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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  • GotThumbs - Friday, March 18, 2011 - link

    Motorola was just taking advantage of early adopters....Come March 27th. the 599.00 WIFI only version will be released. This directly competes with ipad pricing. :-) I'm getting one of those babies for sure. No apple 'force fed' products for me. I like making my own choices....
  • onelin - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Could you add some video playback battery life comparisons with the iPad? I am interested if that matches up similar to the web browsing.
  • omidk - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Does this support caldav or exchange?

    Its been pretty frustrating having to rely on vendor customizations for exchange support. If google would build in caldav I think a lot of people could run stock android.
  • TareX - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    The browser (provided that it gets flash) is what should make people choose this as opposed to the iPad.

    Who needs money-draining apps when you have a PC-like browsing experience?
  • mlambert890 - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    I really feel this is academic and minutiae to justify a predetermined position.

    I use the iPad every day. I am not a "fan" of anything and actually spent my entire 30s working at Microsoft - a full decade.

    I can honestly say, using the iPad *every day* that there is ever a time I am cursing the browser and wishing I had a "real PC experience". Occasionally I miss flash, but the world is moving towards HTML5 anyway and rightly so.

    If, on the other hand, your goal is to replicate a desktop on a tablet, and you will barely use it or use it as a complete notebook replacement for outlier cases, then you might want some of what Anand covered here.

    I submit that 90% of the market for these devices do not fit in that category at all.

    All odf the same BS was said about Netbooks. I remember this chatter *inside* MSFT as well. Total disconnect from what the real mass market growth space wants and needs. This is why apple continues to do so well. Apple directly serves "the sheep", as the "hardcore" like to label regular folks. Thing is... The "sheep" spend 90% of the money.

    As for apps, I think ive spent maybe a total of $50 on iPad software, so your implication that somehow a fortune must be spent to supplement Safari with apps is ridiculous. Try being objective and lose any brand bias or personal use case focus and you will see this differently.

    Android on phones did well by copying Apple and then spreading cheap devices across lots of carriers. Period, the end. Any side effect that appeals to geeks ("openness", Linux base, whatever) is there in spite of that success, it is not a cause.

    If Google attempts to create a desktop UX on a tablet, I am almost certain they will fail to capture anything but an extremist niche.
  • bplewis24 - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    I really feel this is academic and minutiae to justify a predetermined position.

    Oh, and that's me responding to your post, not a quote.

    And you really just come off as an idiot or fanboy by saying that Android did well by "copying Apple and .. spreading cheap devices across a lot of carriers." That is one of the dumbest things I've ever read online that wasn't uttered by Glenn Beck.

    As far as your last sentence, you keep being certain of that, just as much as you are probably certain that the rest of your post doesn't come off as irrational drivel.

  • ccrobopid - Saturday, February 26, 2011 - link

    > And you really just come off as an idiot or fanboy by saying that Android did
    > well by "copying Apple and ..

    He maybe came off as an idiot (I don't think so) but I think he's right. I see people with android phones trying to use them as iPhones and ignoring the rest of the features.

    I, as a tech savvy user feel ignored by tech manufacturers. It's clear to me that my tastes are not those of the majority. I have to buy 16:9 laptops for programming, if I want a tablet with a good screen I have to give up having a file system or watching content in the formats I want, etc., etc.

    I wonder what would happen if we, as the workforce that make all this products for the masses possible will get on strike and refuse to work until products that appeal to us are made.

    We are a minority, but I feel unfair to be ignored like any other minority by the people we work for
    :D :D
  • bplewis24 - Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - link

    While you are correct in saying that the majority of the people who own Android phones likely don't utilize all of it's features and use them as iPhone clones, so to speak, that doesn't mean that Google has copied Apple in it's OS vision.

    Anand goes into detail in the first page about how Google has decided to differentiate itself with Android, and I think most tech-savvy people realize that there are some very key, significant differences with the two software platforms. Stock Android from the G1 was vastly different from iPhoneOS of that day.

    While both have added significant features and ultimately will continue to copy each other's advancement or try to best it, they still go about it in different ways. For example, iOS continues to try to catch up in the multi-tasking arena, but they still do so differently.

  • spinron - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    I have a Pandaboard here (a TI OMAP4 reference platform) and just for fun I loaded it with XBMC and configured it with the full suite of TI's proprietary drivers (DSP, IVA, PowerSGX, etc). It played pretty much anything I threw at it, including some very high bit rate AVC in MKV containers that put quite a strain on dedicated Sigma silicon. My guess is that the Tegra2 has comparable video decoding power, so whether Xoom-like tablets will become universal video players will essentially boil down to software availability. So strictly speaking, Kal-el-like hardware is probably not going to be required just for that purpose.

    Great review! It's certainly much more objective than most of the others. Walt Mossberg's review on ATD was particularly funny (and simultaneously sad) to watch.

    Your mobile SB review looked so convincing it looks like my next major buy is probably going to be a new SB i7 MBP. Coupling fast I/O with a laptop seems like a real game changer, most certainly in Apple's world. Can't wait for a review...
  • halcyon - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Finally a tab that almost manages the 10hr mark on benchmarks.

    That means that in true real-world usage it might really last the 8hrs, even after the battery has been through a few recharge cycles.

    The screen is bit of a let-down as you state.

    Ah well, here's hoping Samsung did the right thing on their tablet.

    The wait continues.

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