Motorola Xoom Review
I had the Motoroloa Xoom in my possession for about two weeks; long enough to get an ample feel for what the device has to offer. The Motorola xoom is a beautiful device boasting a 10.1” 16:10 ratio screen. This ratio gives it a bit “longer” feel than the IPad. The device comes equipped with the Tegra 2 processor which gives it speed and power when running graphically intense applications.
HoneyComb itself is a great looking operating system. It has five home screens that can be customized with various widgets, contacts, links, apps, etc. Anyone familiar with past Android OS’s will feel right at home. Unfortunately, though, HoneyComb has a very “unfinished” feel to it. I received “force quit” pop-ups in many applications, including the stock browser, at least once per session of use. The stock browser does however use tabs across the top, something the IPad has been sorely lacking. The browser is very snappy and responsive, but I was forced to download a third party browser to use because of a bug Google seemed to have missed. Many sites I visited in the stock browser were redirected to the mobile version, but mobile sites are unnecessary for a tablet of this size and caliber. I immediately figured out how to change the user agent of the browser (essentially telling sites to always render the desktop version of their content.). Here is where the bug showed up. As soon as I closed the browser, the user agent would lose the settings and revert back to telling sites “I’m a mobile device”. Extremely frustrating!
As many would expect, the email experience was unrivaled by any other device I have used. The gmail/mail application uses a two pane-reading format; emails listed on the left pane, and the content rendered on the right, similar to that of the IPad. The interface is extremely clean and intuitive to use. The email clients also are accompanied by interactive scrollable widgets that can be added to the home screens for a real-time look at your inbox. Flawless!
I began to feel like I was done exploring the stock OS applications and ready to see what the Android Market Place had to offer. I was greeted with only 16 HoneyComb specific apps. As I did more research I found a handful of additional applications that were simply not categorized correctly in the market place. Needless to say, the experience of it was dismal. In addition, many apps that I clicked to download and install simply wouldn’t install, unless I closed the Market place, re-opened, and retried. I ended up downloading a handful of legacy apps (mobile versions) and the results were hit or miss. For instance, the facebook app that comes with a widget for the home screen would immediately crash when the widget was invoked. However, the Pandora app seemed to work quite well, despite having a lot of white space in the UI because it was designed for a much smaller screen. Mostly you will feel unfulfilled when browsing the market place with HoneyComb, until developers really start to embrace this new Operating System.
Overall, I liked the tablet and HoneyComb. But I really wish that the device and OS had not been shoved out the door incomplete just to be released in front of the IPad 2 announcement. Many features that you would expect to exist are simply missing. When I first purchased this device for an outlandish 800 dollars, the device lacked Flash support, SD Card support, and 4G support. Now does that sound like a polished device ready for the wild?