Motorola Xoom Tries to Raise Bar iPad Set

Apple's iPad set high standards for the tablet market, but Google's Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system, as witnessed running on the Motorola Xoom, looks like a winner.

There's no question Apple's iPad set the bar high for tablet computers last spring. The device has sold anywhere from 13 million to 14.5 million units.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab sold 1 million units in a few months, but this tablet is powered by Android 2.2, which not even Google would claim was optimized for the larger screens required by tablets.

Just as Google and its carrier partners countered the iPhone with the Nexus One and several other solid Android smartphones, the partners believe they have a solid answer in tablets powered by the forthcoming Android 3.0, or Honeycomb operating system.

The Motorola Xoom will launch running Android 3.0 next month, followed later this year by LG's G-Slate, Asus' Eee Pad Transformer and unnamed tablets from Samsung.

The Xoom sports a 10.1-inch screen powered by the Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor, which means it should easily be faster than the iPad.

The Xoom also boasts front- and rear-facing cameras, the chief hole the iPad has yet to fill, though that should change with the iPad 2 launch this spring.

Multitasking is another big gap for the iPad, where only one application runs at a time. The Xoom also offers an HDMI output to connect the tablet to the TV to play video or games.

Google Android engineer Mike Cleron showed off the Xoom Jan. 6 during Verizon's keynote at the 2011 Consumer Electronics show, where the device was feted as the best of the dozens of tablets introduced at the show in Las Vegas.

It became quickly clear during the demo that the Xoom, with thumbnail access points for touch gestures and multitasking capabilities instead of physical buttons, is a viable iPad challenger.