Tablet

Motorola XOOM: Snap Review

Lucky dad. He told me a few days ago that his boss bought him the Motorola XOOM Wi-Fi 32GB, so he asked me to “enlighten” him on the tablet. Yesterday, he passed it to me and told me that I could “blog about it like what I always did for other gadgets”.

XOOM seen with the original Folio Case

To me, there is nothing exciting about XOOM since I already had experienced the Android Honeycomb on the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer (TF101). The Motorola XOOM runs on stock Android 3.0 firmware, which makes it rather uninteresting as compared to the Transformer. There aren’t any extra widgets or pre-installed entertaining apps or multimedia content like what ASUS provided. But here’s what I gathered from my snappy hands-on experience (less than 3 man hours to be exact).

Seeing double? The left is a life-sized brochure.

Screen – unfortunately, Dad has already applied a matt screen protector, which instantly makes the screen less appealing compared to the Transformer. I won’t go into further discussion, since comparison could be deemed unfair. If that’s any lesson learnt, it would be this: applying a screen protector would reduce the visual quality. I hope I am right, or else that would mean the XOOM is indeed having a less-stellar display.

Hardware buttons – XOOM has a large power button behind the left speaker which is within easy reach of the left hand finger. Kudos to that for ergonomic design. In contrast, the volume buttons are miserable in size, and I find it hard to press them easily. A microSD and/or SIM compartment on the top is covered by a cap, which reveals a bit of the circuit board. At the bottom, there is the micro-USB port. micro-HDMI port, and charger ports. The camera flash is a nice-to-have but I doubt anyone would be seriously using a tablet for flash photography.

Yes, I used a XOOM brochure for comparison, but hey that’s to scale.

Size – XOOM is the smallest 10.1″ tablet in the market, thanks to a thinner bezel. It’s even smaller than the iPad even with a larger screen.

Boasting “Dual Core Technology”. Eh… which Honeycomb tablet doesn’t have it?

Interface – it runs on stock Android firmware, so nothing special compared to the ASUS Transformer. Gotta go to the Android Market to download apps before you can enjoy the tablet, though there aren’t many apps that are optimised for Android tablets.I did install Zinio as they are offering free magazine downloads for a limited time. Strange though, the number of free magazines are different from the Transformer. Was the Zinio offering differentiated by tablet brands?

Zinio on XOOM gives me 3 free publications, compared to dozens on the Transformer

Usage experience does not deviate much from Transformer: the occasional crash warning, the jittery video playback on some encoding formats. Most of the times, the tablet runs smoothly as expected. I do prefer the size of the XOOM compared to the Transformer.

My thoughts – The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is definitely more useful for me, because it comes with a modular keyboard dock and pre-installed ASUS content. XOOM costs S$100 more: you lose the dock but gain 32GB built-in storage memory and smaller footprint.

I returned the XOOM to my Dad the following day so that he can enjoy the gadget. Unfortunately he does not have Wi-Fi at home, which is a huge pity, for the Internet is the ultimate gateway to the tablet experience.

Chester owns the Transformer tablet and is also a fan of TRANSFORMERS toyline. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/musicdiary/ as he is scheduled for some more gadgets review courtesy of xinmsn.

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