Apple's iPad 2 may be the dominant player in the tablet market, but the coming months will see the release of a plethora of Android tablets equipped with Google's latest 'Honeycomb' operating system. Three of the first are the Motorola Xoom, which will launch exclusively through Telstra in May, the Vodafone-exclusive Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v, which hits the shelves on May 4, and the Acer Iconia A500, which is currently available through major retailers.
All three of these Android tablets run Google's latest Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' operating system, which has been specifically designed for larger screened tablet devices. With each of these devices running virtually identical software, how do the Motorola Xoom, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v and the Acer Iconia A500 compare when it comes to specifications?
Motorola Xoom vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v vs. Acer Iconia A500: Specifications
|Feature||Motorola Xoom||Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v||Acer Iconia A500|
|Display technology||Capacitive TFT||Capacitive TFT||Capacitive TFT|
|Display resolution||1280x800 pixels||1280x800 pixels||1280x800 pixels|
|Front camera||2 megapixels||2 megapixels||2 megapixels|
|Rear camera||5 megapixels, dual-LED flash, autofocus, geotagging||8 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging||5 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging|
|Video recording||Yes, 720p HD||Yes, 1080p HD||Yes, 720p HD||GPS||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Internal memory||32GB||16GB||16GB or 32GB|
|Dimensions||249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9mm||246.2 x 170.4 x 10.9mm||260 x 177 x 13.3mm|
|Processor||NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core (1GHz)||Samsung dual-core (1GHz)||NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core (1GHz)|
|3G networks||HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100||HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100||Wi-Fi only|
|Bluetooth||2.1 with A2DP||2.1 with A2DP||2.1 with A2DP|
|Quoted battery life||Up to 10 hours||Up to 10 hours||Up to 10 hours|
|Adobe Flash support||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Software and performance
The Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v and Acer Iconia all run the same software, so the end user experience is almost identical. Key features of Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' include an 'action bar', a contextual option group displayed at the top of the screen, five customisable home screens with a big emphasis on widgets, a recent apps list for easier multitasking, a redesigned on-screen keyboard, a new browser and improved copy and paste. If all that isn't enough of a tongue twister, Android 3.0 Honeycomb also offers support for tabbed Web browsing, and 3D graphics. Overall, the Android software for tablets is a huge improvement over earlier versions; tablets running earlier versions felt more like overblown smartphones.
The software on all three of these tablets is a 'vanilla' version of the Honeycomb OS, so there is no UI overlay or enhancements slapped over the top of the standard Android interface. However, Acer includes a few small hubs to store and sort downloaded apps on the Iconia A500. These include social, eReading, Game Zone and Multimedia — they are merely a fancy bookshelf background where you can group application shortcuts, and don't add much to the overall user experience.
Acer includes a few small hubs to store and sort downloaded apps on the Iconia A500. These include social, eReading, Game Zone and Multimedia.
All three tablets offer a slick Web browser that is fast and displays Flash content, most of the time with minimal delay. They also support tabbed Web browsing, and the entire browsing experience is as close as you'll find to a full desktop or notebook computer. The on-screen keyboard on all three devices is spacious and comfortable to type on once you get used to its layout.
The handling of notifications is excellent, and the recent apps list also makes flicking back and forth between recently used programs a breeze. We love the flexibility of live widgets; they are particularly useful on a tablet that has much more screen real estate than a smartphone.