We get our hands on the XOOM table – launchpad for Google’s Android Honeycomb operating system
The XOOM itself looks like any other tablet from the front – Apple excepted – with only the word ‘Motorola’ setting it apart. On the rear, you’ll find a simple Motorola logo, stereo speakers (which are loud) and a five-megapixel camera (with dual-LED lamp) above. It’s quite an increase on the 0.7-megapixel sensor on the iPad 2.
At the top is a 3.5mm headphone jack, while at the base are a few different connection sockets. Sadly, you can only use the USB socket for transferring data. For charging, you’ll need to use a separate, higher-power, mini-DC cable that fits in further along.
There’s also a connector to allow you to hook the XOOM up to your HD TV. Motorola doesn’t use the new MHL connector standard, which combines the ability to carry HD video and audio, using a cable that fits a micro-USB socket. Nor does it come with the separate HD cable in the box.
Good and bad apps
The XOOM runs on the Android Honeycomb OS, designed specifically for tablets. It may look substantially different, but it can still run almost every app designed for existing Android smartphones.
However, with a screen measuring just over 10 inches, displaying 1280 x 800 pixels, some apps don’t look quite right. Some also work in only landscape or portrait modes, which causes even more frustration. At the time of review, there were a only handful of apps designed for tablets. Honeycomb needs apps that look as slick as only an Apple-developed app usually can.
Besides more pixels than standard Android smartphones, Honeycomb has smaller text and icons, which makes the XOOM look a lot less like a toy than the iPad. It means that on a single home screen there’s plenty of room to fit loads of app shortcuts and widgets. A single panel can display eight columns and seven rows.
The web browser is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the large screen. With a higher resolution than some computer monitors and netbooks, you really can’t beat the XOOM for web surfing. Adobe Flash support is included as standard on the UK-released models, and the dual-core processor makes everything fly along.
In fact, you won’t see the XOOM slow down for virtually anything, although the screen rotation seems to have an annoying delay that must be intentional rather than a sign of any slow-down.
The model reviewed was the Wi-Fi-only version, which, unlike Apple’s iPad, still gets the GPS receiver fitted inside.
The biggest problem is the size and weight of the XOOM. It’s heavy in the hand, and actually feels a little too big when you’re watching a movie or playing a game. The weight is quite likely down to the very large battery – hence the impressive battery life, ensuring you don’t have to keep it on charge every minute it isn’t being used.
Full article in Mobile News issue 487 (April 26, 2011).
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