Motorola XOOM Review

The Software

The Motorola XOOM uses Android 3.0 Honeycomb as it’s operating system and unfortunately I have not used any other android device enough to put Honeycomb through it’s paces, but I’ll give it my best shot.

After powering up the XOOM you’re greeted with the LockScreen that displays the time and date, as well as the padlock icon that you just drag to the outer edge of the circle to unlock.

Upon being brought to the Homescreen, obviously you’re going to want to play around with a few settings; perhaps add some different applications to the homescreen or adjust brightness, connectivity or privacy settings. All of this can be done by clicking either the Apps menu in the top right (which brings up all of the installed applications as well as the Settings icon) or by clicking the plus symbol to modify how the homescreen looks by adding widgets, different applications and more.

31 550x366 Motorola XOOM Review

Some Android devices come with pre-installed software or modified versions of the OS, the Motorola XOOM does not. This means that as Google release updates and newer versions of Android, there should not be any delay or waiting period for XOOM users, they should all be at the front of the queue for the update. This will be great news for many Android users due to the fact that manufacturers such as Samsung release different modified versions of Android on nearly every single one of their devices and do not release the updates for months after the original “untampered” version was released; this obviously causes a great deal of annoyance and anger for some Android users.

The main few software features I’ll be discussing are the Camera application, Gaming and Web Browsing.

The camera application included houses a variety of different settings and features for the XOOM. These features come in very handy whilst recording HD video or taking snapshots of the family. You have access to white balance settings, flash and colour settings as well as different scene settings depending on where you’re recording.

Whilst in picture mode, you also have access to an 8x digital zoom which when pushed to the max, produces some very blurry photos but in the right light, the photos and videos are amazing quality, not the best but definitely up high on the list.

To test the gaming performance of the Motorola XOOM, we’ve downloaded that much loved game… yes you’ve guessed it! Angry Birds! We couldn’t just test the XOOM using Angry Birds though so we’ve downloaded a racing game as well.

The XOOMs display is definitely one of the main selling points. The gaming experience is just amazing; the display is crisp, graphics are smooth and there is no lag whatsoever. Take a look at the video below of me failing at playing a game, that’s not the point though – the graphics are smooth, the colours are great and the quality is miles better than quite a few devices out there.

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Angry Birds is again, very high quality. A few features regarding sound that I am not very keen on are the location of the speakers and the flushness of the volume controls to the device. I did find that if you lay the device flat on a table surface or carpet, the sound becomes distorted slightly, which is quite disappointing to say the least – this made listening to music or watching films quite difficult at times unless you have purchased one of the docking stations for the Motorola XOOM.

The way that the volume controls have been implemented is also slightly odd. Trying to push them in to change volume proved to be a slight struggle if you’re in the middle of playing a game due to the fact that you REALLY have to push them quite hard to get any sort of response; even then the volume might go up too high due to the excessive force you have use to get the buttons to do anything.

Web Browsing on the XOOM using Honeycomb is just flawless really; even with 10 different tabs open, I still managed to enjoy a lag-free experience that involved playing flash video, reading news stories and visiting many large websites. The tabbed browsing is a great feature that can also be found in iOS 5 for the iPad once it is released, a bit behind the times but it’s nice to see Apple implementing features that other OS users have had for quite some time now…

A great feature of the browser is also the “downloads” window that shows all files you’ve downloaded or are downloading, something that isn’t available to do on the iPads browser, Safari.

All standard gestures such as pinch to zoom and scrolling worked very well with almost no lag depending on the website. A few news sites with many images and other content seemed to be slightly slower than others.

Verdict

All in all, the Motorola XOOM is a well built easy to use device that, when combined with Android Honeycomb, provides a wide range of features for your device and it looks great. Some features of Honeycomb were also present in previous versions of Android and some are brand new, such as the new Gmail application that has had a complete re-design which looks and works brilliantly.

The simple and easy menu system is also a plus as it provides fast access to all features and settings on your device within a few touches to the screen.

One feature I do like but have a few problems with is the camera. Although the quality is superb, I did find that holding up the XOOM to record a video quite a task due to the sheer weight and size of the device. This is my personal opinion though as I’ve also recorded using the iPad 2 and I’m not a big fan of that either. It’s most likely me being miserable, but I’d much rather have just one good quality front facing camera on a tablet as this is most likely the feature I’d use over a rear camera with applications such as Skype, MSN and other video services.

The XOOM costs between £400 – £480, depending on where you purchase. I’d recommend buying online though to avoid being charged about £50 extra because High Street shops tend to be a lot more expensive than online retailers. This isn’t a bad price, it’s in the same sort of price range as the iPad 2 and the Blackberry PlayBook.

If you’re looking to purchase a dock for your brand new XOOM, this will set you back about £40 for the standard version.

Pros

  • Easy to use Android Honeycomb software
  • Not overly large, fits in hands quite nicely
  • Good camera for both video and still photos
  • The Tegra 2 processor and 1GB DDR2 RAM allow for a much faster, enjoyable experience

Cons

  • Very heavy compared with other devices currently available
  • Volume control buttons are hard to use at times
  • Power button could be in an easier to find place

8/10