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Motorola Xoom review roundup: the critics weigh-in

Jared Newman | Feb. 28, 2011
Motorola's Xoom tablet is the first true challenger to Apple's iPad, in that it runs an operating system designed for tablets -- Android 3.0, or Honeycomb -- and is comparably-sized with a 10.1-inch display. And after months of hype, it's finally available at Verizon Wireless stores and ready to be


One of the Xoom's main perks over the iPad (for now) is its 5-megapixel front-facing camera and 2-megapixel rear-facing camera.

Engadget's Joshua Topolsky praised the quality of the photos and Honeycomb's picture-taking interface, but felt that the device's size is "completely impractical in most situations."

On the other hand, Wired's Michael Calore and Dylan Tweney noted that "being able to compose a photo while looking at something bigger than a 5×7 print is a real luxury, as it lets you see details you wouldn't otherwise notice on a small phone screen or camera viewfinder."

As for the front-facing camera, GigaOM's Tofel said it's not on par with Apple's Facetime. "Video wasn't as crisp, and there were occasional audio hiccups," he wrote. "And when I rotated the device to portrait mode, my image didn't appear correctly to my caller."


The screen seems to be a low point among some critics, marred by excess glare. "I expected better: If the Barnes & Noble NookColor could nail the screen and glare issue on its $250 e-reader tablet, why couldn't Motorola overcome glare on its $800 flagship device?" Perenson wrote for PCWorld.

At Time magazine, McCracken wasn't impressed with the display quality either. "I found videos, photos and other graphics to be blockier, blurrier, and/or duller than on the iPad and the Galaxy Tab," he wrote.


Engadget's testing clocked the battery in at 8 hours and 20 minutes. That's an hour and 13 minutes less than the iPad, but more than any other tablet on the market. "We could easily see maximizing this if you're in airplane mode with a slightly lower brightness setting," Topolsky wrote.


Third-party app support is going to be hit-or miss until developers start writing software specifically for Android Honeycomb. Time's Harry McCracken had trouble with Facebook and Twitter, and said that other apps "tend to wind up with vast amounts of unused screen space, as if they were wearing an XXL user interface when they'd really fit into a Small." PCWorld's Perenson noted that there's no way to tell from the Android Market which apps have been optimized for Honeycomb.


Motorola and Google (GOOG) come out of the gate with an impressive, but flawed product. In addition to the drawbacks noted by reviewers, and the steep $800 price tag, the Xoom is missing Flash support, 4G service and MicroSD storage -- all of which will be added later. So it's no surprise that there's a wait-and-see attitude among reviewers.


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