Xoom, Unboxed

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Xoom, Unboxed

The device looks like just another iPad in and out of the box. After all, the Xoom measures 10.1 inches (diagonal) to the iPad's 9.7-inch screen.

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Flip it over, and we see the 5-megapixel high-definition camera, dual speakers, the inconspicuous power button and, of course, Motorola, Google and Verizon Wireless logos.

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You get a sense of how compact the Xoom is by laying it flat; it's only half an inch thick, or as thick as most smartphones. It measures 9.8 inches high and 6.6 inches wide. Also, it weighs 1.6 pounds, or as much as the first iPad (WiFi+3G version).

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Power Up

Turning on the device opens up a new world as a user gets a better appreciation of the Xoom's high-definition 1280-by-800 resolution screen.

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Google Maps on Xoom

Here is Google Maps with Latitude on the Xoom. When you tilt the Xoom, buildings pop up in 3D, thanks to the Honeycomb Renderscript graphics engine.

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Navigation with Google Maps

This is what you get when you type in directions in Google Maps. The results are much more appealing than on an Android smartphone.

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Renderscript is a big part of Honeycomb. The Google Books application on Honeycomb renders title images in 3D as you swipe from left to right.

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Choose a Title

Tap a title to begin reading a selection, which is very easy on the eyes. It's no coincidence the application was built to mimic print books. Another hook is that Google offers millions of works free.

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Preloaded Music on Xoom

Xoom is preloaded with several songs from various music artists, including Outkast, Sarah McLachlan and a dozen more. Clearly, this is a media-oriented tablet. Now, note the back button, home button and a third button on the lower-right-hand corner of the screen. That's where the treat is.

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Multitasking on Xoom

Tap that little button and up pop visual previews of applications and Web pages you've been playing with, surfing or working on. This is where the original iPad falls short.

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Working with Widgets

Tap the + symbol on the top right of the screen to see Honeycomb's widgets. These are mini-apps users may drag and drop to the any of the five customizable Honeycomb home screens on the Xoom.

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Handy Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia Widgets

One screen offers a Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia "grid" widget for bookmarks. Just tap the icon to go to the Website.

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Application Shortcuts on Tap

The Widget menu also features application shortcuts, which can also be dragged and dropped to any home screen.

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App Launcher

Of course, Xoom buyers likely want to see more than the pre-populated Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia widgets, so here is the broad application screen to show all applications, both those that come pre-installed and those installed by the user.

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Tablet cameras are unwieldy enough with users holding them up to point and shoot. It looks awkward, but the picture-taking software itself should not feel awkward. The Xoom doesn't disappoint here.

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The Playroom

Photos and video taken were crisp. Video supports 720p capture/1080p playback and streaming.

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Taking Self-Portraits

The camera also lets users snap photos of themselves, thanks to the front-facing 2MP camera that enables Google Chat and other video-chat applications.

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YouTube on Xoom

The Honeycomb YouTube application is a treat. It won't be mistaken for Google TV's YouTube Leanback application, but it's great nonetheless. It enables easy video play and sharing.

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