Best Buys iPad 2 Showcase

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Best Buys iPad 2 Showcase

Here is the Trumbull, Conn., Best Buy's rather lonely iPad 2 showcase at opening time, 10 a.m. March 12. This Best Buy sold out of the popular tablet when it launched the night before. When eWEEK covered the first iPad launch April 3, 2010, this same store had a small line of people lined up to buy the few dozen available units. While that launch featured four iPads on display for consumers to play with, the iPad 2 curiously received just this simple display. However, eWEEK was able to walk right up and slap down our Xoom test unit from Verizon Wireless right next to the lone iPad 2 test model.

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A Look at the Apps Screens

Here is a quick peek at app screens on both the iPad 2 and the Xoom, which eWEEK briefly tested here.

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The Back

Next, eWEEK flipped the devices over for a quick comparison. We were interested to find the iPad 2 back is oriented in portrait mode, while the Xoom's rear panel is tailored for landscape mode. Is this a commentary on the intended uses for each tablet? We won't go that far. Still, it's an interesting design detail.

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Comparing the Sides

We were surprised to see the iPad 2 and Xoom appeared even in the thickness department even though technically this is far from the case. The Xoom measures 0.5 inches, or 12.7 millimeters, while the iPad 2 comes in at 0.34 inches, or 8.8 millimeters.

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iPad 2 Xoom Race

We did some searches and ran other apps, such as "Angry Birds" on the iPad 2 and Xoom, testing for speed and other performance details. Benchmarks show the iPad 2's A5 processor whipping the Xoom's Tegra 2 dual-core chip, but we didn't see it in our 15 minutes with the device. Both devices rendered Web pages, apps and other data fluidly.

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Screen Contrast on YouTube

While the Xoom technically has a higher-resolution screen than the iPad 2, 1,280-by-800 to 1,024-by-768-pixel resolution, respectively, the iPad 2's screen just appeared lighter and crisper next to the Xoom, which was fairly dark and gloomy even when we toggled brightness on and off. This was readily noticed by Best Buy shoppers passing buy and could influence consumer purchasing.

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Checking Out Graphics, Multitasking

Where the Xoom beat the pants off the iPad 2 was in the graphics and multitasking department. Note the app fragments on the Xoom. The iPad 2 has nothing like this, which makes a difference. Also, just as an overall feel, the Xoom felt like it was made for adults. Certainly iOS is easier to use, but its colorful icons and overall UI felt fat and looked cartoonish next to the Xoom, which felt sleek and muscular.

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Working with the Keyboard

We tested the virtual keyboards on the iPad 2 and Xoom, finding both comparable in terms of ease of use. That is, we did fine typing e-mails and entering search queries. But we wouldn't want to type research papers on these devices without the aid of Bluetooth keyboards.

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Running Searches

Search, as was most application consumption, was a joy on both devices. Games looked good on both. But the Renderscript graphics engine of the Honeycombed Xoom gets the edge.

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Logging onto Yelp

Here is Yelp on both the iPad 2 and the Xoom. Yelp and Google don't get along so well because of the whole local search rivalry issue. But Yelp is preloaded on the iPad 2.

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The iPad 2 Running Solo

Here are some iPad 2 solo shots. See iTunes on the tablet.

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Gaming on the iPad

Here is Apple's GameCenter on the iPad 2.

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Downloading Apps to the iPad 2

Apps for download on the iPad 2 are rendered far more attractive than on the Xoom, whose Android Market still needs work.

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Here is good old Wikipedia on the iPad 2.

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