The public is always hungry for new gadgets, especially those which can supposedly address multiple needs — the tablet computer is one of those kinds of gadgets. The creation of a lightweight device which marries the large-screen viewing of text and images with the ability to browse the internet and do all kinds of other things is a new concept. The Motorola Xoom, a forerunner in the tablet market that is built to go head to head with its competitors, brings that concept to life. Although it has not made its official debut to the buying public to date, the reactions of those who were allowed to view it at CES provide the basis of this Motorola Xoom review.
Motorola Xoom actually mirrors its closest competitor in regards to size: measuring 9.8 by 6.6 in. and weighing 1.6 pounds, it has a slightly larger screen with slightly more weight than an iPad, with a black and silver color palette. The 10.1 inch glass screen has no buttons at all; it’s a completely touch interface, with the volume, power/sleep, and visual controls on the edge of the case. It has dual cameras (2 mp front-facing webcam and a 5 mp rear-facing), a built-in mic, Bluetooth and wired headset, micro-USB, and HDMI access. At the moment, Flash player and SDcard are promised, but they have not yet been implemented into the tablet.
With a dual-core processor (each running 1 GHz), the Xoom is powerful, easily running heavy programs with excellent performance. The OS is Google’s updated Android 3.0 Honeycomb and screen resolution is 1,280×800, with a touch screen keyboard. It has proximity and ambient light sensors, as well as a barometer and a gyroscope, which orients the Xoom to portrait or landscape mode. Currently only a 32GB version with Wi-Fi and 3G network connectivity is available; you can get the Xoom through Verizon for $200 less for the 3G service, but the Wi-Fi only model is not yet available in the U.S.
The processor speed alone beats the competitor: it is a dual-core that will be very hard to beat. It has more accessibility options as well, and they are offered at lower prices than the iPad’s accessories. The biggest advantage is the operating system, which requires some time to learn if users aren’t Android-savvy, but ends up being more navigable and multitasking friendly than many others. The Xoom also comes with a free future upgrade: the developers know things change, and make provisions for that at no cost to the buyer. When the Flash and SDcard upgrade is ready, all the buyer has to do is take it in for service.
The larger screen feels a bit clumsy except in landscape mode, and it isn’t easy to view in bright backlighting. The Xoom is only available at 32GB right now, and the hazy promise of future upgrades to 4G network is outweighed by the fact that, in order to have 3G network coverage, you have to sign a 2 year contract with Verizon. The future-forward “free upgrade” promise actually means that the device will be in the shop, possibly for an extended period of time. Plus, the case has the buttons in awkward places, and they tend to stick at inconvenient times, like when the volume or brightness need adjusting.
Although it hasn’t been field-tested by the multitudes, it is hoped that this Motorola Xoom review is helpful in deciding whether to purchase this device. Future input by consistent users will be essential, and more information will be available as time goes by. Users are already clamoring for the device, however, and are likely making preparations to purchase it as soon as it becomes available. At that point, this review will no doubt be able to become more substantial, because tablet users will likely sound off as soon as possible.