Tablet PCs running Google’s Android operating system are easy to find. Running just behind the Apple iPad for market share, these tablets bring the dual advantages of lower prices and open source application development to bear. The easy availability of Flash on these devices is another blow to Apple’s domination. More frequently, companies who have a long history of mobile phone production are entering the tablet PC market.
Among these devices is the Motorola Xoom. This is a 10.1 inch tablet, running Google’s Android 3.0 operating system on a 1Ghz Tegra Dual-Core Processor. Backed up with 1GB of RAM, the performance of this tablet is solid and fast. The hardware suite continues with a 5MP rear facing camera capable of shooting HD video, and a 2MP forward facing camera for use in video chat. Video resolution is 1280×800 pixels, and HD video out is supported through a mini HDMI slot (cables available at extra cost). On-device playback of 1080p HD is vivid and crisp. Accessories include a speaker dock, which simplifies the HD video out connection, and integrates upgraded speakers for listening to music from your device. The estimated battery life of about 10 hours puts this tablet in the normal range of the competition.
Internal memory is 32GB. While the device hardware includes a microSD card slot with support up to 32GB, the slot is currently nonfunctional. A planned software upgrade for the Xoom will activate this slot. However, including a nonfunctional slot on the device has been viewed negatively by some users. It seems rather frustrating to have the slot at all.
Connectivity is handled by the mini HDMI slot, and a micro USB port. Charging is handled by a separate plug with a proprietary design, and not via the micro USB. The benefit here is that users can attach accessories via the USB port while the device is charging.
Many users report that the Xoom experience is phenomenal. The web browsing experience provides fast load times and easy transition between applications and browser windows. The hardware provided on the device allows fast performance, as long as the wireless connection is sufficient. However, the tablet suffers as compared to the iPad. The general consensus is that iOS provides a more “finished” user experience than Android 3.0. Transitions are smoother and there are fewer reboots required with the iPad. Cameras and video resolution are favorable, with many users giving the Xoom the edge here. Speaker quality preference goes to the iPad, but with any tablet the use of a good quality headset is recommended.