Being the first to market is usually a good idea. For Apple, it’s the primary reason that they’re the most valued brand on the planet today. Their iPad and iPad 2 tablets created an entire industry sector in consumer electronics and were largely unchallenged by any worthy competitors for the better part of a year. With the recent release of the new Motorola Xoom tab, all of that’s about to change. It was only a matter of time before the Android ecosystem yielded a worthy rival to the iPad, and the Xoom is going to make a lot of people think twice before buying from Apple.
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: the Xoom is seriously powerful, and versatile to boot. Featuring an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor clocked at 1.0 GHz backed up by 1 GB of RAM, the Xoom packs as much horsepower as any other tablet on the market. It’s got a 5 MP rear-facing camera, a 2 MP front-facing camera, on-board storage space ranging from 32 GB up to 64 GB via the microSD slot, and HDMI output, giving users the total package when it comes to extensibility for peripherals. The 10.1-inch multi-touch HD display offers a crystal-clear visual experience that matches the iPad in terms of picture quality and responsiveness.
Superb hardware aside, what makes the Motorola stand out is the superb operating system provided by Android in the form of their tablet-specific platform, Honeycomb. Originally released earlier this year with the 3.0 version, Verizon wasted no time in upgrading to 3.1 almost immediately after it came out. It supports Flash impeccably without murdering your battery (yes, Mr. Jobs, that’s possible), and allows users to resize widgets and import photos directly from their phones and cameras. It comes equipped with Google’s Movies application by default, allowing users to stream movies directly from the Android market. And it also features a quicker, more responsive browser that more closely emulates the desktop web browsing experience.
Bottom line: the Xoom will ultimately be the story of the year when it comes to tablet PCs. Much like the original Motorola Droid, the Xoom has “Instant Classic” written all over it due to its competent hardware, user-friendly and intuitive software, and its attractive pricing. The iPad is great, no question about that. But if you don’t particularly care for vendor lock-in and want more power for roughly the same amount of money, the Xoom is the tablet for you. Both the WiFi version and the two-year contract variant with 3G from Verizon make a great addition to your digital arsenal. When it comes to must-have gadgets for work and for play, the Xoom is a no-brainer.