The Motorola Xoom was the first Android tablet announced to be running the new Android 3.0 honeycomb on its release, the custom tablet operating system from Google, and is by many seen as the first real threat to the Apple iPad in the tablet market.
Although the launch of the Apple iPad 2 has changed the benchmark again, although only slightly, it means that Android tablets like the Motorola Xoom will enter an even tougher market, so how does the Motorola Xoom stack up?
Motorola Xoom design
I geuss when it comes to tablet design there are limiations on how much outside of the norm set by the Apple iPad you can go before people will not recognize it as a tablet anymore. It is clear that Motorola has not set out to revolutionize the tablet design with the Motorola Xoom, and it was not needed either.
The Motorola Xoom has a standard well recognized tablet design with the front being all screen, wrapped in a machined metal back and sides that are curved to provide a comfortable grip. Size wise it measures in at 249.1mm (h) x 176.8mm (w) x 12.9mm (d), making it slightly thicker than some of its competitors, and the weight comes in at 730g, also a bit heavier than some of the other direct competitors.
The front facing 2-megapixel camera is situated in the upper middle when viewing in landscape mode, which seems to be the preferred orientation for use, while at the back you will find both the power button as well as the 5-megapixel autofocus camera, and stereo speakers. The hardware volume control sits on the left hand edge, and at the bottom you will find the micro-USB port and a mini HDMI output, as well as the contact point for the Xoom dock. At the top you will also find the 3.5mm audiojack as well as the SIM card slot.
Motorola Xoom screen and resolution
Besides what you can actually run on the tablet, the screen is a main feature that people will look at, and the 10.1-inch screen on the Motorola Xoom leaves us with a good first impression.
With its slightly wider format 1280 x 800 WXGA 160dpi resolution the capacitive touchscreen is responsive and supports good viewing angles. The screen screams out for good quality HD video watching, supporting 1080p video viewing.
In a brightness and contrast test done by Cnet the Motorola Xoom scored 312 for maximum brightness (in cd/m2) and 131 in default brightness, with a contrast ratio of 1200:1.
What is inside the Motorola Xoom
When it was first announced the hardware spesifications of the Motorola Xoom looked impressive, and by todays standard, they still are.
The Motorola Xoom is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor, which is popular with the latest Android tablets. It also has a strong 1gb of RAM, and features 32gb of internal memory that can be expanded through micro SD card slot, although Android 3.0 Honeycomb does not support memory cards just yet.
The 2-megapixel front facing camera and the 5-megapixel rear camera makes the photo capabilities of the Motorola Xoom superior to amongst other the iPad 2, and in line with other top of the range Android Tablets that are coming on the market. We have not yet had a chance to compare picture quality etc between devices but will update with relevant information as it becomes available.
Network wise the Motorola Xoom is set up with 802.11b/g/n wi-fi connectivity, 3G mobile connection with free upgrade to 4G when available (TBC) for the non-wifi only models, and bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.
You will as expected find accellerometer and gyroscope, but in addition Motorola have also added GPS and barometer to the Xoom, the last a feature that is not yet supported by Android, but available for third party developers to take advantage of through the Android 3.0 API. Did we hear a stormchaser app coming??
Battery life on Motorola Xoom
Having not had a chance to play with one for long enough to proper test the battery life we can only go by reports from amongst other Engadgets, which indicates a battery life around 8-10 hours with web browsing and watching video. This compares similar to other tablet devices, including the iPad and other comparable Android devices.
Operating system and software
As much as the hardware is important for tablets, it is just as much, if not more, about the operating system and the applications available to run on them.
The Motorola Xoom is one of the first devices to run the new Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system from Google, which is optimized for tablet devices such as the Xoom. Android 3.0 represents a big improvement in user interface from earlier versions of the operating system that matches much better with the screen size and usage of tablet based hardware, thanks to the genius of Matias Duarte at Google.
In terms of applications, Apple and iOS have a significant head start, but Google seems to be doing all it can to catch up, with more applications optimized for tablet devices becoming available, as well as improving how the operating system deals with fragmentation.
Summary review Motorola Xoom
Based on initial impressions and technical specifications the Motorola Xoom feels like a solid tablet solution that could become popular in the UK market, depending on pricing of course, as the arrival of the iPad 2 have closed some of the initial technical advantage that the Motorola Xoom and other Android based tablets had.
At the moment we can see the Motorola Xoom becoming popular with non-Apple customers, but it is not likely to convert many iPad owners over to Android, unless something is done with the pricing.
* This is a preview of the Motorola Xoom based on its features and first impression, and not a complete review. We will update with comments and ratings once we have had a chance to do a full review.