Motorola Xoom vs Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: Tablet showdown

Which is the better Android tablet: Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, or the Motorola Xoom?

Software and performance

Both the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 run the same Google Android Honeycomb 3.1 operating system. Key features include an 'action bar', a contextual option group displayed at the top of the screen, five customisable home screens with an emphasis on widgets, and a recent apps list. Both tablets also support tabbed Web browsing and 3D graphics.

The Motorola Xoom runs a 'vanilla' version of the Honeycomb OS, so there is no UI overlay or enhancements slapped over the top of the standard Android interface. On the other hand, Samsung differentiates the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with its own TouchWiz UX user interface. This software is implemented on top of the Android 'Honeycomb' platform, making the Galaxy Tab 10.1 among the first Android tablets to run a customised version of Google's operating system for tablets.

Samsung's TouchWiz UX overlay brings a number of new features to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 including a "quick panel" that adds a handy set of toggles in the notifications window, a suite of basic "Mini Apps" that apps appear as an overlay on top of the screen, and Samsung's own set of widgets: AccuWeather, a Bookmark widget, a Buddies now widget, a digital clock that allows you to set an alarm with one touch, and Samsung's Social Hub, which aggregates e-mail, instant messaging, contacts, calendar and social network connections. These Samsung widgets are resizable, so you can fit them on the screen as you wish.

Internals and cameras

Both the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 have similar specifications. The Xoom is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor, has 1GB of RAM, 32GB of internal memory, and a microSD card slot for extra storage. The main difference between the two tablets is the processor: Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with an ARM Cortex A9 dual-core processor, whereas the Motorola Xoom uses an NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core chip. Samsung has chosen not to provide a memory card slot on the Galaxy Tab 10.1, so like the iPad 2, you'll have to make do with the internal memory.

The Motorola Xoom has a 5-megapixel rear camera for photographs and video, and a 2-megapixel front camera for video calls. The Xoom can also record 720p HD video. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet has a 3-megapixel rear camera that also doubles as a 720p HD video recorder, and a 2-megapixel front camera for video calls.

Motorola Xoom The Motorola Xoom runs a 'vanilla' version of the Honeycomb OS, so there is no UI overlay or enhancements slapped over the top of the standard Android interface.

Other features

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn't have a full sized USB port, or even a micro-USB port: both charging and connecting the unit to a computer via USB is achieved through the included, proprietary cable, much the same as the iPad 2. The main disadvantage is that you'll need this included Samsung USB cable to charge and synchronise the tablet and can't use any old micro-USB cable. However, on the plus side, the proprietary connector charges the Galaxy Tab 10.1 much faster than a standard micro-USB port could.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 does not have a HDMI-out connection, so it can't be connected to a high definition television or projector. Samsung however sells an optional HDTV adapter that includes a HDMI-out connection, while its multimedia dock accessory for the tablet also includes HDMI-out. The Motorola Xoom comes with a micro-USB port, but like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, it lacks a full-sized USB port. However, its HDMI-out port gives it a slight edge over the Galaxy Tab.

Both the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets are available in Wi-Fi only, and Wi-Fi + 3G variants.

Battery life and availability

Samsung promises 9 hours of video playback time before the Galaxy Tab 10.1's battery runs out. The Motorola Xoom offers a slightly better figure of 10 hours, though this is manufacturer figures and isn't likely to be experienced in real-world use. We experienced almost nine hours in our real-life tests.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was initially expected to launch sometime in August, but the lawsuit by Apple has meant Samsung has been forced to postpone the unveiling. "A Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 for the Australian market will be released in the near future," the company said in a recent statement. Pricing and carrier details have yet to be announced.

The Motorola Xoom was jointly unveiled by Motorola and Telstra in April, but is also sold through Optus in Australia.

What do you think about the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1? Let us know in the comments below!

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Tags Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1tabletsGoogle Android Honeycomb 3.1Android tabletsmotorola xoom

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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