The first real competitor to the Apple iPad has arrived. It's called the Xoom (pronounced ZOOM), and it is a very capable device that was developed by Motorola and has mobile connectivity through Verizon. 

The Motorola Xoom is a tablet PC that is similar to the iPad, but has some significant differences. The first thing you will notice is that it is thicker and heavier than the iPad 2, which is not a good thing. However, it is a wide screen that is perfect for viewing videos and it handles Flash videos, which the iPad cannot display.

I really like the Xoom. Like the iPad, you can use to surf the Web, play games, read books, and much much more. Like all new devices, it has its pluses and minuses. Like the iPad you can purchase it with or without cellular connectivity. If you purchase the Verizon model you can use it anywhere that cell service is available. If you purchase the Wi-Fi only version, you will need to be near an open Wireless network to get connectivity. However, you will still be able to do things like playing games and reading books even if you are not near a Wi-Fi hot spot.

Here's My Bottom Line:

The exciting part of this tablet is that it is the first Android tablet running Android 3.0 which is optimized for tablets. This new operating system has some excellent features and, except for the browser, is pretty easy to use. Motorola has put together a sturdy tablet that is definitely a contender in the tablet marketplace. The dual-processor, wide screen, good cameras, and additional equipment like the HDMI port, put this tablet ahead of the iPad. The hardware is excellent except for the fact that the tablet itself is a bit heavy and tiresome to hold.

For newbies, the iPad operating system is still easier to use.  But if you are an Android user and love the Android operating system, you will like this tablet OS better than Apple's. It is more customizable and one might even say -- more fun.

The biggest drawback also comes from the fact that it is the first tablet running Android 3.0. There are simply not very many Apps that have been optimized for the Android tablets. Newspapers, magazines, and children's games that are optimized and available for the iPad, have not yet been made available for the Android tablets. Android tablets can only succeed if the Google Marketplace is seeded with Apps that have been optimized for the tablet and if they can keep their prices lower than Apple.

Which brings us to the Xoom pricing. When compared to the iPad 2, the Xoom seems to be more expensive, even if that is not necessarily true.

The 32 GB version of the Xoom with WiFi only is exactly the same price as the iPad 2 at USD 599. However, Apple also offers a 16 GB version for USD499, which allows people to get into the tablet world through Apple at USD 100 less.

The 32 GB version of the iPad on Verizon is USD 729 while the 32 GB Xoom is USD 799. Again, there is a cheaper 16 GB iPad available for less at USD 629, but no 16 GB version of the Xoom.

You can, however, purchase the 32 GB version of the Xoom with a Verizon 2-year contract for USD 599 but that monthly fee really adds up.

Also, if you purchase the Verizon Xoom without the contract and decide that you only want to turn on the cellular service occasionally, you will pay Verizon a USD 35 activation fee every time you want to turn the cellular service on again. That fee is waived for the iPad, so you can turn the service on and off without additional fees other than the cellular service.

The Xoom is a really useful, well-implemented tablet, but if Motorola wants to sell Xooms, they will have to be competitive in every way with the iPad, and right now, they are not.

The Good:

  • Good screen and aspect ratioFast dual-core processor
  • Excellent email interface
  • Android 3.0
  • Navigation buttons on the screen
  • Good battery life
  • HDMI port
  • 4 G upgradeable
  • Flash
  • Good dual cameras

The Bad:

  • Heavy
  • Poorly placed speakers
  • Poorly placed on/off switch
  • Lack of Apps optimized for Android 3.0
  • Battery not user replaceable
  • Pricey

You can read my full review with pictures at Hardware Secrets.