Charging

Motorola advertises that the Xoom can fully charge in half the time of its leading competitor, requiring only 3.5 hours to charge completely. I will say that the Xoom does indeed charge very quickly, but the quick charging comes at a price.

The iPad charges over USB, although on the iPad end it’s exposed as a standard Apple dock connector. Connect it to a USB port that supports the battery charging spec and you’ll be able to charge the iPad slowly, and only when locked. Otherwise you’ll need to rely on the Apple supplied 10W power adapter. The benefit to this finicky approach is that you only need to carry one cable to sync and charge your device. Obviously it’d be even better if the cable in question were a standard micro USB but presumably if you’re an iPad/iPhone owner you’ve got at least some Apple dock cables laying around.

Motorola went a different route. There’s a standard micro USB port on the Xoom but it can’t be used for charging, only for data. Opposite the micro USB port is a very tiny power connector for the bundled 18W power adapter. When charging an empty battery the power adapter will draw up to 16.5W to help charge the Xoom as quickly as possible. The downside is obvious - you have to carry a much larger charging apparatus than just a cable with the Xoom.

I’m also concerned about the connector tip, it’s extremely tiny and is very flimsy (not to mention non-standard). I just worry about breaking it as it will require a completely new power adapter as a replacement.

The Display

I’ve got some good news and bad news. The good news is that the 1280 x 800 resolution on the Xoom’s 10.1-inch display is very nice. While I’m not sure that we’ve figured out the perfect tablet form factor/display resolution just yet, I will say that I hope it’s not 1024 x 768. The move to 1280 x 800 is at least a step in the right direction.

Display Brightness

Display Brightness

Display Contrast

The bad news is the screen isn’t all that impressive. On my sample I measured a peak brightness of 356 nits and a black level of ~0.48 nits, resulting in a 750:1 contrast ratio. This puts the Xoom near the iPad in terms of brightness and lower contrast. In practice the lower contrast ratio is noticeable:


Motorola Xoom (left) vs. Apple iPad (right)


Motorola Xoom (left) vs. Apple iPad (right)

In practice the lower contrast ratio makes the Xoom almost completely unusable in daylight. If you can shadow the screen with your head it’s less of a problem but it’s still a pain to use outdoors in the daylight particularly if you’re staring at a dark colored background. Web pages and the email apps are easier thanks to their white background.


Motorola Xoom (front) vs. Apple iPad (back)

The iPad in particular has better color reproduction at off-center viewing angles. Alone, the Xoom looks acceptable. Not great, but not horrible either.


Finger prints and glare are issues on the Xoom display just like they were on the iPad’s display. You’re going to want to carry around a microfiber cloth with you at all times.

The Hardware Welcome to Honeycomb
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  • Impulses - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    You know, if this were almost any other site I'd agree... But I actually like the way Anand constantly puts things in context by looking at the big picture and comparing products to their competition in the market. Reply
  • Impulses - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Oh and just for the record, I'm a big fan of Android, my phone's an EVO, and the only Apple product I've ever had is an iPod touch (16GB - 2nd gen)... I liked it as a music/video player, and a gaming device; but I don't see myself buying anything Apple in the foreseeable future. Reply
  • Azethoth - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Ugh. Please do not ever stop comparing a product against its competitors. I want to know that some feature sux / kills vs the corresponding feature for competitors. Reply
  • tiredad - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Compare Anand to Engadget. Engadget compare things to Apple products in a condescending way that i find patronising. It probably comes from their desire to wip up the pro and anti camps and thus sustain interest. Anand, on the other hand, compares products in an appropriate way that is informative to the reader. Comparison gives context and without context, value judgements are meaningless; done right, comparisons are essential.

    I love this site because it seems to simply love good technology irrespective of who makes it. I especially love that there is no arbitrary scoring system - you can read something and make your own judgement.
    Reply
  • wumpus - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    As long as Apple is the competition, Anandtech should compare to it.

    What I'm missing (gave up on, didn't see it in the long list for battery life) is the Nook Color. Since you can replace the software with honeycomb, this is pretty much the best deal for wifi-only tablets around. I guess the question is: "how far do you want to carry it, anyway?"
    Reply
  • Sam125 - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    These tablets or as I like to call them: Smartphone 2.0 is looking pretty attractive but I'm still left wondering if a tablet would be better served by using an Atom+Ion or Ontario SOC. Reply
  • peastham - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Sure it can...works for me with a stock cable. (HDMI just passes right through the dock.) Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Hmm it doesn't seem to be working for me - can you share your configuration (what display/other items in the HDMI chain)?

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • RHurst - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    I actually can use my iPad outside. It's obviously not a kindle, but it's surprisingly good. The iPad is actually better than my transflective Tablet PC (Motion LE 1700), exactly because it has tons of contrast and great viewing angles.

    The color shifting on the Xoom depicted in the review is shockingly bad. That it performs so bad outdoors tells me one thing: I won't buy it. I can't wait to see the LG and the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

    Thanks for the review, great reading!
    Reply
  • tekzor - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    moto has shocked me with the quality of this product.
    this is reviews reminds me of a similar experience I had on the samsung galaxy tab. The UI is updated for the tablet user but the experience is still not there yet. I will just have to stick to my ipad and if I want tegra 2 I have the viewsonic gtab and the good folks at XDA. Yes the screen is garbage on the gtab, however for the price($375), you get a tegra 2 and flash!! I feel the xoom should of costed $150 more than the gtab.
    Reply

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