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1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

The original Motorola Xoom is the closest device to an actual Nexus Tablet. Being a Google experience device it’s backed by Google but manufactured by Motorola and is the first product to run Google’s tablet specific Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS. This also means that it comes with Honeycomb in its original form (Lacking any customizations) and in theory should be one of the first devices to receive updates. Motorola has now released its successor, calling it the Xoom 2 and promising something that’s not only lighter, faster, thinner, but also far from a Google experience device with lots of custom Motorola software. Can the Xoom 2 go against the likes of the Samsung Tab 10.1 or the Asus Eee Pad Transfomer Prime? And perhaps an even more interesting question: Is a lighter, faster, thinner Xoom 2 with more features and Motorola customizations a sure win when compared to the original Google experience Xoom? The answer just might surprise you.

Specifications

Motorola XOOM 2 Motorola XOOM 2 Media Edition
Processor 1.2GHz dual-core processor 1.2GHz dual-core processor
Software Android 3.2 Honeycomb Android 3.2 Honeycomb
Display 10.1” HD display with Corning® Gorilla® Glass 8.2” HD display with Corning® Gorilla® Glass
Special features Splash-guard and special flattened edges for easier holding Display optimisation for wide viewing angles that are perfect for video
Camera 1.3 MP front and 5 MP rear-facing HD cameras with digital zoom, auto focus, and LED flash 1.3 MP front and 5 MP rear-facing HD cameras with digital zoom, auto focus, and LED flash
Memory 1GB RAM; 16 GB storage 1GB RAM; 16GB storage
Battery life 10+ hours Web usage or over 1 month stand-by 6+ hrs Web usage and more than 3 days of music playback
Sound 3D virtual surround sound Adaptive virtual surround sound with multiple speakers and booming bass
Dimensions 253.9 mm x 173.6 mm x 8.8 mm 139 mm x 216 mm x 8.99 mm
Weight 599 g 386 g
Enterprise features Business Ready with enterprise-grade security and Active Sync for work email, contacts and calendar. USB and Ethernet connectivity, pre-loaded Citrix® Receiver® and Citrix® GoToMeeting®. Preloaded with MotoCast so you can access and stream your files from your PC or Mac to your tablet Preloaded with MotoCast so you can access and stream your files from your PC or Mac to your tablet
Preloaded applications Access to Google Mobile™ Services, including Google Maps™ with Navigation, Google Talk™ and browsing

The Motorola Xoom 2

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

The Xoom 2 (10.1”) and the Xoom 2 Media Edition (8.2”) are the successors to the original Xoom, the first Android 3.0 Honeycomb based tablet. In the US, the Xoom 2 is available as the Xyboard 10.1 and 8.2 (WiFi only) and there’s a Verizon exclusive 4G LTE model called the Droid Xyboard 10.1 or 8.2. Our review will be based on the European Xoom 2 (10.1” version) which so far only comes as a Wi-Fi model. Unlike the original tablet, the Xoom 2 is sadly not a Google experience device and as a result is splashed with a decent amount of Motorola’s own customisations, which in some cases is a good thing. On the other hand this does mean that you won’t be getting updates as quickly as is expected from the first Xoom or Nexus devices, but rather you’ll be relying on Motorola which in many cases tend to take a very leisurely pace when it comes to updates.

Compared to the original Xoom, the Xoom 2 is 10% lighter, 33% thinner and has a much brighter IPS display with a wider 178 degree viewing angle. There are some nifty extras thrown in like an IR port, splashguard coating and an interesting new feature called Intelligent Grip Suppression technology that really make the Xoom 2 standout in a crowded space of look-alike Android tablets. The Splashguard coating for example protects the Xoom 2 from liquids and Motorola even went as far as to apply extra protection to the electrical board! This doesn’t mean the Xoom 2 can be fully submerged in water like the Pantech Element, but it sure does offer a bit more protection against the elements. Considering how vulnerable electronics are to water, you’d expect such a feature to be common among the plethora of tablets available, but strangely Pantech and Motorola are the only manufacturers that are offering something like this. The Intelligent Grip Suppression technology basically allows you to hold the tablet in one hand with your fingers or thumb on the screen and use your other hand to navigate or use gestures like you normally would. The Xoom 2 will completely ignore the other hand as it intelligently detects that one hand is simply used to hold the tablet. Rounding of the list of improvements, the battery now offers a larger capacity at 7000mAh instead the original Xoom’s two 3,250mAh cells totaling 6500mAh.

The Xoom 2 strangely loses the microSD slot, which is a huge step back, while the front camera is now 1.3 Megapixel instead of the previous 2. Motorola is touting the Xoom 2 as having the ”fastest multi-tasking in its class” with “a 20 percent improvement in graphics performance over the original Motorola XOOM.” This added speed comes thanks to the use of the dual-core 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4430 SoC with its PowerVR SGX540 graphics chip running at 304 MHz.

The addition of the Xoom 2 Media Edition and the specs comparison above (provided by Motorola) imply some exclusive media centric features specifically reserved for the Media Edition, but that’s not the case. In fact, other than the obvious difference in size and battery life (7000mAh or 10 hours vs 3900mAh or 6 hours), the key difference is the lack of the Floating Notes app on the Xoom 2 Media Edition and the ability to work with all the features of the Motorola Active Stylus. The Floating Notes app is a note taking application that’s always present in the notification area and can sit on top of other app, allowing to you to draw or take notes. The app is designed to get the most out of the Active Stylus, meaning that it will work with the Media Edition, but it won’t get the most out of it due to the lack of the software. It’s still a mystery to me why the Floating apps is missing on the smaller tablet, especially considering how every aspect in the software is the same. I simply can’t think of a single reason why the Media Edition couldn’t support this software.

Hardware & Design

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

The Xoom 2 looks unmistakably Motorola. It shares the same design DNA found on their other products and takes many design cues from their smartphone. One can even say that it kind of looks like an oversized DROID RAZR. Everything from the clearly defined edges that make it look like it’s in a rubber case, it’s rugged looking design, the use of a two-tone color scheme, “sectionalized” design instead one of smooth body and the now characteristic cut-off edges are all there. Missing is the DROID RAZR’s Kevlar back, but it’s replaced with an equally sturdy metal back. When seen from the front and especially from the back, the Xoom 2 looks like a rugged products designed to withstand drops, but obviously it’s not. If there ever was an Android tablet version of Panasonic’s Toughbook, it would probably look like the Xoom 2. This also gives the tablet the impression of being extremely thick, when in fact it’s the complete opposite. It might not be the thinnest in the tablet world at 8.8mm, but falls well within the standards for a modern tablet. By comparison the Tab 10.1 is 8.6mm thick, the Transformer Prime is 8.3mm and the new IPad comes in at 9.4 mm. Props have to be given to the Motorola design team as they’ve managed to not only make it splash-proof, all while at the same time keeping it extremely thin. In the mobile world svelte designs and weather or splash-proofing are combinations that rarely attempted.

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

On the front side the Xoom 2 uses a typical-for-Android 16:9 aspect ratio for its 1280×800 10.1” screen. The use of Gorilla glass, (although not the newer version 2) means that screen protectors simply aren’t necessary and should protect it against scratches. The 1280×800 resolution is more than enough for a current gen tablet making for crisp text and graphics, but for its follow-up Motorola should at least consider using 1920×1080. One aspect that stands out are the chopped corners that make it instantly recognizable as a Xoom 2. According to Motorola ”the edges have been strategically designed to make the tablet more comfortable to hold,” but in my opinion it doesn’t make any difference since you hold the Xoom 2 in the middle and rarely near the edges. In the end these edges are less about function and serve a more important role when it comes to the aesthetics in creating a look that’s instantly recognizable as Motorola. I like as it adds a twist to the usual square design.

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

On the front we also find the front-facing camera , with the Motorola logo to left of it, while on the right side there’s a hidden notification light. When this light is off there’s simply no way of telling it’s even there, even in broad day light. The inclusion of this light is a huge plus and one of those features that many tablet and smartphone makers tend to forget. It flashes Green for notifications and Red for low battery. There doesn’t seem to be any way to control the notification light, missing are basic features such as a way to at least turn it off or control the time-out.

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

The back is a of mix of hard plastics and a rubbery plastic, but a large sheet of metal dominates here. As expected the Motorola logo is placed right in the middle of the metal back. They did a smart move here by using a rubber material near the left and right edges, specifically where the user is expected to hold the tablet. This makes the Xoom 2 not only very comfortable to hold, but also less likely to slip out of your hand and avoids that uncomfortably cold metal feeling you get with other tablets. The rubbery material flows all around the edges and meets up with the screen, where it creates the illusion of the entire tablet being in some kind of a rubber case. It’s also this very same material that makes the splash proofing possible.

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

The upper section continues the same metal look, but is actually a hard plastic and houses the camera and the two speakers. These speakers deserve some special attention. My experiences with the speaker on tablets has been quite underwhelming. The ones on the Xoom 2 are actually very good, lacking any of that tiny sound found on other tablets. They’re loud and even add tiny bit of what you can call mid-bass that creates a much richer experience than you’d normally expect from such a thin device. Don’t get me wrong, external speakers are still the way to go, but these are probably one of the best built-in tablet speakers on the market. The camera is a 5 megapixel shooter with 720 HD video recording. As expected the camera lens itself sits behind a piece of clear plastic, but if the plastic is scratched it will have a negative on the pictures and video. To alleviate this, the plastic itself is slightly recessed to lessen these chances. In all honesty I really don’t get why tablet makers even bother to add these high resolution camera on the back of tablets. When was the last time you took a picture with your tablet? In fact, other than the first time I tried the camera I rarely use it. What I do use a lot is the front camera. In my opinion they should simply cut costs when it comes to the back camera and focus on making the quality of the front camera better, especially in low-light conditions.

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

On the right side there are just two buttons: the power/lock/unlock button and volume rocker. The power button sits too close to the volume up button, which in many leads to pressing the wrong button. To prevent this I find myself feeling my way to the right button, which all could have been prevented by adding more space between the two buttons. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it does prevent you from quickly raise the volume or lock/unlock the screen.

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

On the bottom side we have a microUSB and the microHDMI port. Unlike the first Xoom, the Xoom 2 is able to charge via microUSB. There’s also a cover where the SD and SIM card slot would have been placed, but since both of these were omitted there isn’t anything behind the cover. In my opinion this is the biggest problem with the Xoom 2. With just 16GB of onboard storage I simply can’t understand why they didn’t include a microSD slot. If you’re planning on using the Xoom 2 for apps, as a reader and streaming media, 16GB should be more than enough. However if you’re planning to put your entire music and video collection on the device, you’ll quickly learn that 16GB simply isn’t enough. Motorola mentions their Motocast, a piece of software that wirelessly streams media from your PC to the Xoom 2 as the solution. The problem is that this requires your PC to be constantly on and have access to the internet. On the other side, this also requires the Xoom 2 to have constant access to the net, at least when you want to use Motocast. Considering the fact that the Xoom 2 lacks 3G/4G connectivity , you’re limited to Wi-Fi which also limits the places where you’ll be able to use Motocast. Bottom line: Motocast is a useful piece of software, but definitely not a replacement for the tried and true microSD. There’s simply no excuse in leaving the microSD slot out. Those that require lots of storage will simply have to look elsewhere. Motorola should seriously consider adding microSD on their future tablets.

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

Software

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

The Xoom 2 is not a Google experience device and as a result runs a slightly modified version of the Android Honeycomb OS, specifically version 3.2.2 . And unlike the original Xoom, updates aren’t regulated by Google, but by Motorola which are sadly known for their extremely leisurely pace when it comes to updates. Companies like Asus with their Transformer Prime and ironically the Xoom made by Motorola were one of the first devices among tablets to receive the Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). Asus has clearly shown that it is possible to quickly to get ICS out the door, even if you don’t run vanilla ICS. Xoom 2 owner on the other hand will have to wait until the summer to get their serving of Google’s latest software. According to Motorola the update is under development and hopes to release it in Q3. That means you can expect it anywhere from June through September and that’s assuming they manage to get it ready by Q3. That’s too much of a wait and unacceptable for a new device. In fact the Xoom 2 should have been released with ICS or at least it should have gotten it shortly after its release.

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

Delayed OS upgrades are almost always the result of modifications to the original OS, which many manufacturer defend as a way to differentiate. In the case of the Xoom 2, some of these modifications are simply not necessary and in my opinion only serve as a way to slow down updates. Manufacturers like Motorola should simply avoid these changes for one simple reason: the closer the OS is to the original Google build, the quicker they’re able release updates. The more changes you make the more you’ll need to shoehorn into the next OS upgraded and the longer it will take for updates to reach owners. This is an area where the original Xoom is way ahead of its successor. If you value quickly getting the latest updates, the original Xoom can’t be beat. Even non-Google experience devices such as the Transformer Prime are getting updates at an impressive pace. This is an area where Motorola has a lot of work to do to catch up.

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

The Xoom 2 starts up with a pulsating Red Motorola logo and after a very long wait you’re greeted by the familiar and unmodified Android lock screen. A quick stroll around reveals that Motorola has resisted the temptation to make very heavy changes to the OS like the HTC Jetstream, but there are changes to be found. These include: a modified Motorola analog clock widget, weather and clock widget, Motorola wallpapers in addition to the Honeycomb wallpapers, extra preloaded apps like Citrix, Dijit, Evernote, Fuze Meeting, GoToMeeting, QuickOffice, Skitch, Twonky, Evernote, Floating Notes and MotoCast. Under settings added a special audio effect sections for Equalizer and 3D surround effects.

Some of these apps and additions are extremely useful and welcome. Take for example the QuickOffice HD software which by itself costs about $20 and is included for free with the Xoom 2, baked right into the ROM. The weather widget is handy and combines both clock and weather in one widget, it’s unobtrusive and can simply be removed from your home screen. Some additions are a must-have and tie in with certain hardware features such as the universal remote control software by Dijit. The Xoom 2 has an IR Blaster and in combination with this software you get a customizable universal remote control software with TV channel listings and show guide. The button layout is fully customizable and the whole system works with multiple setups. It all works amazing well. Twonky is another UPnP, Airplay and DLNA app that works as advertised, but I do have to wonder why they didn’t bundle all of this functionality in Motocast. That way it would have been your one-stop place for Media streaming and sharing.

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

Special attention has to be given to the Motocast software. I typically don’t like pre-loaded software developed by the manufacturer themselves, but Motocast has to be one of few exceptions. It gives you direct IP connectivity to your computer at home, allowing you to browse and access content via the tablet. This means you can access your files from another country or simply from your couch, provided you have network access. Setup was quite easy and does require you to connect your Xoom 2 to your PC via USB for the one-time install. Oddly they didn’t think of including something as basic as a USB cable. Once the software is up and running (on both the PC and on the Xoom 2) it worked flawlessly, allowing me to stream high resolution video files without any problems. Performance was top-notch and the software even allows you to resume where you left of when watching videos. It did take a few seconds to display my Music folder which admittedly had several Gigabytes of music and more than 10.000 files. Folders with less files open up instantly. I was able to browse all my files on my PC and even other types of files on the Xoom 2, such as Word documents. It will pretty much open and display any files the Xoom 2 is capable of displaying, otherwise it will simply display a question mark and to download the file to the tablet. I wasn’t expecting much from Motocast, but I must admitted that it impressed with its fast and reliable performance.

I’m sadly less enthusiastic about some of these other apps and services, specifically the more enterprise and business oriented software. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with them, in fact it’s a very strong selection of very useful enterprise and business software, but only if you use them. The problem is that unlike QuickOffice which is included for free, software like Citrix, Fuze Meeting and GoToMeeting require some sort of subscription to use these services and will probably be useful for only a small group of Xoom 2 owners. And unless you do use these, they’ll be sitting there in the app drawer unused taking precious space without any way to uninstall them. Yes, you read that right: there’s absolutely no way to uninstall the pre-installed apps. The same can be said for other non-business software like Skitch. There’s no reason why it’s there and was only included since it’s made by the folks behind Evernote which does play and important role within the software bundle. Just like the other software there simply no way to uninstall Skitch.

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

The standard Evernote application is bundled with the Xoom 2 and plays a role when it comes to their Floating Notes application. The Floating Notes always sits near the notification area with no way of completely closing it and allows you to draw or create quick notes. I’m usually not a fan that remain open (with no way of closing it), but this one actually turned out to be pretty handy. It can sit on top of other apps and can be moved around. The idea is that you’ll open the app above a page or document and create notes or drawing based on what you’re seeing as the Note app doesn’t obstruct your view of the app below. It sort of gives you a quasi-Windows-esque Snap functionality, with the single limitation of being unable to do anything “below” the note until you close. Strangely there’s no special tie-in with Evernote. The Note app includes an Evernote icon and allows you to upload notes to the service, but this uploading can be done from many other apps. It almost feel like Evernote was glued on the very last minutes as part of the bundle.

Motorola has opted to create custom icons for almost every single Google application. This can lead to some confusion in the beginning, but I quickly got accustomed to this. If you’re not a Motorola user, be prepared from some guess-work. Motorola isn’t known for the most clear and best-looking icon set, the ones on the Xoom 2 are no exception. I understand the need to keep a uniform look among their various devices and the need to differentiate from the other manufacturers, but here’s another way to differentiate: How about keeping the stock Android look and feel? So far Samsung, HTC, Asus and Sony have all made some changes to the look and feel of ICS or Honeycomb. Here’s something new Motorola, how about keeping the stock Android look? That’s definitely one way of differentiating and one that I know many users would appreciate!

In the end it all comes to down opinion as to what apps are useful and that’s exactly why Motorola should only include the standard Android application with a vanilla version of the OS. A single application that allows you to optionally download and install the features and application you require should replace the current bundle. I simply don’t need some of the included apps and what’s even worse is that there’s no way of uninstalling them. Even if you reset the Xoom, they’ll be the first to show up as they’re all baked into the ROM. The changes to the default Android icons is also unnecessary and only serves to create confusion. After reading the above, one would think that I dislike the software side on the Xoom 2, but that’s not the case. It’s overall very stable, fast and it all works flawless with some useful additions. I just think that Motorola went overboard by having the bundled software baked right into the ROM. A great deal of the included app are useful for me, but shouldn’t necessarily be so for another user. Forcing it on the user without the ability to uninstall makes it even worse. It’s especially due to these changes Xoom 2 owners will have to wait and wait for before they can enjoy ICS. Motorola should clean up and simplify, but keep all of this software, but as optional add-ons. The original Xoom should serve as a direction where to go next.

Daily Use & Performance

The original Xoom uses the dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 running at 1 GHz with an Ultra-Low Power GeForce running at 333 MHz. In almost all cases, the OMAP 4 used on the Xoom 2 should beat or at least equal the Tegra 2. But what you do gain with the Tegra is game compatibility. Nvidia made sure that certain game titles remain Tegra exclusives, meaning that if you don’t have a Tegra SoC, you won’t be able to even download these games. I’m talking about the THD (Tegra HD games) which also have this “THD” in their title. Many of these titles are released in non-THD versions, but often these THD titles have some extra graphic eye-candy, such is the case with Riptide GP. It’s not that the PowerVR SGX540 can’t handle them, it definitely can, in some cases even better than the Tegra 2. It’s just that Nvidia struck deals with developers to artificially lock some of these games and make them Tegra only. To make it even worse, Tegra games usually are high quality games and not having access to them is a big con if you plan on using your tablet for gaming. Motorola’s decision to not go with Tegra 3 is understandable. When the Xoom 2 was introduced, Tegra 3 prices were high and to keep it within a certain price range they went the OMAP route. In my opinion they could have opted for the faster version of Tegra 2 that runs at 1.2Ghz and keep costs down. Motorola’s choice to go OMAP means a speedy performance, but owners will be locked out of the Tegra ecosystem which admittedly has some very good games. Motorola should consider going back to Tegra 3 or greater for their next tablet.

All is not lost with the lack of a Tegra SoC. Many THD games like Sprinkle, Shadowgun and Riptide GP are starting to become available to non-Tegra SoCs which can only mean good news for the Xoom 2 owners. Ironically some of these games are exactly like their THD version and run smoother on the Xoom 2 when compared to a Tegra 2 device. Certain games like Shadowgun and Riptide add some extra eye-candy like water droplets and cloth simulation for Tegra 3 devices, but most of these extras are almost unnoticeable and don’t add value to the game. Xoom 2 owners can breathe easily as most of these big titles are quickly becoming available for other devices. Having Tegra based tablet still means some added eye candy and the best game compatibility. Lesser demanding titles like Temple Run, Angry Birds, Cut The Roap and Draw run smoothly on the Xoom 2.

Startup takes, at least in terms of tablets, a long 55 seconds. I really don’t know why it takes so long to startup, especially when the specs are quite up-to-date and quite similar to what’s available on other tablets which are able to perform a quicker startup. Take for example the Tab 10.1, with its 1GB of RAM and Tegra SoC starts up in about 15 seconds. I rarely turn the Xoom 2 off, but when I do it can be a pain, especially for a device that’s expected to be instantly available.
Luckily when the tablet is fully booted, its performance is fast, making you forget about that slow startup. Tegra 2-based devices where known for the not-so-fast performance, lacking that smooth, fluid operation found on the iPad. The Xoom 2 seems to have solved this problem with the use of the OMAP 4. While Tegra-based tablets had a problem with even smoothly scrolling through the app drawer, the Xoom 2 zips through the various UI elements. Another problem area for the Tegra tablets was the android browser. The Xoom 2 shows how it’s done with an impressively smooth scrolling and just as easily zooms in and out of graphics with no checkerboard area that to be rendered. The same can be said about applications. These open quickly with the fluidity of iOS. Android indeed does require some extra hardware horsepower and in the case of the Xoom 2 there’s simply isn’t any perceptible lag when jumping in and out of applications. Remarkably it took Tegra three generation with the Tegra 3, to get the type of everyday performance found on the OMAP 4. If you need a no-nonsense tablet with speedy performance when it comes to everyday task, you simply can’t go wrong with the Xoom 2. When it comes to gaming, it’s still a good option, but devices such as the Transformer Prime are better, especially when it comes to the more demanding 3D titles.
According to Motorola, the Xoom 2 should last about 10 hours. My testing has shown that with heavy use it should last about 9+ and several days and in some cases even a week if you’re a casual user. When it comes to battery life, the Xoom 2 doesn’t break any records and is just shy of the magical 10 hour mark, but being able to do 9 hours of heavy use should more than plenty.

Camera

Back Camera Samples:

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review
1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review
1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review
The Xoom 2 doesn’t break any new grounds with its camera. It has a 5 megapixel auto-focus camera which generally should be more than enough for a tablet. But why would tablets need these high resolution back cameras, why do they even have back cameras in the first place? In fact, taking these samples shots for this review was one of two times I actually used the back camera. In my opinion this only adds cost and complexity when the focus should be on cutting costs. Of course, this isn’t Motorola’s fault since offering camera-less tablet in this crowded tablet would be almost suicidal. In a market where all premium tablets have back cameras, offering one without a camera give the impression of a “lesser” when consumer are doing their comparison. The focus should in fact be on the front camera which I know many people use a lot. The front it shouldn’t be higher than 2 megapixel, but it should offer great performance in less than ideal light conditions.

Front Camera Sample:

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

Since the Xoom 2 does have a camera, let’s talk about it a little bit. It’s capable of taking some great clear shots when there’s a lot of light, but as expected from almost all tablets out there, it falls short in low-light conditions with some noisy pictures. Overall, the results are just about average for a current gen tablet and should please most users out there. The colors are a bit off, lacking the real life tones and in some case exhibiting a greenish tone, but at least Motorola has resisted the temptation to go with highly saturated colors and aggressive edge enhancement. The end result are bit fuzzy upon very close inspection, the colors aren’t accurate, but generally the results are good.
                                                                                                                                                        
The Xoom 2 does impress with its speedy camera performance, capable of quickly focusing, taking a shot and almost instantly being ready for the next shot.
Another area where the Xoom 2 shines is in the video department. I was expecting average video quality, but the end result was impressive 720 HD video capture with neutral but accurate colors, good frame rates , overall impressive video quality and smooth motion. In the sample video above you can see how I do a sudden move to the right and then the left, yet the Xoom 2 managed to keep up with very stable and smooth results.
Conclusion

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

The Xoom 2 is a much improved version of the original version: 10% lighter, 33% thinner and has a much brighter IPS display with a wider 178 degree viewing angle. There are some nifty new extras thrown in like an IR port, splashguard coating and an interesting new feature called Intelligent Grip Suppression technology that really make the Xoom 2 standout in a crowded space of look-alike Android tablets.

USB charging is a welcome new addition, but why isn’t a USB cable included? Motorola does make it up with a charger with of one the longest cables I’ve ever seen!

The Xoom 2 also much faster thanks to the new dual-core 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4430 SoC with its PowerVR SGX540 graphics chip . In almost all cases, the OMAP 4 used on the Xoom 2 should beat or at least equal the Tegra 2 and in daily use I doubt you would notice the difference between it and the new Tegra 3, it’s smooth and super-fast. Startup however, is unusually slow. But what you do gain with the Tegra is game compatibility. When it comes to gaming, it’s still a good option, but devices such as the Transformer Prime are better, especially when it comes to the more demanding 3D titles.

1x1.trans Motorola Xoom 2 Review

The original Xoom had a microSD slot, the Xoom 2 strangely loses the microSD slot. In my opinion this is the biggest problem with the Xoom 2. With just 16GB of onboard storage I simply can’t understand why they didn’t include a microSD slot. If you’re planning on using the Xoom 2 for apps, as a reader and streaming media, 16GB should be more than enough. However if you’re planning to put your entire music and video collection on the device, you’ll quickly learn that 16GB simply isn’t enough.

The Xoom 2 is not a Google experience device and as a result runs a slightly modified version of the Android Honeycomb OS. In the case of the Xoom 2, some of these modifications are simply not necessary, can’t be uninstalled and in my opinion only serve as a way to slow down updates. Overall, the software side is good, stable and fast with a few gems like Motocast, free QuickOffice HD and Dijit for the IR port. If you value quickly getting the latest updates, the original Xoom can’t be beat. Motorola should clean up and simplify, but keep all of this software, but as optional add-ons. The original Xoom should serve as a direction where to go next.

In short: there is just one problem with the Xoom 2 and that’s the lack of microSD. I liked the software side of things, but Motorola should consider going the vanilla Android route. In that area, the original Xoom wins hands down. The Xoom 2 equals other tablets in every aspect, but adds unique features like an IR port, splashguard coating ,Intelligent Grip Suppression technology and good built-in speakers that could make it just the right tablet for some. The Xoom 2 scores and 7.9 out 10.

Pros

Speedy performance

Fairly close to stock Honeycomb

Splash proof

Sturdy yet thin design

Notification light

IR Blaster with Universal remote control software

QuickOffice HD (with editing) included for free

Motocast works beautifully as advertised

Charger cable is conveniently very long

Rubber material makes the Xoom 2 not only very comfortable to hold, but also less likely to slip.

Good battery life.

Good video capture quality

Loud and good sound through built-in speakers

Cons

Not compatible with Tegra games

No microSD support/Limited to 16GB

No Floating Notes on Media Edition

Slow to get updates/Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS).

Long startup time

 

One fantastic feature of the Motorola Xoom 2 is the upgrades in its browser. Not only does this make general use easier but it also greatly aids your ability to play online casino games. Gaming on a tablet not only offers you the freedom a mobile does, but offers a usability normally only matched by the PC, the larger screen allows you to see more of the game, and also makes it easier to see where your bets have been placed. Visit here to try for yourself. Whether roulette, blackjack or poker is your game the ease of use offered by a tablet is sure to change the way you game online.

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International Correspondent
Devin is a law student on the island of Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles and has been fascinated with technology from a very young age. Besides law he spends his time with computers, technology, gadgets, photography, writing, art, meteorology and astronomy. His photographs and artwork have won several contests in his native island of Curacao.

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