Motorola’s Xoom tablet, which is officially available Thursday, gives us the first glimpse of Android’s Honeycomb OS designed for tablets and reviewers say it’s a big improvement over earlier versions of Android. The Xoom is also fast and zippy but it’s quirky in some areas, leading some to conclude the product was rushed to market.
Complaints were the device crashed occasionally, said reviewers. The lack of Flash in the initial version was also disappointing, and although the device comes with an SD card slot—it’s not enabled.
Time Magazine says Honeycomb is easier to use than earlier Android versions. It removes the use of excess buttons. You can step back through apps by a control strip that’s always at the bottom of the screen. You still have menus, but they are at the top of the screen and a bit easier to use than on previous Android OS versions. You also get a “status panel,” that tracks incoming mail, downloads in progress, etc.
However, Time’s Harry McCracken says, “parts of Honeycomb do have a not-quite-finished quality. Both the browser and the photo viewer have crashed on me – one time apiece – and I’ve encountered a few odd freezes… Otherwise,” he says, “the tablet’s high-end innards delivered an experience at least as fluid as the iPad, even when I had a bunch of programs open.”
Engadget’s Joshua Topolsky concludes the Xoom is a true competitor to the iPad. “In fact, it outclasses the iPad in many ways. Still, the end user experience isn’t nearly where it needs to be… Honeycomb and the Xoom are spectacular — unfortunately they’re a spectacular work in progress.”
On the plus side, the Xoom’s performance is very brisk. “We were blown away by the robustness and speed of applications like the browser and some of the included games. The general responsiveness of the UI and touch reaction was in line with the best the iPad exhibits…” said Engadget.
Battery life is strong. Engadget got about 8.2 hours of use, which is better than other Android devices, and way better than some, but still less than the 9.3 hours you get on the iPad.
Still Engadget found the device still feels like it’s in beta. Some apps crashed, the volume button was hard to find and use. It “makes you wonder if this wasn’t rushed out to market in order to beat the next wave from Apple,” it concludes.
Digitimes, a Taiwanese journal, says that Best Buy’s first batch of preorders for the Xoom are completely booked, leading to optimism that sales will be brisk on the 10.1 inch device.
The Xoom ships with 3G capability but it will be upgraded to 4G in Q2 at no extra cost. It has dual cameras and will sell on Verizon at $600 with a 2-year contract or $800 off contract. It also sports a 1 GHz Tegra 2 processor, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 32GB of internal storage.