As if being one of the rare ones in Malaysia to have an iPad 2 wasn’t enough, yesterday our boss just brought back another unique, never seen before device to the office. Some might even say that it will make us “zoom” past the iPad 2 for it, and this is no bold claim, it is named as such. It’s the Motorola XOOM!
The truth is working in Terato Tech, we have our hands on many of the top of the line gadgets. If we weren’t working on apps, we are probably an editorial team working 24/7 on gadget reviews, pretty much like a malaysian “engadget”. (We do have an editorial team working on Aiyo tho!)
That said, being spoiled by the many Apple products we own in house, the XOOM’s packaging is just a tad disappointing when compared to the iPad’s package. The XOOM’s box feels like boxes that were made to accomodate toys. If it were any more colorful, one would have mistaken it to be fresh off Toy’s R Us shelves. But who are we to judge, after all, the device that is packed inside is the main attraction.
I was confused for the first time when handling the device, because I wasn’t able to find the power button to switch on the device. I was told later that the button was located at the back of the device, close to where the camera lens was. Sure enough, the button switched on the device. That for me, is a big failure in design. Many devices these days spot a power button on the top of the device, prominently placed and highlighted with a chrome look. Nothing wrong with that, and didn’t need to be changed in any way. That should be the first thing they will need to switch back to, if there is ever going to be a XOOM 2.
However, getting to the software side of the XOOM, there are some good things about it. If there is something we haven’t known about android, it would be this. The device spots an entirely new android OS, known as Honeycomb. It’s interface is completely revamped to fully utilize the larger screen of a tablet. It has a futuristic look to it, we love it! Panning the screen left and right has a 3D feel to it. Many of the Google’s default apps on Honeycomb looks very stylish, which inherits the style of the photos app first shown in the Nexus One.
We also like the notifications that appears at the bottom right side of the screen, it is informative, provides us quick access to controls like backlight and sound, and it keeps us updated on what’s happening in the background. The browser on the XOOM also feels a lot like Google Chrome, which is a good thing. The good mixture of the simplicity of a smartphone OS and some of the neat things that exists on a desktop OS is what make honeycomb shines. But we would appreciate at least a hardware button for the home button. Right now it only exists permanently at the bottom rung of the touch screen, which is frankly quite cramped and uncalled for.
Hardware wise, while it is a dual core tablet, the tablets still feels sluggish sometimes. Compared to the iPad 2, the iPad 2 was buttery smooth, while the XOOM struggles to even go through our photo album. We realized this is the first release of honeycomb, and performance might be better once it is updated. The movie studio app does not feel as smooth and featured as iMovie on iPad 2, but it is a worthy contender, and props for it being bundled. Gaming is a breeze on the XOOM, but Ninjump has some issues with screen orientation on the XOOM. Cameras sucks on both iPad 2 and XOOM.
We look forward to reviewing the XOOM further. Honeycomb seems like a worthy contender in the tablet space!