Motorola Xoom review

Price when reviewed

All the pre-production Android 3 tablets we’ve seen have sported the Google Books app, but there was no sign of it on this review sample. When we attempted to install it from the Market, the tablet informed us it was “unavailable with this operator”. Presumably this is because the Google Book Store isn’t yet available in the UK.

That wouldn’t be a problem if a decent alternative were available, but we couldn’t find anything that worked really well with the Xoom’s large screen. It’s at this juncture that we hit one of the current limitations with Android 3: there just isn’t enough tablet-specific Android software yet.

Motorola Xoom

Although many of the smartphone apps we tried worked on the Xoom, most didn’t look very attractive. We also came across some that wouldn’t run stably, or at all. The standard Facebook Android app we downloaded kept crashing, Pool Master Pro exhibited odd graphical artifacts we hadn’t seen before, and the Aldiko eBook Reader fell over every time we tried to view books in portrait orientation.

This will change as more developers release HD versions of their apps, but it’ll probably take a few months before the number of good ones hits critical mass. And we think Android 3 also needs to improve the Market interface – it’s crying out for a means of sifting tablet-specific from smartphone apps.

Performance and battery life

Aside from the inevitable grumbles and gripes, after a few days of using the Xoom we came to like it very much. Subjectively, though, despite the dual-core architecture, the performance picture is mixed.

The 3D carousel animation you get when navigating between Honeycomb’s five desktop screens is smooth and responsive, and you’ll be skipping around from app to app, to the homepage and back with the sort of speed you’d hope for.

In our tests, the BBC homepage loaded in five seconds flat and the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark completed in two seconds. The iPad 2, for all its buttery smoothness, couldn’t gain scores any higher than this is so the raw power is clearly there.

Battery life, which has proved a problem for Android tablets in the past, is great too. Motorola claims the Xoom gives ten hours of Wi-Fi browsing, and we wouldn’t argue. In fact, the Xoom lasted 12hrs 49mins in our video test, which involves playing a low resolution podcast video on loop at around one-third screen brightness until the battery dies.

That’s a touch behind the first iPad (13hrs 44mins) and a long way behind the iPad 2’s result of 16hrs 49mins, but it’ll give you a good day or more of casual use, and that’s not to be sniffed at.

Unfortunately for the Xoom, it isn’t all good news. Rotate an iPad 2 from landscape to portrait and the desktop elements flow like quicksilver; do the same on the Xoom and they judder into their new positions. Launch the main app screen and there’s a hint of hesitation as it hoves into view.

While simple sites scroll by in a blur, complex web pages can feel laggy and unresponsive: panning and zooming around the BBC desktop homepage felt like wading through treacle. Not what you expect from a tablet with this much power on tap.

The screen looks fine, with more pixels and a wider aspect ratio than the iPad 2 making it (in theory) better suited to watching movies on the go. And, in isolation at least, it looks bright enough with vibrant colours, good contrast and even decent viewing angles.


Warranty 1 yr return to base


Dimensions 249 x 13 x 168mm (WDH)
Weight 730g


Primary keyboard On-screen
Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,280
Resolution screen vertical 800
Display type TFT
Panel technology TFT

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz 1,000MHz
Integrated memory 32.0GB
RAM capacity 1,000MB


Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
Focus type Autofocus
Built-in flash? yes
Built-in flash type Dual-LED
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes


WiFi standard 802.11n
Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes
Upstream USB ports 0
HDMI output? yes
Video/TV output? no


Mobile operating system Android 3

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