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Motorola Xoom: to buy or not to buy?

JR Raphael | Feb. 23, 2011
To buy or not to buy? That's the question right now as the Motorola Xoom, Google's first Android Honeycomb tablet, gets ready to make its grand debut.

Motorola Xoom: If you aren't sure whether you want Android or iPad...

...wait. Apple's (AAPL) iPad 2 could debut next week, according to a report published by All Things Digital on Tuesday. The iPad 2 is expected to be similar to the original iPad but with a thinner profile, an improved display, a front-facing camera, and a faster processor.

Provided that the iPad 2's hardware is in the same ballpark as the Xoom's, the biggest differentiator may ultimately come down to software: Any iPad is going to run Apple's iOS, which provides a drastically different experience than the Xoom's Android operating system. Which is better is largely a matter of personal preference: On the one hand, the iPad's OS is generally simpler than Android; on the other hand, that also means it's far less customizable. By their nature, too, Apple's mobile products are significantly more restrictive than their Android counterparts. Some people think that's a good thing; others can't stand it. If you aren't sure how you feel, head over to a Best Buy or Verizon store this week and spend some time playing around with an iPad and with a Xoom. Odds are, you'll figure out which platform you prefer pretty quickly.

Motorola Xoom: About that whole Flash thing...

While we're on the subject of iOS vs. Android, there's one final point worth mentioning: A minor uproar has spread around the Web this week over the fact that the Xoom will launch without Adobe (ADBE) Flash support -- one of the tablet's key selling points, particularly compared to Apple's famously Flash-free approach.

According to Adobe, a software update will enable Flash for the Xoom "within a few weeks" of the tablet's launch. Provided that this timing holds true, the delay -- while still mildly annoying -- is probably not a huge deal for most consumers. If the presence of Flash is a key part of what attracted you to the Xoom, you could always wait a few weeks to make sure the update arrives as promised. Otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it too much; the Flash support will certainly make its way to the tablet soon, even if it isn't there on day 1.


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