Last week I received a Motorola Xoom review unit from the friendly people at Verizon. It’s the first device on the market to run Android 3.0 (aka. Honeycomb), a new version of Google’s mobile OS suited for both phones and tablets. Frankly, it’s been a mixed bag so far – a work in progress – as noted in other reviews…
Motorola’s hardware is expensive – $800 for a 10″ tablet with 3G (including an upcoming free 4G upgrade that requires the device to be sent in for service for a few days). Build quality, while not poor, feels inadequate for the price. The screen is dimmer, lower contrast, and more reflective than I expected for a flagship product. The power connector looks fragile and there’s no way to charge the Xoom over USB.
Google’s software is buggy – it shows a lot of promise but there’s a definite lack of polish overall. Few apps take advantage of Honeycomb at the moment, and most legacy Android apps just look & feel awkward on the large display. The web browser is lovely, but there’s no Flash support for the time being (it’s been announced).
Ultimately, the Apple iPad 2 is thinner, lighter, faster, and cheaper than the Xoom. The focus is now squarely on user experience and ecosystem, rather than specs and features. Whereas with phones Android faced an uphill battle vs. iOS two years ago, with tablets it’s facing a mile-high cliff. It’s a different game – the Xoom is no halo device, especially with the iPad 2 also available to Verizon customers.
Stay tuned for some unboxing pictures and camera tests (the Xoom camera is better than the iPad 2’s). In the meantime, check out my unboxing video!