The one that started it all i.e. Motorola’s Xoom, was the first commercially available tablet to rock Google’s Honeycomb OS. Launched in early 2011, Motorola took their own sweet time in bringing it to India, perhaps they were aiming for a fashionably late entrance. The company has launched two variants of the Xoom in India, a Wi-Fi only model and a 3G + Wi-Fi version as well both with 32GB of internal storage. Armed with Honeycomb 3.1, does the Xoom have what it takes to be a winner? Let’s find out.
Motorola Xoom: Reviewed on Video
Design and Build
Taking it out of the box, you’ll immediately notice that the build and finish of the device is top notch. An aluminium frame makes up most of the body which is smooth and does not attract fingerprints. The upper portion is plastic with a rubber coating, where the GSM, 3G and Wi-Fi radios are placed. At 730g, it weighs the same as the Acer ICONIA Tab 500 but somehow it doesn’t feel as heavy, probably due to better weight distribution of the components. You can easily use it single handed without feeling too much fatigue.
Bright and vivid screen
Most of the connectors are grouped together at the bottom which includes micro-USB port, mini-HDMI, docking connector, and charging port. There’s a volume rocker on the left while the SIM card and memory card slot and 3.5 headphone jack is placed on the top. There are two white LEDs hidden in the bezel. The one just above the charging port lights up when the tablet is charging and is switched off. The other one is placed on the right and is a narrow horizontal slit that glows when you get an alert like a new e-mail.
Matt finish doesn't attract fingerprints
On the back, we have stereo speakers, power/sleep button and the 5MP camera with dual-LED flash. The placement of the power button is a bit odd and if you’re using it for the first time, it’s a bit puzzling when you don’t find it on any of the edges. Overall the design is simple and straightforward which we quite liked. It’s not the slimmest or the lightest of the tablets in the market, but we already found it to be better than the ICONIA 500 if that says anything.
Our first experience of Honeycomb was not pleasant. 3.0 was just too buggy and refused to work as well as wanted it to. We are surprised how Google actually released such an unpolished build of Android in the first place. That’s all in the past now. The Xoom comes with 3.1 (or is upgradable, in case you bought an old unit). Motorola hasn’t done anything to the interface at all, it’s pretty much stock Android. However, the improvements are apparent right away. The sluggishness and jerky behaviour is almost non existent. Unlocking the device, switching orientations or browsing the menus is a lot smoother and responsive to input. In fact, Linpack recorded a single threaded score of 28.9 MFLOPS and a multi-thread score of 55.6. We also ran AnTuTu which gave us an overall score of 3775.
Stock Honeycomb widgets
The taskbar, which is the third icon from the bottom now let’s you view up to 17 previously opened apps so you can quickly switch whenever required. However, not all of them will run in the background but you can at least quickly access them this way. Another big and highly anticipated feature that everyone’s been waiting for is GTalk, now let’s you sign into multiple accounts. When you open the app, you can choose which gmail account you wish to sign into. Now, if only Google would make haste and release it for mobile devices as well.
The task bar now shows more apps
The 10.1-inch screen carries the same 1280x800 pixel resolution and the Xoom is powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 2 CPU which runs at 1GHz. The internal memory is 32GB and is the same for both, the Wi-Fi and 3G models. Overall, Honeycomb seems a lot more user friendly now but it still has some chinks in the armor like the bug which makes the tablet unresponsive when charging is still present.
Since Motorola hasn’t taken the trouble to include any custom player, you're stuck with the stock Android video player which has very limited functionality. The video player only supports MP4 and WMV file formats along with codecs like H.264 and H.263. Videos are accessed from the ‘Gallery’ itself, there’s no separate video app. 1080p videos play just fine provided they are in MP4 format. To be able to play more formats, you need to install Moboplayer or Rockplayer. The speakers aren’t bad and you can easily enjoy a movie without headphones.
The music player lacks any pre-sets or enhancements
The music player is a very basic with no equalizer pre-sets or enhancement options. The supported file formats include MP3, WAV, WMA and AAC+. Sound quality is once again just average so if you’re serious about music, then look elsewhere.
Our review unit was the 3G version, which had full support for quad-band GSM and HSDPA and HSUPA support. Along with this, we also have dual-band Wi-Fi ‘n’ support and Bluetooth v2.1. The 3G SIM can only be used for data since the Xoom does not have any telephony functions. You can however do VoIP calls through Skype or other apps if you really have to. The default WebKit browser is good enough for casual surfing as it supports, tabs, full Flash 10.1 support, etc. The 3G refused to work initially for whatever reason even though the tablet detected the presence of the SIM. After a couple of reboots it suddenly started working. This is probably another bug with 3.1 and other users have also reported this issue. Do let us know if you're a user and have faced a similar issue. MOTOROLA did inform us that in case of such a problem with 3G not gettig activated, it's recommended you get the SIM card changed. If that doesn't work you could either choose to be patient or get the piece replaced.
Finally, we can log into multiple accounts
When you connect the Xoom to the PC, you get a choice of putting the internal or external memory in mass storage, but you can’t have both together which was very weird. Also, once connected, the Xoom does not show up as a removable drive, instead it shows up as a ‘Media Device’. You can still drag and drop files in the device though. The standard apps include Gtalk, Gmail, Latitude, Google Maps and Places.
Besides the usual apps, the Xoom comes with a File Manager and Movie Studio app. The file manager lets you browse through the built-in and external memory. Movie Studio lets you edit videos you’ve shot with the camera.
The 5MP auto-focus camera is capable of 720p video recording at 30fps. The picture quality is strictly average for indoor shots while out-doors fair slightly better. The dual-LED flash is quite powerful and easily illuminates the subject in a pitch dark room provided you maintain a distance of 5-6ft.
Standard Andriod interface
The captured image is clear with good amount of detail. The camera options are once again the stock Android Honeycomb so you get White Balance, Colour Modes and Scene modes.
This was taken in pitch dark room
720p video recording is smooth for the most part but while panning, slight jerks are present. It’s not too much but it’s there.
Motorola doesn’t mention what capacity battery they’ve used in the Xoom, only that it will deliver up to 10hrs of video playback. In our video drain test, the tablet managed 7hrs and 15min. This is after playing an SD video content continuously with the brightness set to medium. If you leave the brightness in auto mode,you could squeeze out a bit more juice.
At Rs. 35,590 the Motorola Xoom’s only other competitor is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 750. Both are almost equally powerful and have similar feature sets, except for the fact that the Tab 750 has only 16GB of internal memory as opposed to 32GB on the Xoom. We can’t say for certain which is better until we’ve tested the Tab 750. In case you don't want to bother with 3G, the Wi-Fi only version retails for Rs.29,990 which is a bit more than the ICONIA Tab 500, but then you're also getting more built-in memory. Motorola is also bundling a case along with the Xoom as an introductory offer.
The Xoom is a well built tablet and after getting the 3.1 update, is a lot faster and easier to use. It has full 3G support and the largest built-in memory for a tablet in this price range. But apart from that, Motorola hasn't done any customizations of their own so out of the box, the Xoom’s feature set is pretty limited until you install apps. I think this is where Samsung’s TouchWiz UI may turn the tables in their favour. If it’s anything like their mobile version then we can expect a wider video and audio format support out of the box, DLNA, etc. When it comes to high-end tablets or phones for that matter, tasks like 1080p playback, HDMI, etc. don’t really matter since that’s what’s expected of the device. It’s the how the company customizes the experience to make it stand out from the rest and in that respect, Motorola seems to be lacking in a big way.
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