Tablet wars heat up with Motorola Xoom release, iPad 2 announcement around the corner

By Will Sullivan on February 24, 2011 0 Comments Ideas

Will Sullivan, 2010-2011 Reynolds FellowWill Sullivan, 2010-2011 Fellow

This afternoon the media embargo on Motorola Xoom tablet reviews dropped in preparation for tomorrow’s opening of sales and every tech site worth their domain name had reviews. In general, reviews have been pretty positive and it sounds like this is actually a worthy iPad competitor.

One of the most interesting reviews I read came from Robert Scoble, a self-confessed iPad lover who owns three (yes, three!) iPads:

 

 

The common positive praise is:

  • Features are a step up and several people have called this the first official legit iPad competitor and the first tablet to beat the iPad in several areas
  • Interface is better resolution and better looking than the iPad
  • The OS is more intuitive, faster for multi-tasking and the best Android experience seen so far
  • Google integrated apps (Gmail, Talk, Calendar, Contacts, etc.) are substantially better than the versions on Apple iOS

The biggest complaints are:

  • Limited apps available currently for the new Android Honeycomb operating system (which will change over time, since this is the first Honeycomb tablet)
  • Some advertised features are still TBA — Flash and 4G coverage is supposed to be coming soon, just not yet.
  • Using a proprietary charging plug is a very “Apple-like” move. Come on Motorola.
  • Pricing is often debated if it’s worth the extra money compared to the iPad (the Xoom is generally around $100 more than iPads with similar features)

Walt Mossberg of All Thing D said:

Bottom line: The Xoom and Honeycomb are a promising pair that should give the iPad its stiffest competition. But price will be an obstacle, and Apple isn’t standing still.

Boy Genius Report says:

I’m not sure how much better an Android tablet can get right now — and this is the first one we’ve reviewed here at BGR. The Motorola XOOM packs a serious punch, and doesn’t have room to store an ice pack. I love that Motorola has been pushing forward with innovate ideas and concepts, most notably with the ATRIX 4G, and the XOOM isn’t an exception. It features great hardware, impressive specifications, and the latest Android OS designed just for tablets. There are many things to rave about with the XOOM, though there were some annoyances and frustrations that stemmed from Google’s OS for the most part and not from Motorola’s hardware.

Engadget perhaps had the most critical review:

Is the Xoom a real competitor to the iPad? Absolutely. In fact, it outclasses the iPad in many ways. Still, the end user experience isn’t nearly where it needs to be, and until Google paints its tablet strategy and software picture more clearly, we’d suggest a wait-and-see approach. Honeycomb and the Xoom are spectacular — unfortunately they’re a spectacular work in progress.

All this news comes at an interesting time, with Apple yesterday announcing it will be holding a media event on March 2, which many people have speculated will be announcing the iPad 2. Hopefully, Apple will bring some more innovation and help raise the bar again to keep Google and Motorola on their toes.

Long live competition!

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