Motorola Xoom reviewed

Here it is, after all the marketing, the pricing and whatnot; the Motorola Xoom is one piece of technology that has created such a buzz prior to its release. One of these reasons is that this will be the first device that would run Android 3.0 Honeycomb (i.e. the tablet-specific Android). The great guys at Engadget and SlashGear have gotten themselves the tablet and you can head there for detailed hands-on reviews but for the gist of what one can expect out of this Verizon tablet, scroll below for some insights.

Taking a look at the hardware, the Xoom has this very simplistic matte black design in contrast to what’s found in the iPad. The 10.1-inch, 1280×800 capacitive touchscreen display is responsive. Underneath is an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core 1 GHz processor with 1GB DDR2 RAM for memory — providing the necessary power for the apps. Hardware expansion options include a micro SD card slot which is unsupported at the moment, an LTE SIM slot which is also currently unsupported until Verizon’s 4G upgrade by Q2. Connectivity is provided by WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, also included are USB ports and HDMI for your HiDef needs.

For cameras, you’ll be having a 2-megapixel front-facing one while at the back has 5-megapixels with LED flash. Taking pictures with the rear camera may sound impractical with a device of this size, plus some glare issues would make this task more of a chore. But otherwise, it produces good images and given its 720p video capability, although not perfect, is quite nice — especially when bundled with the Movie Studio editing software. Speaking of the software, What can we expect from a tablet running Honeycomb?

One of the selling points of the Xoom is the fact that is has the first Android Mobile OS specific to tablets — Honeycomb. What can we expect in this iteration of Android? We’ll have a separate feature on that but in the mean time, we’ll tease with some of the apparent changes. On the get go, there’s this feel that, as the guys from Engadget put it, the look seems like been taken from Tron with all the neon blue highlights form the icons to the panels. The user has this overall angular theme that when combined with the other visual elements, work perfectly.

As mentioned earlier, connectivity options for the Xoom include EVDO Rev.A, WiFi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and USB 2.0, with the eventual inclusion of LTE after an upgrade. However, you can’t make voice calls with your tablet – Verizon’s contract only includes data apparently. If you want to really use the Xoom to make such calls, you must have a VoIP client. And with the Google Talk preinstalled, and the multitude of similar apps available in the Android Market, you won’t have any problems making them. Having Honeycomb also means that you can use the tablet as a mobile WiFi hotspot. As for the subsequent charges, Verizon will chage 1 GB per month starting at $20. The 4G connectivity options has more or less no details as of the moment — only that it comes in Q2 2011. Verizon has said that this upgrade will be free of charge although that doesn’t say about the 4G service itself, on top of the current 3G.

Battery life won’t suffer despite the applications and use that the Xoom will eventually put itself into. Under heave usage, the battery lasts 14 hours, which include 8 hours of active usage time. While those figures are the results of various combinations of usage for testing, casual use like browsing and the like will probably result to 9 hours battery life. Charging time on the other hand will take up to 3.5 hours.

What does the Xoom come with? Verizon has included two accessories — a Speaker HD Dock and a Bluetooth Keyboard. Now the former may give you vibes of another Motorola product, the Atrix 4G, but this is a lot simpler than that. The dock only has connections for HDMI and your AC outlet. So in essence, you can charge your tablet while being connected to an HDTV for whatever reason you may want to do that. Add to that is the 5-watt speakers built-in to the dock, which are more powerful than those in the tablet itself to provide a better sounding experience like when you make those VoIP calls.

The Bluetooth Keyboard works wonders as it provided no problems in making the wireless connection — as it should. As an added bonus, you can hook up non-Motorola Bluetooth keyboards if you already have one since the Xoom is supporting the standard Human Interface Device (HID) protocol. And if you’re asking again with regards to the Atrix 4G, yes. The included keyboard is basically the same one.

Upon reading any review for the Xoom, a very tempting question to ask is that is it worth the hefty $799.99 price tag sans contract ($599.99 at a two-year data-only plan)? The best way to answer that is by making a comparison to Apple’s iPad WiFi priced at $729 — that’s $71 cheaper with AT&T giving its owners to deactivate the 3G service at will. For options, you can wait the undated WiFi only version which is tentatively priced at $600 or just wait until the Xoom’s prices drop.

For more detailed reviews head to the following: Engadget / SlashGear. And if you want to grab the Motorola Xoom tablet and accessories, check it out!

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