Apple still retains its top position in the growing tablet market despite the barrage of Android tablets for sometime now. They failed to make a dent in iPad sales due to the nature of the OS - it wasn't optimized for using on tablets. Not many apps and widgets could work in Froyo, the Android OS (version 2.2) that most tablets shipped with last year. To top it off, the user experience was barely satisfactory and paled in comparison with Apple's iOS. Google realized it was time to return to the drawing board, and redesigned an Android OS to suit Tablet usage - codenamed Honeycomb.
The Motorola Xoom claims the honor for being the first tablet to ship with the Honeycomb OS (Android 3.0). When it was launched during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2011, the Motorola Xoom received much fanfare as it marked Google Android's first salvo against Apple's popular iPad. Looking at the Motorola Xoom, it is easy to see why it is being touted as the "iPad killer". It is probably the best Android tablet (by specifications) in the market right now.
However, the Motorola Xoom isn't the first Honeycomb tablet to arrive locally and we actually have reviewed an Acer Iconia A500 as our first hands-on with an Android 3.0 equipped device. It is equivalent in size with a 10.1-inch screen, and it even runs on the same NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor. It should make for an interesting comparison in the later part of our article, but for now, we'll set the stage by going through what the Xoom has to offer:-
When you hold the Motorola Xoom in your hands, the first impression you get is its hefty weight. Tipping the scales at 708g, the Motorola Xoom (Wi-Fi version) is significantly heavier than the iPad 2 by 100g. If you hold the Xoom for an extended period of time, you may feel the strain on your hands. It is therefore, easier and more comfortable to hold the Xoom with both hands. The Xoom feels solidly built, with smooth rounded edges giving you an assuring grip of the device
The large 10.1-inch display dominates the front of the tablet. However, it is a bit too glossy for our liking. Not only does the glossy surface make the Xoom a fingerprint magnet, it is so reflective that it interferes with whatever you are doing on the tablet – be it reading or watching movies. There is no physical buttons around the bezel of the screen. Unlike the iPad’s home button at the bottom of the screen, Motorola opts for touch controls at the four corners of the home screen.
While you can use the Xoom in any orientation you like, it is designed to work optimally in landscape mode. A two-megapixel webcam sits at the center above the screen for video chatting and the likes.
At the back, the tablet is has a matt surface, which is less likely to attract fingerprints. You will also find a five-megapixel camera and a dual LED flash. The stereo speakers flank either side of the back, but there's no danger of your hands covering them as they are located towards the top of the device.
If you have difficulty finding the Power button on the Xoom, you are not alone. We were surprised to find the button located just beside the right stereo speaker at the rear. Although the position seems weird, we gradually understood the rationale. It makes ergonomic sense when holding the Xoom in landscape mode as you can easily turn on or off the device with your fingers that would be conveniently located near the vicinity of the power button.
You will find the volume control buttons on the top left corner. The good thing is they're not flushed to the surface, hence making it easy to access.
While the tablet has a microSD slot, its functionality is disabled at the moment. Motorola states that a future update will enable it. In the meantime, you have to settle with its built-in 32GB of flash storage. Beside the microSD bay is a SIM card slot. Our review model of the Motorola Xoom is a Wi-Fi only edition, hence rendering the SIM card slot useless.
Located at the bottom are the microUSB port, HDMI connector and charging port. It is unusual that the microUSB port can only be used for data transfer. We prefer the convenience of charging and data transfer through the same port as seen in other tablets and smartphones.