The Motorola XOOM Android tablet goes on sale in the US tomorrow, and a number of tech web sites are publishing detailed reviews of the XOOM in advance of the launch. The XOOM will be the first tablet to ship with Google Android 3.0 and Verizon Wireless will offer a 3G capable version of the tablet for $599 when you sign up for a 2-year contract, or for $799 if you go contract-free.
It sounds like there are still a few kinks to work out. The microSD card slot, for instance, is currently non-functional. And as expected, Adobe Flash isn’t working yet, although Adobe promises it will be available soon. But by all accounts the XOOM has great build quality, a good high resolution display with decent viewing angles, a super-fast processor, and good battery life.
Here’s a summary of some of the early XOOM reviews:
- SlashGear: The tablet is a bit heavy for one-handed use, but build quality and performance are good. The battery lasted 14 hours in SlashGear’s test while playing video, and surfing the web over WiFi and 3G.
- Engadget: The tablet is speedy, but slows down a bit when switching tasks quickly or copying files. The speakers sound a bit distorted at loud volumes. And the tablet appears to be designed primarily for use in landscape rather than portrait mode. The battery lasted for nearly 8.5 hours of video playback. Engadget concludes that the tablet feels like more of a laptop replacement than an iPad does, but the software still needs some work.
- Android Community: Android 3.0 is different enough that you’re best off thinking of it as a new OS, rather than the same thing you run on a smartphone – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
- jkOnTheRun: The rubberized back and touch experience are good, but the button layout is somewhat awkward.
- CNET: The on-screen keyboard is easy to use in both portrait and landscape. The screen isn’t as bright as the iPad’s thought.
- MobileCrunch: Build quality is good, but the battery is not user replaceable. The Tegra 2 processor feels faster than the iPad’s A4 chip… until you open too many apps and things start to get slow. Apple’s limited multitasking support might give the iPad an edge here.
- Laptop Magazine: The tabbed web browser makes surfing the web a much better experience. Video chat using Google Talk is better than Qik, but the quality isn’t quite as good as Apple’s FaceTime.
- PC Magazine: The screen is great but the user interface is a bit complicated and Android Market still trails the App Store in terms of apps. PC Mag rules that while the XOOM is the best Android tablet available, the iPad is still a better device.
It seems like a lot of reviewers are having a hard time avoiding comparisons to Apple’s iPad, which isn’t surprising since the iPad is currently dominating the tablet market. But the question of whether the year-old iPad or the brand new XOOM is the better buy still seems to be up in the air.
On the one hand, the XOOM beats the iPad hands-down on specs. It has a dual core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, a high resolution 1280 x 800 pixel display, front and rear cameras, expansion ports, and more. On the other hand, the iPad has more apps and it doesn’t slow down or crash when you’re running too many of them at once.
Of course, it’s probably not fair to compare the XOOM to the first generation iPad, since Apple is preparing to launch its second generation iPad next week.
The Motorola XOOM is also just the first Android 3.0 tablet to hit the streets. We can expect to see many more from companies including Asus, Samsung, and Toshiba later this year.