Reviews for Motorola's Xoom Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet computer have been largely positive. Now Moto just has to convince people to buy it in the face of the Apple iPad 2.
Putting aside the somewhat steep
$599 price tag (with a two-year Verizon Wireless contract),
Motorola's Xoom has garnered solid reviews from noted industry analysts at its
Feb. 24 launch.
A 10.1-inch slate computer, Xoom is the first such device to run Google's
ballyhooed Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system optimized for the
tablet form factor. This slate is powered by Nvidia's Tegra 2 1-GHz dual-core
Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, who believes the Xoom will be
a tough sell, commented favorably about the camera, however: "When you use
the camera, for example, it anticipates that you'll be holding it in landscape
mode with your right thumb on the screen, and it simulates the radial control
dial of a real camera under your thumb," Epps wrote
. "There are no awkward moments, as there were
with earlier Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Dell Streak."
Noted blogger and devout Apple iPad fan (he owns three) Robert Scoble
praised the Xoom and provided this video demo
of the device, noting that the Xoom's multitasking
capabilities, notifications and resolution are all superior to the
Scoble was partial to the fact that the Xoom sports solid battery life, dual
cameras, an HDMI connector and better speakers than the iPad.
He also said the native Google apps-including Gmail, Google Maps, and Google
Calendar apps-"are WAY better than the ones on iPad," which is a good
segue to one of the things Scoble dislike about the Xoom: the paucity of apps
written for Honeycomb.
"There aren't any apps that are designed for it yet. I have three -secret'apps
that will be out soon, but three goes against, what, 30,000+ for iPad?"
Like Scoble, GigaOm's Kevin Tofel found a lot to appreciate about the
device, which will be upgradeable
to Verizon's 4G LTE network later this year. Tofel
also touched on
the Android apps issue:
"Current Android apps aren't all suited for the big screen. The size of
icons in Facebook, for example, appears to be the same size used on my Android
smartphone, leaving vast amounts of empty space. It's going to take time before
true tablet apps appear on Honeycomb. Even Angry Birds looks a little blocky up
close at the moment."
Industry analyst Jack Gold dismissed the dearth of Honeycomb-optimized apps
on the Xoom, telling eWEEK
Android apps can be ported/optimized for Honeycomb.
"They just haven't been [ported] yet, since the [software development
kit] has not been available until recently," he noted. "So it is
premature, in my opinion, to say there are few apps available for
Honeycomb/Xoom. It's true today, but I'll bet you'll see a very steep ramp of
apps targeted at Honeycomb in the next few weeks running up to the actual
release of the device, and the app wars-Android vs. Apple-will escalate."
Overall, the tenor of the early Xoom talk would bode well for the tablet. .
.if it weren't for the fact that it launched one week before Apple's iPad is
expected to make its much-anticipated debut at a media event in San Francisco on
March 2. At the event, tech watchers expect to see a thinner
iPad with dual cameras and other new perks that polish the original device,
which sold 15 million units last year.