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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  • robco - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    From the OS standpoint, I will say I like the Honeycomb home screen better, it utilizes the added space much better than the iPad does. The hardware looks nice, but we'll see how it compares after March 2nd.

    That being said, while looking at the tech specs and OS are nice, neither are what will make or break the Xoom. Tablets are content consumption devices. Apple has done a tremendous job bringing content to end users. And they are consuming it. And paying for it. It's incredibly easy to rent or purchase music, movies, TV shows, books and apps from an iOS device or share them with a connected Mac or WIndows PC. I didn't see anything like this in the Xoom. Does Google, Moto or VZW have any content available? As of last WWDC (almost a year ago now), Apple stated they've paid developers over $1B. Given the relatively short time the App Store has been live and the low cost of most apps, this is a very impressive number. How much has Google paid out via the Android Market? It sends a message that iOS is a profitable platform - and not just for Apple. Not only has Apple sold a lot of devices, users are actually paying for apps and content.

    This seems to be Android's weakness. Google seems interested in Android only as an advertising platform. As such, besides the Android Market, which just recently received a much needed makeover, Google has done little to bring content to the platform beyond its own ad-driven properties. They seem content to let the device manufacturers or carriers do that. The problem is that while Android may be surpassing iOS in sales, none of the individual device makers or carriers really has the resources, clout and/or inclination to build the bridge between content providers/developers and end users the way Apple has. Despite Google's efforts, the gap in apps between Android and iOS remains high, despite Apple being more "closed", requiring a Mac for development and charging more to get apps on their store.

    The file transfer looked clunky. No mention of whether or not companies like Netflix or Amazon will offer content. If I want to rent a movie or buy a song on an iOS device, it's a few taps. Can I do that on a Xoom? When my friends show me cool apps on their iPads, will I be able to download the same or similar apps to my Xoom? That is what will make or break the Android tablet business, - not SoC's, memory, displays and cameras.
  • bplewis24 - Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - link

    Do you own an Android device currently?

    Yes, when your friends show you cool apps from an iOS device, chances are highly likely that you will be able to download it on your Android device. And for all of the apps you cannot, there are plenty for Android that they cannot as well.

    Lastly, I feel you seem to be assuming that Android isn't profitable for developers and that there is a lack of content in spite of the evidence to the contrary. Do you really think Amazon would be releasing their very own App store for the Android OS if Google didn't care about content?

    If you really think that the gap between quality, non-superfluous apps that real people download and consume every day is that large, you may be getting your information from the wrong sources.

  • billyblonco - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    The Xoom is pretty fast on loading pages but the atrix was right behind it,even tho the atrix has flash and the xoom and ipad does not.
  • sb1831 - Saturday, February 26, 2011 - link

    I've had my Xoom for over 24 hours now, and have yet to have a a force close nor has my fiancee on hers. I was wondering if you had a production unit or a test unit.

    As for my experience with the tablet. Everything is snappy with no lag at all that I've notice. Switching from one app to another is easy. I'm a big fan of Honeycomb. It does remind me a lot more of a traditional desktop OS. With that being said, my 60 year old mother played with it for a little over an hour and a half last night, and was amazed at how quickly she picket it up.

    She's familiar with computers, and owns a netbook, but is seriously thinking of going out and getting a wifi version when it becomes available. It's simple enough for her to know that a browser will get you to the internet, and actually commented on how the browser reminder her of the one on her desktop (Chrome LOL) That to me speaks volumes about how easy this thing is to use. I really didn't even need to guide her at all that much. She managed to pull up some music and download angry birds from the market

    I think that when tablets become more common and the prices start to come down a bit, people will think that the Honeycomb OS is closer to the experience they're used to and will side with it. I put it next to my iPad and the first thing I though was "Everything I really use is right here on the main screen browser, gmail, music, and the market." iOS looked clustered to me and almost like a toy next to the Xoom. I thought "hmmm if the apps shortcuts were vertical and the clock in the gadget sidebar like in Win7 it would look pretty much like a desktop. "

    All in all I'm a big fan of the Xoom, and unless the iPad2 makes some drastic changes and starts to feel more like an actual desktop based OS I will be selling my iPad and sticking with the Xoom.
  • OCedHrt - Saturday, February 26, 2011 - link

    The battery lives in the first chart are shorter than the second chart. Shouldn't it be the other way around?
  • PubicTheHare - Sunday, February 27, 2011 - link

    What Anand said about the screen is 100% spot on. It seems cheap--grainy, low contrast, poor viewing angles.

    The screen wasn't super responsive like the iPad's. I will wait for the iPad 2 before I start looking at tablets.
  • j.harper12 - Sunday, February 27, 2011 - link

    This read as one long sales pitch for the Optimus 2X to me... really, the Optimus 3D, as, if I'm not mistaken, it did even better in benchmarks. Seriously though, impressive results from the Xoom, do you really have to solder the LTE card though? I thought there was just a placeholder for a mini PCI-E card...

    Really, though, Nvidia told me not to buy the Xoom... you know, when they announced quad core Tegra 3 would be available by the end of the year with 5x the performance. Definitely can/will wait until Christmas for a tablet. Ancillary benefit? Tablet Android will have the kinks worked out then.

    Also interested in seeing what's coming March 2nd. Can't wait for next year's "Retina" display on a tablet... because it'll force everyone else to up the resolution. Not really an Apple person, but always happy and impressed with how Apple can up the ante for everyone else.
  • j.harper12 - Sunday, February 27, 2011 - link

    My comment was a joke by the way, I'm always impressed with how unbiased this website is... so I just don't want people thinking I genuinely thought this article was a sales pitch for the Optimus 2X, I'm speaking only to the benchmark results.
  • ATOmega - Sunday, February 27, 2011 - link

    $600 for a wifi model? Rip off. I remember some of the big talk before Android and several of the ARM-based chipsets being "cheaper". Where did that go? Oh yeah, investor greed.

    Tablets need to come way down in price, especially considering how notoriously poor the after-purchase support is. You're forgotten the second you buy any Android device. Good luck contacting the manufacturer, let alone hoping for OS updates.

    Also, the heavy reliance on cell phone companies is disappointing. They don't make the devices, but they still have some influence, I really wish google would do something about this market. It's turned into one big gouge.
  • bplewis24 - Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - link

    I personally think the non-Motorola branded tablets will be much more reasonable in price. Specifically the Asus Transformer.


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