Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One Week with a Motorola Xoom Review

Just like any new device that fits in your hands, it takes time to get acquainted with it.  There is some heft to the Xoom due to the weight of the battery I figure, but it is not enough to cause any fatigue while seated (with or without a table to rest it upon).

I do wish they would implement a handle into the body of the tablet, yes it would make it bigger but easier to move around ( I am imagining the orange Speak and Spell- for those of you old enough to remember it) .  Most popular tablet devices are really too big to fit in a pocket or carry like a book.

Since I do not yet have a case for the Xoom I have been using my padded laptop sleeve to transport the device from home to work.  Leaving my laptop at home and replacing it with the Xoom has lightened my bag considerably, which is a plus.

Can you replace a Laptop with a Tablet?

Yes and no, would be the answer I would give.  Production is a challenge with handheld devices and while I am aware of the younger crowd's ability to whip out long text messages with on-screen keyboards, you probably are not going to want to compose any long text documents or emails with any handheld device or tablet unless you are carrying a keyboard around with you.

There is a Motorola Bluetooth keyboard that retails for about $60.  I am thinking this might be a good purchase for traveling, but then again you would have to buy some sort of stand for it so you could see what you are typing.  Before you know it your Xoom or iPad bag would start feeling like you had a laptop in there, which would cause you to ponder why you bought it in the first place. Obviously, some of these basic computing issues are still being worked out and will hopefully be remedied by apps. 

What I would like to see is some sort of Google Speech to Text App a la a Dragon Speaking product, but cheaper and better.  Content consumption is really what the Xoom and other tablets are made for, popular websites and social networking sites look good on the Xoom and are easy to use. 

I prefer the Dolphin Browser (avail in the Marketplace for free) to the pre-installed Google Chrome browser.  The Chrome seemed to take longer to load and my inputted text seemed delayed since the Google search results were trying to catch up.  Dolphin also allows the user to manually select which flash videos on websites you want to play, which leads to pages loading faster and the shutting down of some flash advertisements.  Overall the Dolphin Browser is great and has that barebones simplicity that you want from a web browser.

Xoom Apps or,What's Available in the Android Marketplace

It is cool but hard to navigate.

The Android Marketplace is a great place for developers to release and showcase Android Apps and there are some real gems in there, there are some rough ones too.  That being said, the Android Marketplace is frustrating place to navigate and many of the apps are really made for small Android phones not 10" screened Xooms.  While most of the apps I have tried worked well, many of them seemed really stretched out on the Xoom.

A really awful thing about the Android Marketplace is the navigational tools afforded to the user.  Performing a search will generate thousands of results, which you will have to scroll through manually.  Let's say you select one app to see what it is all about (which takes you off the results page).  You see the app page and decide it is not for you and decide to go back one page to the results page. Well, the Android Marketplace will then default you to the top of the results page, forcing you to scroll all the way down to where you left off.  As the number of apps grows in the Android Marketplace, someone must overhaul the user interface, or create an app for navigating it.  As you would expect, Apple's iTunes is out front in the app arena with a really nice user experience with only a couple different sizes of devices for developers to focus on- plus they have been at it for a much longer time. 

What I Like About the Xoom So Far

So far, I like the Xoom for all the things the Apple iPad can't do.  I am primarily talking about the freedom to interact with other hardware or devices, and they do not have to be Android, made by Google, or performed with Apple accessories.  A work colleague called me over to his office today and showed me the Xoom hooked up to a 40" LCD via a micro hdmi cable.  We went through Youtube videos, Angry Birds, some apps, and even tried to log-in to his Netflix account via the browser (which didn't work, and we didn't spend any time trying to make it work- I am sure there is a way).  The Xoom looked great on a big HDTV and the best part was it was connected with a $7.99 cable purchased on Amazon, Radio Shack charges $29.99 for the same thing by the way (avoid Radio Shack at all costs).

The nice thing is that the Android Marketplace and the Android platform are growing, and I think that most buyers realized this before they purchased the Xoom.  The Xoom already has a lot of opportunity for owners and developers alike to tinker and see what the thing can really do. 

New work phones are being ordered around here for those that have had their phones for over 2 years and a colleague called me and asked which device they should buy.  She already had an iPad at home, so I told her to go for the Android phone.  Why not go for the best of both worlds?  Explore what both platforms have for offer.  Both Apple and Android have a lot of good things going for them and I am thankful that they are competing in this market, which ultimately will push mobile technology further and give us the best experience and tools possible.

Read the Ice Cream Sandwich for Xoom Update!

*Information contained within these pages do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Schreiner University

1 comment:

  1. I have used an Apple iPad before. There are certain disadvantages with the iPad (and other handheld devices): they do not fully support a developer's need. You can't create an HTML file and store it on the iPad (unless there's an app for it on the App Store).

    But other than that, I think that tablets can be useful. I have never used anything Android before, but I have used an iPad (and played some of the full version of Angry Birds).

    Speaking of Google Chrome, I wrote a review on it. You can see it at