Xoom Quick Feature Highlights
I look back at the excitation I had when I got my hands on a Samsung Galaxy Tab. Being a core Android fan, I was looking forward to see if I could really enjoy content on an Android device as much as I did on the iPad. Sadly, I was frustrated. My expectations for the Xoom quite high. After the hype and hoopla of the weeks following CES, I was thinking that Android would ultimately have a tablet that would be able to contend on many stages with Apple’s go-to measure. In some cases, that’s exactly what has took place. In others, the Xoom is still falling short, though not entirely of its own fault.
To start, it should be said that Honeycomb is an absolutely brilliant transition of Android into a flavor that is suited for the tablet game. After taking on a few moments to figure out where things are, I realised that the Honeycomb does a fantastically good job of being usable and favorable. To compare it to iOS is not fair, but iOS users won’t like Honeycomb, as they won’t like Android in large. Android users, however, are in for a deal.
Battery life on the Xoom is incredible. I had Pandora operating, tethered to a Bluetooth audio device called the tuneLink, for 8 straight hours. I had pulled up a few web pages and had Google Maps streaming my location in real-time. Over the 8 hours, I had run through about 60-percent of the battery life. All said, I’m very impressed with what Motorola has done with the Xoom’s battery.
The Xoom as a piece of hardware is quite good. It’s screaming fast, renders pages very well and runs any application that you throw at it with ease. It’s a bit heavier than is comfortable for extended handheld use, but that’s been true of the iPad as well. The screen is crisp, clear and shows with a refresh rate that makes every move seamless.
The 3G speed of the Xoom is no less than astounding, on Verizon’s CDMA network. I found that I was quite often hitting 1.5 mbit/second in download, and no fewer than 5 of my tests hit the full 2 mbit mark. Compared to tests with the same app on various Android phones on the same network, speeds were no less than 30 percentage higher on the Xoom.
Some of the dedicated Android tablet applications are wonderful. Google Books is fun. The Financial Times has put together a lovely application. USA Today has an application that looks great.
One of the problems that I had about the Galaxy Tab was that even web pages didn’t render fast enough to make it a compelling experience. Apple’s mobile Safari was just a better browser, on a better tablet. With the Xoom, the browser works great, but the rest of the apps are still missing. What makes a tablet experience compelling in my view is its ability to be an application centered platform, specially suited to consumption. That apps-focused idea just doesn’t work on Android yet, as there still aren’t enough Android applications that are specifically focused for the tablet. The numbers are growing, and some of the applications are spectacular, but they are few and far between for now.
As it stands, I simply can’t recommend the Xoom for anyone who isn’t the most hardcore of Android fans. Sadly, that’s neither the fault of Motorola nor of the OS itself. Honeycomb actually is a great tablet OS, albeit systematically different from iOS in just about every manner. It is a considerably more useable experience for many pieces of my daily work than the iPad is, due to the notifications and its use of widgets. But once those elements are passed, the rest of the apps-centric world is still lacking.
I won’t really argue the cost point of the Xoom. Apple’s volume purchase of component parts has made it possible for the company to make an exceedingly high quality product at an inexpensive price. If you really want a Xoom, you’re just going to have to pay a bit more. Is it worth the additional price? That’s, again, a question that I can’t respond for you.
Six months ago, the Xoom would have been a game-changing tablet. If it were a truly integrated CDMA choice (with LTE to come), it would have filled a niche that the iPad wasn’t. Today, that’s not the case. Since Apple makes an iPad with an integrated CDMA radio, the Xoom has some serious competition and lacks a leg up that it would have previously had.
The WiFi version of the Xoom is priced at a premium to its iPad counterpart. Over Again, that’s not necessarily only the fault of Motorola, but the fact remains. Essentially the idea comes down to whether you want an Android or iOS-based tablet. If you want Android, then the Xoom is a great choice. The problem that I see is that right now there simply isn’t enough of a reason to want the Android tablets, irrespective of the price.