Motorola Xoom review: Motorola Xoom

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent

Average User Rating

3.5 stars 16 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Wonderful fit and finish. 802.11n 5GHz support. Speakers are better than expected. Performance is reasonably nippy. Android Honeycomb is a pleasure to use.

The Bad More expensive than competitors. Screen doesn't have the vibrancy of some of its competitors. Volume buttons are difficult to press. Will not charge over USB. May be heavier than some are willing to accept.

The Bottom Line Thanks to a price drop and Android 3.1, the Xoom has had a little more life breathed into it, bringing it almost in line with competitors. It's nice enough and beautiful to hold, but we suspect that most will still go for cheaper Android tablets, or give in to the iPad 2 and never look back.

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At launch, the Xoom was unfinished — which was quite an effort, considering it was the launch device for Android 3.0 way back at CES in January.

Its microSD card slot didn't work, with the reason why never being detailed. At the time, we speculated that since Acer, Samsung and Asus all had working microSD card slots, and that XDA-Developers had hacked in support, it was due to some partner deal gone wrong.

Now it's all water under the bridge, as the Xoom is now running Android 3.1, enabling the microSD slot and host USB support along the way. It's also had a healthy price drop, from the unpalatable AU$840 down to the more sane AU$648, at least through Telstra. That's still significantly more expensive than the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, which retails at AU$599 without its dock. You can go cheaper, too, if you choose to dance with the likes of Acer and others. Still, the Xoom has a few luxury perks — it supports 5GHz Wi-Fi where many others will only do 2.4GHz, and it has a gorgeous aluminium backing.

While the outright cost has dropped, Telstra's bundled plans for the device remain unchanged:

Payment plan Plan cost Device cost Data included Contract period
Outright N/A AU$648 N/A None
Bundled AU$29/month AU$35/month
(-AU$10 if qualified for MRO bonus)
1GB 24 months
Bundled AU$49/month AU$35/month
(-AU$10 if qualified for MRO bonus)
7GB 24 months
Bundled AU$79/month AU$35/month
(-AU$20 if qualified for MRO bonus)
12GB 24 months

The 24-month lock-in is particularly unappealing, considering how quickly the market segment is travelling. Still, Telstra is undeniably the market leader in network coverage, so it may be worth it to those who want to stay connected as often as they can. Unlike in the US, there are no plans to upgrade the Xoom to LTE locally — we daresay that this may be a feature of the Xoom's successors, which are expected soon.

While Optus was meant to step in as an alternate supplier after June, it seems the flirtation was brief: its web page states the Xoom is no longer in stock.

Hardware

The device itself is amazingly solid, an excellent mashing of aluminium, glass and rubberised plastic that's easily on par with the iPad 2. It's 117 grams heavier, though, matching Acer's Iconia A500 at 730g; a weight that some may be uncomfortable with.

Thanks to its 1280x800, 16:10 aspect ratio screen, at first glance it's a more attractive form factor than Apple's 4:3 iPad 2 — slightly longer but not as bulky. This illusion soon dissipates as you look at the thinness, with Apple's game-changing device measuring in at 8.8mm compared to the Xoom's 12.9mm.

Xoom vs. iPad 2

The Xoom has quite a different form factor to the iPad: slightly longer, squished a little but quite a bit thicker.
(Credit: Motorola, Apple)

Buttons are kept to a minimum, with the power button on the back and volume buttons at the top left side. While the power button feels natural once you actually find it, the volume buttons are small and far too difficult to press.

The 1280x800 screen is attractive, but it definitely doesn't have the vibrancy of its competitors. There are two different screens floating around the US: one from Sharp and the other from AU Optronics. Ours seems to have come from the AU Optronics stock, and while it definitely isn't TN-based, it's not IPS, either. The lightening of screen colours and reduced contrast as you move off axis suggests a VA panel.

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Where to Buy

Motorola Xoom

Part Number: XOOM

Typical Price: $648.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Wireless Connectivity IEEE 802.11n
    Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
    IEEE 802.11b
    IEEE 802.11a
    IEEE 802.11g
  • Type Android 3.1 (Honeycomb)