Motorola Xoom: My thoughts and review on the device

So I have had my Motorola Xoom for a while now and decided to share my thoughts on it thus far. As with any review the bias will be my own, based on how I use the device, your mileage may vary. This will be a simple good vs. bad list.

Good:

Battery life: Battery life on the Xoom is amazing. I’m not a true “power user” but I do use my device a lot. It gets put through the paces. I received my Xoom on Friday 2/25 @ 11am; it arrived with 85% charge on the battery. I used it for several hours on end, then several times throughout the rest of the day until about 10pm. Installing apps, synching Email, and contacts, playing a couple of games (including downloading all the data files for dungeon defenders HD). When I plugged the beast in the for the night (about 10-10:30) it still had 40% battery left. I used it as my primary computing device on Saturday, composing emails, tweeting, facebooking, RDPing to my server, viewing office documents, etc. I unplugged it at 5:45am and used it all day (again until about 10pm) and when I plugged it in that evening it still had about 30%battery life.  To me that is amazing.

Charge time: It takes roughly 1.5 hours to go from 30% to 100% for charging times on the included charging adapter. Not too shabby considering the run time you can get out of the battery.

Screen size: 10ish inches to me, is the perfect size for a tablet device. I find that 7” screens are a bit too small for true usefulness as a business device. The screen resolution is 1280×800 which surprisingly is easy on the eyes. I am able to open office docs and view them with ease. The included Quick Office HD makes for easy reading and editing of documents, and on a 10” screen so much more effective than on the 4.3” screen on my phone.

Connectivity: Being an early adopter, I have the 3G version of the Xoom, I opted to buy a 1GB prepaid data plan just to play with it. It turns out the Xoom is pretty darned intelligent about when to use the 3G. I added my Google account to the Xoom, and since I use the restore feature for my Droid X it restored all my Wi-Fi connectivity information to the Xoom. Yep that’s right I didn’t have to re-enter any of my Hotspot info, thanks to good ole Google. The Xoom defaults to Wi-Fi when you are in range of a remembered hotspot. You read that right, it defaults to Wi-Fi when it can use a in range hot spot. That is awesome. So it automatically saves your 3G data for the last resort connection, that is great. The Wi-Fi radio is dual band as well picking up both my 2.4 and my 5 Ghz hotspots with ease.

Performance: performance is great, as you would expect. The tegra processor is a beast, and Honeycomb is designed to exploit multi core processors. This makes for a smooth, lag free experience. Nothing more really needs to be said about it, other than : you will not be disappointed by the processor in this device.

Overall Size/Weight: The Xoom is almost the same size and weight of the iPad, which makes it a winner in terms of size. It has a relatively small bezel area and plenty of screen real estate. The weight of 1.1 pounds gives it a good feel, without being overly burdensome. The device has a great study feel to it, with very little flex. It appears to have the same gorilla glass that the Droid X has, which is a plus. I could carry this with me all day long and barely notice it among my other notepads, and paperwork.

Portability: The size and weight of the Xoom lend it to be ultra portable. It feels like carrying a notepad. You know those old school things with paper and sheets… Yeah it’s a bit heavier than a traditional notepad, but not by much. It would slide into a briefcase, backpack, or purse with no effort at all. That being said, being ultraportable does not mean flimsy. This device is solid.  “Gorilla” Glass on the front & a metal casing make it very rigid. It has a decent amount of heft (1.5 pounds approximately) which also makes it feel very solid and sturdy when you’re holding it.

RAM: 1GB, more memory is always better than less, and the Xoom has plenty of RAM to spare, 1GB of memory in a device like this gives it the ability to handle multiple open applications/files with ease. I installed a memory manager just to see how much memory I had available at any given moment, and it turns out that with everything open that I use I still had about 300MB of memory available at any given time.

Video performance: Videos play smoothly, and look great on the Xoom. I saw no lag or stuttering while watching HD video. I watched both local and streaming video on the Xoom and both types looked great. This device is not lacking on the video performance area at all.

Unlockable: The Bootloader is unlockable, now if you’re an average user this means nothing to you, but if you’re a tinkering type, this is awesome news. It means you can get custom ROMS and root access with relative ease. Just know that unlocking the bootloader will instantly void your warranty. So be sure you want to do it.

Bad:

No SMS: Yep no SMS capabilities. Which was a bummer for me, I would have loved to have had the ability to text from this device. I’m not sure if it’s because the phone functions are not present in Honeycomb, or some other restriction that is in place, but hopefully some resourceful developers will get this remedied.

No Gvoice: You can’t install it from the market, and if you restore it from a backup it will just force close over and over, so no Gvoice for SMS either, again hopefully this will be a problem that is fixable in the near future, though as a work around you can always access the web version which works just fine from the Xoom.

Glossy screen: Yeah Glossy screens are overrated. I would have preferred to have a matte screen on this puppy or at the very least a less glossy screen. Glossy screens look pretty but cause lots of glare in a lot of different lighting conditions. The color saturation is great on the Xoom, but having to adjust the device to various angles to avoid glare can be a pain in the behind. Fortunately the device is small enough that this issue isn’t a complete tragedy.

Price: one word: OUCH. Yeah I paid full price so as not to have a contract, and it’s a steep price indeed. With taxes, delivery, a one month prepaid data plan and a couple of accessories (screen protectors, and the portfolio case) the total out the door for me was $900. Which I would never had paid, if it wasn’t a work expense. We are looking at getting a few of these for trade shows and presentations on the go, so the device for me is a legitimate piece of research. I think if the off contract price was about $600 this device would sell like hotcakes, because it is an awesome piece of equipment. The WiFi only version has been officially announced at $599 If you don’t need 3g/4g connectivity, that is your winner.

No Charging via USB: Yeah you read that right, the USB port does not allow you to charge the device, instead you have to use the proprietary charging port, which means yet another wall wart, and car adapter, this is a failure on Motorola’s part in my opinion. I get it, the beast needs more power than a USB port provides, how about the ability to trickle charge it via the USB port, sure it may take me 8-10 hours instead of 2 to fully charge it, but you know, I’d like to have the option at least.  Having to have yet another set of chargers is not a good thing for mobile professionals.

No SD card access (yet): As of right now thje micro SD card slot is not usable. I know it’s just a matter of time before it is useable, and having 32GB of onboard storage should be enough for a while, but I feel like the device is somewhat neutered by the fact that I can’t access the SD slot yet. I know it will be accessible in the future (it says so on the SD card dummy in the device) but this should have been addressed before releasing it in my opinion.

No Flash (yet): Like the SD card this is a fail in my opinion. Again, I know it’s coming soon, but it should have been included at launch. While it’s not a huge deal, it’s a pain in the butt, seeing as lots of sites employee flash.

So over all I can say I would recommend the Xoom. I feel the “goods” outweigh the “bads”. The device could be a great companion device to have at the office, on the road or at home. Will it completely replace your computer? Not likely, unless you are a really light user, will it be better than a laptop on a plane, or even on the couch, it sure could be. I used it as my primary surfing device over the last weekend and it worked great. I can say that if all your activities are encompassed by checking email, surfing the web, and social network updates, this device could be your daily driver. If I had to assign a numerical value on a scale of 10,  I’d give it a 8.75. When the SD Slot and Flash Issues get resolved it will be above a 9.

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