Motorola Xyboard Review
Loaded with features, the Motorola Xyboard makes a statement for innovation in the tablet arena.
Say hello to the new Motorola Xyboard, the follow-up to the Motorola Xoom (called the Xoom 2 overseas). For those of you looking for a media powerhouse, this tablet has the most features we've seen in a long while, and the included software really gives the Motorola Xyboard wings. Still, be wary of some battery issues, as this does not build on the performance of the Xoom in this area.
Design & Usability
Impressive design, plus a spill-proof case
Wow: this thing's light for a tablet. Because of the tiny dimensions and light materials used, the Motorola Xyboard is very easy to hold, and there's virtually no fatigue associated with long sessions. As far as tablets go, this is one of the better units to hold. Did we mention it's water-resistant? Don't worry about a light mist or spill, because there is a nano-coating on the outside and inside of the tablet that prevents liquids from shorting out connections that would normally kill any other tablet. That's a huge plus.
The controls for the Motorola Xyboard are accessed almost exclusively from the capacitive touch screen, but there are a couple physical buttons on the back that you should be aware of. For starters, the power/sleep/wake button is on the back of the right side (if held at a landscape orientation), and right next to it are the physical volume controls. Though some may lament the loss of physical buttons, it's more of a taste thing, as there are very few tablets that we've seen with physical buttons that enhance the experience by a large degree.
This is the point in the review where we tell you that the Motorola Xyboard has some fairly great connectivity options, many of which are seen on other tablets, but that doesn't make them any less useful. If you want a tablet that can interface with your computer and TV, you'd probably be delighted to know that the Motorola Xyboard has a micro-HDMI port, as well as several apps to handle things like streaming and remote office applications. On top of all that, Motorola joins Sony and Vizio in the universal remote application club with an IR-blaster to directly control your devices at home with an included application.
As with most tablets, the Motorola Xyboard has an on-board 802.11n wireless card, and there are other iterations of the device that are 4G-enabled, although they require a data plan. Also available is the ability to make use of Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, allowing you to tether accessories to your tablet. The Motorola Xyboard also has an assisted GPS unit that runs with the Google suite of navigation software, including Maps, Navigation, and Streetview.
As snazzy as the casing and features are, the internal guts are less so.
The screen of the Motorola Xyboard is a 8.5625 x 5.325 inch TFT LCD display that is IPS-enhanced. Like most of the higher-end tablets on the market, the touchscreen used by the Motorola Xyboard is capacitive, as well as semi-water-resistant. Similar to other Android tablets, the color gamut is lacking, though the contrast performance is actually decent.
One major drawback on the Motorola Xyboard is its highly reflective screen—even its moderately high brightness isn't enough to overpower the sun, so with these factors combined, it doesn't do terribly well in the outdoors unless it has some help from shade, cloud cover, or generally bad weather.
The battery life was very disappointing, considering that Motorola's Xoom tablet is a former champion of battery life on TRI. It was a little baffling to get the results back on the Xyboard and see that it lost well over an hour on both the eBook reading and the video battery life. With eBook reading clocking in at 6 hours, 9 minutes, and video playback at 5 hours, 37 minutes, the Xyboard's performance is a huge drop off in comparison to the Xoom's battery life.
Impressively feature-laden, but lacks power where it counts
The Motorola Xyboard is a very impressive, feature-laden tablet that will undoubtedly push other competitors in the tablet arena to focus on capability-driven performance. While many of its performance points like hardware and interface are very formidable, there are a couple nagging concerns mixed with some optimism for the future of the Motorola Xyboard.
We were impressed that Motorola crammed so many features like Bluetooth, an IR blaster, media streaming platforms, and a micro-HDMI port into the tablet without the user interface seeming cluttered or overloaded. The additional office applications are a huge plus if you're accustomed to taking your tablet on the road, especially if you need to access your remote desktop via Citrix, or if you need a video-conferencing application. The streaming support and capabilities for home media consumption are fantastic.
In spite of all this, the battery, while large for a tablet, seems to be leaned on a bit too heavily by the hardware, as we got surprisingly low battery life in our labs. We're not entirely sure why this is the case, as many other people report much higher results. Still, our results were repeatable, and we stand by them. A lackluster battery life may color your experience a bit if you're prone to using your tablet for more than 5 hours at a time.
Overall, if the price holds out at its current point, it is a strong contender among the top-tier of tablets on the market right now. The battery life is disappointing, but there are things you can do to mitigate this setback, even while keeping your brightness at a level comparable to the iPad. If you're looking for a tablet that can be used pretty much anywhere you go with a ton of functionality, you'd be hard pressed to find something better, outside of the Asus Transformer series of tablets.
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