Site-loading speed battle: Motorola Xoom vs. Apple iPad

Which tablet surfs the Web faster, the Xoom or the iPad? We tell you here.

Update: This post was updated on March 1, 2011 to reflect graphical options we previously overlooked in the Dungeon Defenders game. We'd previously stated that the iPad version of the game had more aliasing than the Xoom, but overlooked an option in the game to smooth out the graphics and have since updated the 3D graphics section. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused. Thank you.

The tablet wars will be in full swing in the next couple of weeks. Last week, we witnessed the opening salvo with the release of Motorola's Xoom. The Xoom is arguably the first legitimate competitor to the first-generation Apple iPad, so naturally we'd want to conduct as many tests directly comparing them as possible.

Testing
While we'll be running a number of Xoom and iPad tests over the next few weeks, we wanted to provide you with some quick, easy, but still useful tests right away. One of the simplest things to test is site-loading speed, a test many users can immediately relate to. I'm a much greater fan of real-world tests like this one, as opposed to synthetic benchmarks.

We used three different Web sites for the tests: CNET.com, CBSNews.com, and GiantBomb.com. Each tablet was connected to the same closed network with no other devices on it, with the router about 5 feet away. We considered the test to begin the moment we pressed Enter and run to the time the blue progress bar on each tablet disappeared. We used the latest version of iOS for the iPad, and the Xoom is, of course, using Honeycomb , or Android OS 3.0.

Although in the video you'll only see one iteration for each test, we actually ran each test several times; over those runs we got results consistent with what you'll see here. Also, we cleared each tablet's browser cache before each iteration of the tests was run.

Now, as much as we'd love for these tests to be completely relevant for everyone in every situation, that's nearly impossible. We tested these tablets under specific conditions in a "free" environment. The network was closed, but we can't account for noise from other networks interfering. This is a snapshot of performance in our testing environment, and because of that your results may vary.

Web site Motorola Xoom Apple iPad
CNET.com 4 seconds 15 seconds
CBSNews.com
27 seconds 29 seconds
GiantBomb.com
6 seconds 9 seconds

The video
You'll notice in the video that CBSNews.com hangs for both tablets. This was something we saw consistently over several runs. To ensure accuracy, we timed each tablet individually. You can even time it yourself using the video if you'd like to make sure.

3D graphics
We used Dungeon Defenders to test the performance of each tablet's 3D graphics. The Xoom has a native resolution of 1,280x800 pixels, while the iPad has a lower resolution of 1,024x768 pixels. At default settings we found the iPad version to have much more aliasing on the edges of the character models; however, each version of the game includes an option to upscale the graphics, smoothing out the look of the characters.

The real difference between the two versions came in the area of color richness. The iPad version has richer and deeper colors than the Xoom version, which looks washed out in comparison.

Tested specs

Specs Motorola Xoom Apple iPad
Maximum brightness 312 cd/m2 388 cd/m2
Default brightness 131 cd/m2 161 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.26 cd/m2 0.44 cd/m2
Default black level 0.11 cd/m2 0.18 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 1,190:1 894:1
Contrast ratio (max brightness) 1,200:1 881:1

Conclusion
Based on the results we got, with the aforementioned caveats, the Motorola Xoom will likely have faster Wi-Fi surfing speed than the iPad. While not all tests showed a huge difference, the Xoom was consistently the faster tablet.

With Dungeon Defenders, the Xoom's higher resolution didn't afford it much of an advantage over the iPad, and its washed-out color could be a problem for some.

We'll be posting more test results from this and (hopefully) other, as yet unreleased, tablets soon.

 

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