Motorola Xoom Android tablet
Motorola Xoom review: An Android 'Honeycomb' tablet that promises a slick multimedia experience
- Stylish, industrial design
- Large, vibrant touchscreen
- Flexibility of Android Honeycomb OS
- Poorly positioned buttons
- Doesn’t charge via microUSB
- Android Honeycomb still a work in progress
Motorola's long-awaited Xoom tablet has a sturdy design and plenty of features, but like all of the latest Android tablets, it is still very much a work in progress.
Price$ 840.00 (AUD)
The Android Honeycomb user interface of the Motorola Xoom, particularly the home screen, looks striking and is easy to use, and the handling of notifications is excellent. The recent apps list also makes flicking back and forth between recently used programs a breeze. We love the flexibility of live widgets, and they are particularly useful on a tablet device with much more screen real estate than a smartphone. We noticed that flicking between home screens populated with more than three or four widgets does tend to make scrolling jerky; though this is a software issue with Honeycomb, and not a problem entirely attributed to the Xoom itself.
Despite all the positives of Android Honeycomb, it is clear the software is still in its infancy, so the overall out-of-the-box experience isn't as slick as it could be. The Xoom's Web browser still automatically switches to mobile versions of many websites (including Facebook) and Flash video performance — a key advantage the device is claimed to hold over the iPad — is hit and miss. Sometimes, the browser crashed when trying to load Flash-heavy sites, while other times it would load them almost perfectly. Trying to browse Twitter through the browser, for example, was also clunky at best. We also noticed a few other niggling bugs: the keyboard often lags when typing in the Web browser, and we experienced occasional crashes, particularly when in the Android Market app.
A more telling issue is the lack of third-party apps in the Android Market that have been designed with a tablet in mind. Many common apps, including official Twitter and Facebook apps, have not yet been optimised for the larger screen size that the Xoom offers. Default Google apps like Maps, Gmail and YouTube worked excellently, and there are a handful of downloadable apps like Angry Birds and Pulse News Reader that filled the screen perfectly and worked without issue. But many apps in the Android Market simply resize to fit the Xoom's screen. This issue will change over time as the platform evolves and develops.
The Motorola Xoom runs Android 3.0 "Honeycomb", which offers a completely redesigned interface aiming to take advantage of the larger screen of a tablet.
Motorola Xoom: Performance and hardware
The Motorola Xoom's 10.1in, 16:9 widescreen display makes it an ideal entertainment device, particularly for video playback. The Xoom supports HD video playback and 720p HD video recording, and also has an HDMI-out port meaning it can be plugged directly into a high-definition television. Strangely, the Xoom doesn't come pre-loaded with a default video player, though there are plenty of free options available in the Android Market (we recommend RockPlayer). In our tests, the Xoom played nearly all the files we threw at it without issue, though it occasionally stumbled when trying to play a couple of odd-resolution AVI files.
The Motorola Xoom comes with 32GB of internal memory and a microSD card slot, but the microSD card slot is inactive; Motorola says this will be enabled in a "pending" software update, but has not specified an exact time frame.
The Motorola Xoom is powered by a 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor — the same used in the Galaxy Tab 10.1v — and 1GB RAM. The tablet felt slick and fast throughout testing, even when running multiple applications.
The Motorola Xoom has a rear 5-megapixel camera, and a 2-megapixel front camera for video calls. Although both take significantly better quality photos and than the iPad 2, the quality of both still images and video can't match the excellent cameras the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v captures.
Motorola claims the Xoom's battery is good for up to 10 hours; we experienced almost nine hours in our real-life tests. This makes the Xoom the clear leader in Android tablets when it comes to battery life, though the iPad 2 is still king in this regard. In our tests, the Xoom often lasted over two days with moderate use, a very fair result for a device you will likely use regularly on a day-to-day basis.
The Motorola Xoom is available through Telstra, but is also sold outright and unlocked through Australian online store MobiCity.
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