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.
NVIDIA® Tegra™ Dual Core Processor 1 GHz
1 GB LP DDR2
32 GB of internal storage
Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)
10.1” 1280×800 display
0.51 inches thick
3G (CDMA EV-DO Rev A)
4G LTE upgradeable
Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz
Megan Greer is a retail project manager for OverDrive.