Motorola Droid Xyboard 8.2 review: Motorola Droid Xyboard 8.2

Hardware features
The Droid Xyboard 8.2 comes packed with all the formerly impressive tablet hardware goodies we now take for granted. These include an 8.2-inch IPS capacitive touch screen running at 1,280x800-pixel resolution, a 1.2GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 32MB of flash memory storage, with a 16GB version available as well. The gyroscope, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR, and 802.11 b/g/n network adapter round out the hardware highlights.

Navigating Honeycomb on the Xyboard felt responsive, with apps launching quickly. However, having been spoiled by the Asus Transformer Prime's much smoother swiping transitions, I couldn't help but be disappointed by the "framey-ness" apparent here when swiping through app pages. While the transition takes place just as quickly, it's simply not as smooth. When attempting to open the Gallery and the movie player, I also experienced some frequent hangs and long pauses that I had to reboot the tablet to alleviate.

When surfing the Web, swiping through pages was just as quick; however, after a site loaded, scrolling quickly down a page produced severe visible clipping. During Web surfing, the CPU, in an attempt to not waste time drawing content no one can see, will only draw the assets on the screen. Anything not currently on the screen will be drawn when you scroll to it. Unfortunately, if you scroll too quickly you'll see assets being drawn in as the tablet attempts to keep up with your scrolling speed. This is common across many Honeycomb tablets.

Also, while the Xyboard's IPS screen provided very high brightness and wide viewing angles, its color vibrancy can't match the beauty of the Galaxy Tab 8.9's PLS-based screen.

Tested spec Motorola Droid Xyboard 8.2 Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 Pandigital SuperNova Archos 80 G9
Maximum brightness 469 cd/m2 372 cd/m2 146 cd/m2 220 cd/m2
Default brightness 255 cd/m2 181 cd/m2 101 cd/m2 93 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.34 cd/m2 0.38 cd/m2 0.18 cd/m2 0.48 cd/m2
Default black level 0.19 cd/m2 0.15 cd/m2 0.12 cd/m2 0.16 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 1,379:1 1,206:1 811:1 581:1
Contrast ratio (max brightness) 1,342:1 979:1 841:1 458:1

Riptide GP, a jet ski game available from the Android Market, is great for comparing tablet GPU performance. Unlike Shadowgun, which seems to cap its frame rate, Riptide actually scales, and depending on the speed of the processor running it, the game's frame rate will be noticeably smoother or choppier.

However, in our tests, even though the Xyboard has a slightly faster 1.2GHz OMAP 4430 while the Tab 8.9 has a 1GHz Tegra 2, there wasn't a noticeable difference in frame rate. Though not "low," the frame rate didn't begin to approach the high levels of the game running on the iPad 2 or Transformer Prime.

We did notice that the Tab 8.9's accelerometer offered much more precise control when playing than the Xyboard's 8.2's.

The Xyboard's 5-megapixel rear camera took detailed still photos that compared favorably with similar shots taken with the Tab 8.9's 3-megapixel camera. The Xyboard's photos were sharp and clear, with good color reproduction. Shutter speed was fairly quick as well.

The Xyboard's captured 720p video was smooth with more accurate color than I got from the Tab 8.9, which tended to oversaturate the movie with an abundance of red.

Verizon's LTE network 4G speeds were impressively fast; I downloaded a 19MB app in 22 seconds, while the same file took 16 seconds on Wi-Fi. Even with the tablet idle and 4G off, the battery seemed to drain a lot faster than for a typical tablet with 4G on.

Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.

Video battery life (in hours)
Motorola Droid Xyboard 8.2 5.3

There are plenty of choices for tablet shoppers today. The lower-end 7-inchers like the Kindle Fire and Nook tablet offer pretty controlled Android experiences but top out at $250. The iPad 2 and Transformer Prime offer a premium tablet experience that starts at $500.

Verizon offers the Xyboard 8.2 starting at $430, but that's only if you sign up for a two-year contract. Off contract, expect prices to start at $600, and that's for the 16GB version. It's extremely difficult for us to recommend such a deal when better choices exist. The Transformer Prime for $500 gets you 32GB of storage and a faster, quad-core CPU, in a much more thoughtfully designed package.

However, if you're willing to pay for 4G speeds on a tablet, they are definitely fast here. Still, with technology advancing as quickly as it is, do you really want to get roped into a two-year contract in a still-nascent market?

The Motorola Droid Xyboard 8.2 isn't a bad product in itself, but the pricing structure makes it impossible for us to recommend. There are better options out there, with more coming soon.

Editors' note: This review was updated to give the correct processor information for the Motorola Droid Xyboard 8.2 and to add comparative tables.

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