Motorola's Xoom 2 Android tablet is thinner, lighter and faster than the original Xoom. But does it offer enough upgrades over its predecessor to justify its expensive price tag?
The Motorola Xoom 2 is the successor to the original Xoom and attempts to address many of the concerns of the company's first Android tablet. The original model was widely panned for being too heavy and bulky, so Motorola has made the Xoom 2 both thinner (8.8mm) and lighter (599g) than the original. The Xoom 2 gets angled corners that give it a distinctive, industrial look and the tapered edges make it comfortable to hold. It also comes coated in a splash-guard coating that makes it water-repellent — this is the same coating that was used on the Motorola RAZR Android phone.
The Motorola Xoom 2 has the same sized 10.1in screen with the same 1280x800 resolution as its predecessor. However, Motorola has opted to use an IPS panel rather than the regular TFT panel that adorned the original Xoom. This should mean the Xoom 2's display is both brighter and clearer than its predecessor.
Aside from these minor upgrades, the internals of the Motorola Xoom 2 differ little to the original. The dual-core 1.2GHz processor offers a mere 200MHz speed increase over the first Xoom, while the only other significant change is the scrapping of the AC adapter port for charging: the Xoom 2 instead uses the regular micro-USB port for both charging and syncronising. Like the original Xoom, the Xoom 2 also has 32GB of internal memory, a microSD card slot, a 5-megapixel camera and a HDMI-out port that allows users to connect the device to a high-definition television or projector.
Perhaps the most interesting addition is an infrared port that works with the included Dijit app which allows the Xoom 2 to act as a universal remote control. Sony's Tablet S is the only other tablet on the market that includes similar functionality.
Disappointingly, the Motorola Xoom 2 will initially ship with Google's now outdated Android 3.2 "Honeycomb" operating system. The tablet will eventually be upgraded to the latest 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" version of Android, but Motorola has not specified when it will be available. Considering that the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime already has Ice Cream Sandwich, and Acer has promised to update the Iconia A200 to ICS by the end of this month, the delay for the Xoom is unacceptable, in our opinion. We can't help but feel the same way we did when the original Motorola Xoom launched in Australia with a disabled microSD card slot and no support for Flash video — although both features were eventually activated via software updates, this happened months after the product went on sale.
The Motorola Xoom 2 can be purchased outright from selected Telstra and JB Hi-Fi stores for $720, but it's not compatible with Telstra's new 4G network. Telstra will sell the Xoom 2 on a range of its 24 month data + tablet plans: the $29, $39, $49 and $89 data + tablet plans include 1GB, 4GB, 8GB and 15GB of data per month, respectively. A $10 monthly device repayment is applicable on the $89 plan ($99/month in total), while a $20 monthly device repayment applies to the other three plans — $49, $59 and $69 per month in total.