Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TECH REVIEW: Verizon Wireless Motorola Xoom - The Tablet War is On!

Give this Hot Superstar some apps please...

For the last two weeks, I have been reviewing the hottest new tablet on the market - the Verizon Wireless Motorola Xoom.  Usually, it takes me a while to incorporate new technology into my life, but this tablet was up and working in my home within hours of it arriving.

Wifi Hotspot to the Rescue
I have had a love/hate relationship with my cable provider for a year now and the day that the Xoom arrived in the mail, my internet connection totally went out and stayed out for 12 hours. Normally, I would have hit the roof, but since I had the Motorola Xoom from Verizon Wireless, I was totally cool. I simply turned on the Wifi Hotspot feature of the Xoom and I was back on the internet in seconds. And I have to say that the Verizon signal was very strong and at times, I actually forgot that I was not using my regular cable connection.

Easy to Figure out Interface, but the on/off is a little different
Usually, It takes me a while to figure out how to use the interface on a Motorola product.  But for the Xoom, it was really easy to navigate through the screens and get to the applications that I wanted.  The only issue that I had was, well, very embarrassing.  I could not figure out how to turn the tablet on.  The on/off button is not on the unit edge as it is for other tablets.  There is a round on/off button on the back of the tablet near the top that is really hard to find.  But once you figure it out, it is really easy to just hold the tablet and use your index finger to press the button to turn it on.

Around the same size as the iPad
When I reviewed the Verizon Wireless Samsung Galaxy Tablet,  I remarked that I really liked the smaller size because it was easy to carry in my purse.  The Motorola Xoom is much bigger and heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Tablet.  The 10.1" HD screen on the Xoom is actually a little bigger than an iPad's.  And the screen resolution is stunning.  I loaded the "Angry Birds" app on the tablet for my son to play and the colors were wonderful.  The Xoom has both front and rear cameras that both have great resolutions. Also the Xoom runs the new Android 3.0 operating system known as Honeycomb which gives the tablet more features like faster speed, a richer browser that includes tabs, form auto-fill and syncing with Google Chrome bookmarks.

flicker photo by hayden_post
Xoom vs. iPad2
When I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Tablet, I stated that it was unfair to compare it to the iPad because its smaller size really put it in a category to itself.  But since the Xoom and the iPad are so close in size and features, comparisons are necessary.

The Xoom would stand out more if the iPad2 had not been released. Since the iPad2 has dual cameras (although at a far lower resolution) and a slightly decreased weight, the major differences between the tablets have shrunk. Android tablets have expandable memory while iPads do not. It is really nice to be able to take my sd card from my smartphone and put it into a tablet so that I have my music, photos, and other important files in one place.  Also as mentioned above, the Xoom can be used as a mobile wifi hotspot while the iPad/iPad2 cannot.

The iPad2 still does not support Abode Flash while the Motorola Xoom and other Android tablets can support this feature.  If Abode Flash is important to you, then the Motorola Xoom is probably the tablet for you. But if Abode Flash and the other features mentioned above are not important to you, then it really has to come down to price.
Apple has priced the newest generation of iPad's at the same level as the older models, which is much cheaper than any of the Android based tablets. The funny thing is that if there were no Android based tablets on the market, I doubt that Apple would have priced their new generation of iPads so low.

Plenty of Flash for the Future
I have no doubt that the Motorla Xoom will find an audience among tablet users. The real challenge with the Motorola Xoom is that there is currently limited apps available in the Android Marketplace that take advance of the large screen size of a tablet. Other than "Angry Birds" there was really no other Android Tablet apps that I was interested in trying in the Android Marketplace.  Certain apps like "The Detroit News" displayed on the Xoom in the same size as a handheld smartphone. 

As time goes on in this war of tablets, certainly Android developers will come up with tons more apps sized just for Android tablets.  My guess is that developers will come up with apps for Android tablets like the Motorola Xoom that use lots of Abode Flash - the one feature that iPads cannot (and according to Apple will never) support.  And those apps will help to make a bright new market for superstar tablets like the Motorola Xoom.

The Verizon Wireless Motorola Xoom retails for $599 on the Verizon website with a new 2 year activation.



Disclosure: I was loaned the Motorola Xoom for the purpose of writing this review and stating my unbias opinion. I was not compensated for this review.

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