The Xoom's specs had the making of a winner but the rumors of a $700 - $800 price tag was already putting the tablet at a disadvantage before it even launches. Motorola first launches the 3G model at a high price of $799 in February 2011. Fortunately, a lower cost WiFi version became available a month later on March 27th. So is the Xoom worth $600? What about Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)? Is it better than the 2.2 tablets that were on the market. Let's find out.
The Xoom has a strong feel and has a high quality build (body is anodized aluminum). In addition, the screen is made of the tough Gorilla Glass. The Xoom has Micro USB port, headphone jack, an unusable micro-SD/LTE SIM slot, mini-HDMI port and DC Power port. The external speakers are very good although we are not fond of speakers on the back. The sound is projected away from you. Even the cheap Zenithink had speakers on the bottom side. Overall, the speakers are decent and loud. However once you get to about a quarter of way, the sound is barely noticeable even with headphones. Nonetheless, we played music and watched videos on a very high volume with minimal distortion. Overall, the exterior quality is excellent.
The Motorola Xoom does include a 5MP rear facing camera and a 2MP front facing. The rear camera takes good pictures and HD videos (see video of Additional Footage). However, I am not sure how many people will use a 10” table to take pictures or video. The front camera is OK for video conferencing or using as a mirror but that is about it.
There are three physical buttons on the Xoom. The volume is on the left hand side although the buttons are tiny and not easy to find if you are not looking directly at them. The power/reset button is uniquely placed on the back of the tablet near the rear camera and LED flash. There are no physical Home; Menu; and Back buttons since Android 3.0 incorporates them into the OS.
Included accessories are micro USB cable adapter, DC power adapter/charger, and user guide. Micro HDMI cable is sold separately although you can get one for cheap on eBay.
The Xoom also includes a Compass, GPS & a barometer (not sure why this was included). Boot time is approximately 36 secs which is slightly less than the Archos 70 running Android 2.2 (39 seconds).
The tablet has a mini-HDMI port which one can connect to a HDTV. Not only can you watch movies and pictures but can also simultaneously project what is on the Xoom screen. Therefore, you can play games while watching it on the HDTV. See our video below to see. Overall, the multimedia experience was excellent.
The Xoom is the first table to run Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). Every other tablet manufacturer is probably keeping an eye on how well the Xoom does. This review did not concentrate on Honeycomb but we were impressed with its tablet-specific UI. It does the job well but it still needs to be improved upon. Our two main gripes with Honeycomb is 1) lack of a native file manager; and 2) lack of true task manager/switcher. Android is “better” than Apple's iOS because it can multi-task. However, Honeycomb still fails to easily switch open apps. RIM's PlayBook and HP webOS do this well so why can't Android? Even the Notion Ink Adam created an app switcher to easily change apps. Also there is a lack of tablet specific apps on the Android Market.
The Motorola Xoom performs well. If the price was not so high, we may overlook some of its weaknesses. It is a powerful tablet and the best non-Apple tablet currently on the market. We are giving it a 4.22 out of 5 points which is the highest score we have given a tablet. Many other Android tablets (at a lower price) will be launching this year so it will be difficult for Motorola to become a leader unless it reduces its price.