tablets

Motorola Xoom Tablet Review

The Android answer to Apple, it does everything the iPad can do, but without iOS.

May 23, 2011
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Controls

Despite the fact that more than 99% of your interaction with the Xoom will occur via the touchscreen, there are only very limited physical controls, located on the side and back of the tablet. Unfortunately, they encompass volume and power control, and that's it. To switch screens, you can flick your finger like you were turning a page, and if you want to open a program or app, you simply tap the icon lightly. In apps that allow it, you can pinch to zoom or rotate, and flick to pan or turn a page.

The touchscreen is very responsive and precise, and you should have no trouble acclimating yourself to the interface. The virtual keyboard is nice, if a bit slow to use by the very nature of the thing. Like the iPad and iPad 2, there is very little to no tactile feedback. Still, the user interface of Android Honeycomb is very well designed, and much more visually appealing than that of iOS (the iPad's operating system).

Possibly one of the cooler things about the Motorola Xoom is the fact that in addition to using a virtual keyboard in several different languages (we played around in chat with the Russian keyboard), you can actually use speech-to-text in many languages. In the past, programs that support this have been somewhat clunky and easily fooled, but when using the Mandarin Chinese speech-to-text, it even got the tones right. After we confirmed with the linguists on staff, we can tell you that this is outstanding.

On top of those input options, there is also the somewhat unique ability for the Xoom and the iPad to help those with special needs and disabilities to some good resultsby employing the vast talent available to Xoom owners via the Android market. These apps are relatively new, and much fewer in number in the Android market, but they are a very good thing to have available.

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity, it's really hard to knock a tablet that can use WiFi, 3G and computer transfers via USB that doesn't marry you to a frustrating program like iTunes. Still, the Motorola Xoom takes its product loyalty a little far, given that you have to download a bunch of software just to get it to work with a Mac computer.

If you have a PC, the transfer process is easy, as you do not have to install much in the way of software, and once you do that you can drag and drop files onto your tablet. The biggest downside is that the microUSB card slot is largely for show, as the Motorola Xoom does not currently allow you to use it without jailbreaking your tablet. We don't recommend doing this, but what you do with your tablet is no business of ours.

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Battery Life

The Motorola Xoom has a battery that will keep your tablet working for hours, even days at a time. In our tests, it was able to play audio continuously for over 24 hours, leaving a charge of 67% (meaning it can play audio for about 3 days, 3 hours straight). Keep in mind, too, that this is with the backlight cranked to maximum, so if you turn this down a bit, you may be able to squeeze a little more juice out of the battery if you can keep it bright enough to see wherever you are.

When reading eBooks, the Xoom managed to do well enough, lasting around 8 hours of constant reading. Keep in mind, we disable WiFi and crank the backlight for our testing, so your mileage may vary.

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Displaying video was also a breeze for the Motorola Xoom, as it lasted just over 8 hours of constant playback of one of the worst movies known to man. After that (and who could blame it, really?) it shut itself down.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Product Tour
  3. Screen
  4. Battery & Controls
  5. eReader
  6. Music & Audio
  7. Movies & Video
  8. Email & Web Browsing
  9. Internet Apps
  10. Apple iPad 2 Wi-fi & 3G / AT&T / 16 GB Comparison
  11. Velocity Micro Cruz Tablet T301 Comparison
  12. Amazon Kindle DX Comparison
  13. Conclusion
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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