If you thought tablet wars got underway with the arrival of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab last year, think again. The Galaxy Tab – and possibly the iPad – ain’t got nothing on Motorola’s first foray into the tablet market, which features a NVIDIA TEGRA 2 dual-core processor, Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), 1GB of RAM and a 10.1-inch 16:9 aspect ratio (1280 x 800 pixel) 1080p display.
One of key things that Motorola was keen to impress on us at this morning’s briefings was that the Xoom is one of the first tablets ever to be fully designed with Android 3.0 in mind. In fact, next to Google, Motorola is the second biggest contributor towards the Android’s source code – at least, that’s what we were told this morning.
We weren’t allowed to see much of Android 3.0 in action as it is not yet finalised, which was a shame. Nevertheless, we were shown some previews of some of the device’s core apps and capabilities. What we did see of Android 3.0 looked very impressive though. It has five homescreens, looks very different and will definitely be worth the wait once it arrives.
As to the general speed and feel of the device, we cannot really comment, as we weren’t allowed to explore the device in any great detail, which was disappointing.
That said, we liked the look of the device. It’s very stylish and sleek, although it is quite heavy in the hand but this is to be expected, it is a 10.1-incher after all, so this shouldn’t really put anybody off – it certainly didn’t with the iPad. As we said earlier, there are two cameras: 2-megapixel on the front and a 5-megapixel camera with LED Flash on the back. We didn’t get to see either of these in action during the preview so, unfortunately, we can’t really comment on them.
We were shown video playback on the device and this was impressive. The 1080p quality practically jumps of the screen and the 16:9 aspect ratio means that there is absolutely no pillar boxing, which is always a good thing.
In terms of apps, you’ve got the entire Android Market to play with, which is great. What’s not is that a lot of them, as we found on the Dell Streak and Samsung Galaxy Tab, won’t be tailored for use on a tablet device. How Google will tackle this with Android 3.0 in the future remains to be seen but this is one instance where Apple certainly has the upper hand.
App gripes aside, the Xoom has masses of storage and will launch with 32GB of internal storage, which is certainly adequate. There is also a microSD card slot on board too, but this won’t be activated (presumably by a software update) until after the device has been officially launched, which is slightly bizarre – but at least it’s there, hey!
Connectivity-wise you’ve got a HDMI output, MicroUSB, charging port and a 3.5mm Jack input, which just about covers all the bases. So what about the apps we did see? Well, they looked pretty good. We saw a new fangled version of Gmail, which was eerily reminiscent of Mail for the iPad, Google Maps 5 and Google Books, which has a 3D UI and 3 million titles – very impressive – and Google Talk, which takes advantage of the 2-megapixel front-facing camera.
While it’s difficult to comment on the actual device without physically using it we reckon that the Xoom will be a big deal when it launches. Not only does it have the first ever tablet-dedicated Android operating system Honeycomb on board but it’s also got masses of extremely powerful hardware to back it up.
(Review Page 1 of 1)