Price (RRP): $840 outright, less on contract
Motorola’s Xoom was the first tablet to be released running Android 3.0 (a.k.a. Honeycomb), which has since been updated to 3.1. It’s a product that came with a few rough edges; Android 3.0 was occasionally prone to crashes, the microSD port was disabled and it was a little heavier and a little thicker than the competition. It was (and is) also extremely expensive. Fortunately, many of its niggling software issues have also been addressed since its release, and right now it’s a very stable tablet.
The hardware is certainly very impressive. It has just about everything you could ask for in a tablet, including excellent cameras, a very nice screen and plenty of processing power.
Much of what we said about Android 3.0 in the Asus review also holds true here. Android 3.1 is a very slick, very capable operating system, although more complicated than Apple’s iOS. It has some truly great apps on it as well, most especially Google’s own apps, including Goggles, Translate, Google Maps, Google Mail and more.
We were a little disappointed in its home entertainment tools, however. Its media creation tools are weak at best, not a patch on those found on iOS. AV equipment suppliers have not yet embraced Android like they did iOS, so there’s a dearth or control apps for home equipment. There are some third-party apps available to remote control devices, but we wouldn’t recommend them.
And its media playback capabilities are spotty. It has HDMI output and supports Flash, which is great, but its native music and movie players aren’t much to get excited about. In fact, to find the movie player at all you have to do some digging into the OS, since it’s not immediately obvious how you play videos.
You also have to generally copy media to the device before playing, at least without using third-party apps. You do have some OK options with third-party software, which can be downloaded from the Android Market directly onto the tablet. ES File Explorer, for example, lets you copy files from a Windows computer over WiFi, while UPnPlay lets you stream media from a home media server. Although these applications are free and available right now, they’re still very, very rough and far too complicated for the average home user.