The newest tablet to hit the market is the Motorola XOOM and I have to agree with other reviewers, it’s pretty impressive. But is it an iPad killer? Not right now and not in its current state. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great device.

The XOOM is definitely fast, possibly one of the fastest devices I’ve reviewed. It is the first tablet to be powered with Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS. Honeycomb has an edginess, offering the industrial feel that Android fans have come to expect. With Honeycomb not being quite as polished as say iOS, it does potentially pose a problem for the not-so tech savvy user. Perhaps it is because I’m used to my iPhone that it took me a moment to navigate the device and figure out the intricacies of the OS. Once I realized how much customization there was, it turned into a positive for me.

OverDrive Media Console for Android runs quickly as well. I barely had to touch the screen to turn a page or to open the setting controls. The app also reacted well when I switched from listening to an MP3 audiobook to reading an EPUB eBook. (The latest version of OverDrive’s app for Android even includes support for Honeycomb.)

On Verizon’s 3G network and even over Wi-Fi, the browser is lickity-split. I tested the speed against my brand new HP laptop at home over Wi-Fi and was very happy with the result. Pages loaded on the XOOM less than a second behind the laptop. I can’t wait to see how fast it’ll be once it’s available on the LTE network – which you will be able to upgrade to in the coming months.

You may be wondering why I stated above that I don’t believe the XOOM is an iPad killer. There are several reasons actually.  My main issue starts with the price point.

It’s pricy, and will put you back $799 without a two year contract from Verizon or if you pick one up at Best Buy. My new laptop was in that price range. If you decide on a contract for 3G connectivity, it’s $599 for the device and an additional $20 a month for the cheapest data plan.  If you do the math, that’ll be another $480 (before taxes) over the course of the two year contract.

The next two strikes against the XOOM are with the screen. Early March in Cleveland, Ohio, can prove to be difficult to find a sunny day. Luckily we had a couple sunny days this week and I was able to stand outside in direct sunlight with the XOOM and really test the screen glare. To be blunt, it was bad. I don’t think you’ll be reading the upcoming installment of the Sookie Stackhouse series on your XOOM sitting on the beach in Cabo. One way to minimize the glare is to increase the brightness level in the OverDrive app. For me, that made it too bright.

The XOOM was obviously designed to be used in landscape mode considering the Motorola and Verizon logos are length wise with the front facing camera in between. I’m not sure about you but I don’t feel that landscape mode is the best for reading an eBook. It is possible to spin the device and read in portrait, but it feels awkward held in that position. That may be because it’s also heavy, 1.5 pounds to be exact. I had to prop it up against my legs while curled up on the couch or set it on a table when reading for long periods of time.

Bottom line is the Motorola XOOM is the first of many Android tablets to be released with Honeycomb. If you need one right now, by all means it is pretty awesome on several levels. For me, I’m going to wait and see where the market goes and for prices to come down. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this is not the device to purchase if you only want something to read eBooks. Since the Motorola XOOM is the first major tablet to come anywhere near the iPad I thought I’d leave you with the tech specs.

Hardware:
NVIDIA® Tegra™ Dual Core Processor 1 GHz
1 GB LP DDR2
32 GB of internal storage

Software:
Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)

Physical Specs:
10.1” 1280×800 display
0.51 inches thick
1.5 LBS

Connectivity:
3G (CDMA EV-DO Rev A)
4G LTE upgradeable
Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz

Visit Motorola’s site for all specifications and additional information.

Megan Greer is a retail project manager for OverDrive.

4 Responses to “Review: Motorola XOOM has plenty of zoom”

  1. Bill M.

    Just want to counter two of your points re: Xoom not being an iPad killer.

    1) Screen glare – The iPad also has significant screen glare. A decent matte screen protector will reduce glare on both devices.

    2) Price – The Xoom starts at $799 without a cellular plan, compared to $729 for a comparable iPad with 3G connections. That may all change when the iPad 2 is released, but $70 is generally not a deal-killer for most early adopters. In addition, a wifi-only version of the Xoom has already been announced (rather, leaked from Sam’s Club & Office Depot) for an early April release. It will be priced at around $530. A 32GB wifi-only iPad is $599.

    That said, I’m not going to claim that the Xoom is an iPad killer, nor do I want to start a flame war between Apple & Droid fanboys. Both devices have their pros and cons. Heck, I wish I had the $ to purchase both!

  2. George M

    I just downloaded Overdrive onto my xoom (Android 3.1) and it has a blank screen with no menus. There doesn’t seem to be any help anywhere on how to get this thing working. Any ideas?

    Thanks!

  3. George M

    Okay… I found the menus… now when I download I just get a browser screen of junk “urn:uuid…
    That it, it does not automatically bring up Overdrive… any ideas?

    • Brianne Carlon

      Hi George, I have sent your issue to our support team. They should be able to figure out the error. Sorry for the inconvenience. -Brianne