|Review: Motorola Xoom|
Tuesday, 13 September 2011 09:41
It's really tough to predict whether the Motorola Xoom tablet will pose any significant competition to the Apple iPad, but in all fairness, the Xoom holds its own in the tablet PC category.
The Xoom was officially unveiled in SA last month, the same month that Research In Motion brought its PlayBook. However, this was a good four months after the iPad 2 landed. Nonetheless, with Apple failing to keep up with iPad 2 demand locally, the Xoom can capitalise, if Motorola plays its cards right.
The Motorola Xoom is the first tablet to run on Google's Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system. In terms of hardware, the device has impressive features, including Nvidia's dual-core processor. It also comes with support for Adobe Flash Player. This gives the Xoom great performance and makes it very responsive, with speedy Web-browsing and a fluid gaming experience.
Web-browsing on the Xoom proved an absolute pleasure. I could quickly and easily flip between Web pages in the same manner I do on a desktop PC. Using thumb controls, one can simply press down on the edge of the screen and a semi-circle menu overlay pops up, letting the user open a new tab, bookmark the page, go back or forward and refresh.
The tablet has a sleek design, and weighs 730g, slightly heavier than the iPad 2, which weighs 590g. The dimensions of the Xoom are 249mm x 167.8mm x 12.9mm, versus the iPad 2's 243mm x 190mm x 13.4mm. The device has 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage capacity.
I was particularly impressed by the location of the Xoom's power button, which is at the top-back corner of the tablet. The moment I picked it up, my forefinger would intuitively locate this button, without me looking for it.
Once on, the display and resolution of the Xoom cannot go unnoticed. The 10.1-inch display is a bit larger and has a higher resolution (1 280 x 800) than the iPad (9.7-inch, 1 024 x 768). The resolution made watching movies on the device quite an experience.
The Xoom comes with a 5MP camera, supported by an LED flash at the back. I also found the camera impressive, as it takes good-quality pictures, even in dark environments. The only worry I had with taking photos with the Xoom was the size of the device. Though it takes nice pictures, I had to be careful when handling it, as any mistake would have seen it slipping out of my hands. I wouldn't advise relying on a tablet as your main camera.
The tablet also has a 2MP front-facing camera, making it much easier to take pictures of yourself. Just like a similar camera on the Motorola Atrix smartphone, the Xoom's front-facing camera does not take impressive pictures in comparison with its opposite. Nonetheless, those interested in their looks can always use this function as a replacement for a mirror.
Regarding battery life, the Xoom's 24.5 Whr battery is rated for up to 10 hours, and approximately 14 days' standby time. The Xoom also enables users to intelligently manage the device's battery life. It offers visuals of battery management, and tells users which applications are consuming the most power.
Energy saving can also be achieved when using this tablet. The battery-saver mode maximises battery performance by allowing the user to customise power usage for various applications. Users can also choose to change the default brightness of this mode.
Buying or downloading third-party applications proved somewhat tricky, as I was redirected to the Android App Store every time I tried to purchase non-Android applications. While I was able to purchase a few games, I found playing games on a tablet touch-screen a nightmare.
Overall, the Motorola Xoom – at R6 599 – is rather pricey for a gadget trying to offset the market entry barrier set by the iPad. The iPad 2 ranges in price from R4 399 to R7 599.
Connectivity: USB 2.0, WiFi 2.4GHz & 5GHz, and Bluetooth
OS: Android 3.0 Honeycomb
Processor: Dual-core 1GHz processor
Dimensions: 249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9mm
Display: 10.1-inch, 1 280 x 800 resolution
Audio: AAC, AAC+, AMR NB, AMR WB, MP3, XMF
Camera: 5MP rear-facing camera with dual LED flash; 2MP front-facing camera
Memory: 32GB on-board user memory, microSD card support for up to 32GB additional memory, 1GB DDR2 RAM
Pros: High resolution, display, 5MP camera
Cons: Does not accept third-party apps, pricey
Price: R6 599
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