What Needs Work on the Xoom

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-03-02 Print this article Print

Criticisms. One obvious one about the software is the lack of apps tailored for Honeycomb. Sure, you can choose any of the 130,000-plus Android Market apps, but most won't fit on the Xoom properly because they weren't optimized for tablets.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said there were 100 Honeycomb-tailored apps compared to 65,000 for the first iPad. I'm certain I'll never need 100 apps ever on a device at one time, let alone 65,000, but choice matters to people.

One annoying hardware detail is the tiny, almost non-existent volume buttons on the left side of the Xoom. Slightly less annoying was the mini power button on back. These are not ideal for clumsy fingers like mine.

Also, wiping the screen clean is a constant chore. Unfortunately, I prefer darker wallpapers, so when I switched from a bright Android background to a darker one, I saw my smudges. We need a screen technology where finger oils evaporate on contact. My guess is Apple will nail that one first.

Should you buy a Xoom? Depends. Do you prefer Android products and loads of integrated Google apps, such as Google Talk, YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Places and Google Latitude? They, along with games such as Angry Birds and others, are rendered deliciously on the Honeycombed Xoom. If so, a Xoom is right for you.

We now know the iPad 2 is cheaper, priced from $499 to $829, depending on what version you get, making it more cost effective than the Xoom. But part of the justification for the Xoom's higher cost is that it's 4G-upgradeable for free on Verizon's 4G LTE network later.

It's important to note the iPad 2, sports a new A5 dual-core processor, but won't know whether the Xoom or iPad 2 are faster until the latter ships March 11.

So even if the iPad 2 is as fast or faster than the Xoom, there is the promise of greater speed to consider if you're Verizon-inclined. Folks who prefer Android to Apple iOS will likely grab a Xoom. You can't go wrong with the Xoom if you're looking for speedy Web surfing and multitasking.

You just have to be willing to spend a little more... or wait. That's right, with the iPad 2 priced the same as the first iPads, I predict we'll soon see a Xoom price drop to $499 with contract, maybe $699 without contract, just as we saw all 4 major U.S. carriers slash the 7-inch Galaxy Tab when it failed to sell.

You may also wait to see the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, LG Slate or Toshiba tablet pricing later this year. But if you need a Honeycomb tablet now, the Xoom will serve you well.



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