I recently bought the wifi version of the Motorola Xoom. I did not get the 3G version to keep costs down (no second carrier subscription in addition to smartphone I own). Here’s my review, let it be noted I’ve been an iOS user since version 2 (iPhone 3G) and although I have used devices from Android 1.6 and up - I’ve never ‘lived’ with them.

Motorola Xoom Tablet
Motorola Xoom

Aesthetics & Design

First of all the design is very well executed. It looks and feels like a premium tablet should (should that be iPad competitor?). The ports are a clear winner and still are over any other tablet. I haven’t got the video dock yet, but I ampositiveit’ll be a great addition to my big HDTV. The only gripe really is that it doesn’t charge through usb, which I believe is because it has two batteries. It charges through supplied plug insanely fast! It lasts all day and then some with heavy use also. I haven’t left the thing alone long enough to test the standby time, but I am sure it’s good also. The 10.1” screen feels like the ‘right’ size for a tablet and I’ll besurprisedif more tablets don’t end up adopting a screen size closer to the Xoom’s. The heft is a bit much, I would like it to be a small bit lighter - but nearly all tablets with proper glass screens will be heavy.

Android 3 - Honeycomb!

Honeycomb is wonderfully designed and feels just like the Xoom - premium. I am a user of Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and now Android, so I never find the perfect experience anywhere and love bits of each. There are a few things iOS has me trained to expect, which I haven’t gotten in Android. One of my biggest frustrations at the moment is a lack of background video - iOS has this down and then some. The other is the really nice design of applications - one can’t hide the fact most Android apps feel less premium. Having said that the tablet market is still young, and I just found a beautifully designed purpose-built Honeycomb podcasting client - BeyondPod (an example of following Honeycomb layout).

Honeycomb is as has been described in the multiple review sites I consulted - tron-like in feeling. It’s got that cool unhealthy blue glow that looks a bit futuristic. It’s still buggy around the edges and mostsurprisingly this affects the Google applications more, some are still being updated (Gmail, Reader). Like the iPad but better is the ability to either zoom or stretch applications made for the phone for the big screen. This made many 3rd party apps run flawlessly - most noticeably all the games with their custom user interfaces looked just as good if not better!

App Store vs. Market

I’ll spill the beans here: I started looking for apps I already knew from my iPhone on the Xoom. Surprisingly, I found the vast majority of them. Apple’s App Store exclusives are getting rarer it seems. Overall my feel is this: App store has better quality apps, all useful apps are pretty much paid (bar top shelf free ones - Dropbox, Twitter etc). Android Market has mostly free for anything you need (at a lesser quality) BUT the top quality apps (like BeyondPod) are more expensive. My gut tells me App Store will cost you more over time, while the Android Market prices make you question if you really need the app (for really good apps).

Conclusion

Overall a fantastic device. I would buy it now that the price has come down if: You don’t mind upgrading again in a year or two (iPad the same), use and like Android and think you would like the option to mess with the device by developing/rooting. It’s great hardware and because it’s Google certified it’ll follow all the releases of Honeycomb which is sure to get more exciting as competition to the iPad heats up.

Overall 8/10