Motorola Xoom vs Apple iPad

The Motorola Xoom is here with all its Android 3.0 Honeycomb fun and, yes, it looks sexy. That’s right, we said sexy. If you want an idea of just how sexy we think it is, then take a look at Rik’s sexy hands all over it. Of course, now that we’ve established just how the Xoom’s sex appeal, there’s one other sexy mystery we need to solve - does that make it the sexiest tablet of all? Is it as sexy, say, as the Apple iPad?

Sexy question. So without further ado, here’s what happened when we spread apart their sexy spec sheets to discover which was the one we’d most like to get with. Motorola Xoom vs Apple iPad...

Dimensions

1st: Motorola Xoom
249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9mm, 730g

2nd: Apple iPad
242.8 x 189.7 x 13.4mm, 680g/730g


It’s a good start on the form factor for the Motorola Xoom. Despite the larger screen, it’s actually a slightly smaller and thinner device than 2010’s beauty, the Apple iPad. Interestingly though, the weight of the two is exactly the same unless you’re happy to lose the mobile broadband network. If that’s the case, you can pick up a Wi-Fi-only iPad with just 680g of excess to carry around. So, definitely a win to the Xoom here but with, internet tablets, you do expect there to be a little bulk involved. These are not pocket devices.

Display

1st: Motorola Xoom
10.1-inch, 1280 x 800px, LCD

2nd: Apple iPad
9.7-inch, 1024 x 768, LED-backlit IPS LCD


Again, there’s not a lot in it but, until Apple update the iPad so it's got the same levels of Retina resolution as the iPhone 4, then it’s going to be a fairly straight fight based on pixels and screen real-estate. Both tablets use LCD technology but the fact that you’ve got more of it to play with on the Xoom puts it ahead. What’s more, it’s a true widescreen 16:9 HD screen rather than the slightly awkward 1:1.33 apsect that comes on the iPad. There’s no information on brightness levels or any other deeper screen technology on the Xoom but, as it stands, it’s got it over Apple.

Engine Room

1st: Motorola Xoom
NVIDIA Tegra 2, 1GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB RAM

2nd: Apple iPad
Cortex A8 1.0GHz CPU, PowerVR SGX535, 256MB


There’s a considerable benefit of being the newer model when it comes to the engine room given the pace at which chip technology bowls on. The iPad’s the better part of a year old and the single core A4 system on a chip just doesnt’ have the grunt of the cutting edge Tegra 2 platform and its HD performance power. There’s also the small matter of three quarters of a gig of RAM to think about as well. Now, it’s always a slightly a false economy when you’re dealing with a hardware/software integration as efficient as Apple’s but, all the same, it’s just too one sided in this case not to hand the category, once again, over to the Xoom.

Storage

Tie: Apple iPad
16, 32 or 64GB

Tie: Motorola Xoom
32GB + SD*


It’s little personal when it comes to storage. Do you want a massive chunk of on-board flash or would you prefer the limitless expandability of removable SD with the issue that you have to remember what you’ve got on which cards? While the Xoom’s SD port won’t function until a software update arrives, it does offer quite a bit in both departments. At the same time, you can currently max out on the iPad a lot higher. That will cost you the top model, of course. So we’re going to have to call this one a tie in the medium term. At the end of the day, if you’ve got a problem with storage on either, it might be time to do a little virtual spring cleaning.

Battery

Tie: Apple iPad
Up to 10 hour video playback

Tie: Motorola Xoom
Up to 10 hour video playback


Ten hours of video is a lot to sit and watch in one go. That’ll get you pretty much from Las Vegas to Gatwick once you factor in the meal times, take off and landing and the annoying period where the cabin crew ask you not to have headphones in. Not worth arguing. Just nod and put them back when they’re not watching. Anyway, both these device have the same battery life, so don’t look here for a reason to buy one over the other.

Software

1st: Apple iPad
iOS 4.2

2nd: Motorola Xoom
Android 3.0


It’s a little unfair to judge this one given that Android 3.0, Honeycomb doesn’t appear to be quite finished just yet. Indeed, no one has been allowed to touch the Xoom with the software not being the final version. All the same, we’ve a pretty good idea what to expect and Google’s tablet-only offering looks very good. The trouble is that, in iOS 4.2, the Xoom has come up against an adversary that’s tried and tested in this department. Not only is the platform that little more mature but there are more apps in the App Store that are ready and waiting in HD tablet size than there are in the Android Market. Playing Angry birds in a small fraction of a 10.1-inch display just isn’t fun.

Connectivity

1st: Motorola Xoom
3/4G, Wi-Fi, USB and more

2nd: Apple iPad
3G and Wi-Fi


The first flush of Motorola Xoom tablets - all of which will be exclusive to US carrier Verizon for now - will only have 3G capability but the 4G LTE updates will come in Q2 2011. While we’re not really going to quibble to hard about the iPad having no 4G support, where the Apple tablet really falls down in this area are things like missing USB ports and video-outs that only support 480p resolution. There’s no such issues with the Xoom which has a microUSB, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and just about any other way to get content on and off and to whatever kind of device you’re after. Sure, the Apple-ites could argue about simplicity but, in the end, as gadget lovers, it’s always flexibility that’s prerferred.

Imaging

1st: Motorola Xoom
5MP rear, 2MP front, 720p video

2nd: Apple iPad
Um...


This is all about shooting fish in a barrel and Motorola goes at it with a shotgun. To Apple’s brash “nothing”, the Xoom boasts a 5-megapixel rear facing camera with dual LED flash and 720p video capture as well as a 2-megapixel rear facing piece of glass for all the Google Talk video calling action. Pretty clear on whose is the party to go to.

Features & Usability

Tie: Apple iPad

Tie: Motorola Xoom


By all rights, the iPad should lose this category but it’s got the Skyfire app to thank for it. Skyfire transcodes Flash on internet pages into HTML 5 specially for the iPad. Now, it’s not perfect and a browser that supported Adobe Flash like that in Android would be far, far better, but it will do. Aside that massive missing breast plate in the iPad’s armour, there’s plenty to shout about. We all know how slick and wonderful it and many Apple products are to use and there’s plenty of other features of iOS 4.2 to get excited about. There’s AirPlay and AirPrint, there’s the Games Center for online match up fun and there’s all of those proper sized apps to enjoy.

That said, the Xoom has got lots going for it as well. You can play HD content on other devices straight off it, it has got a Flash supporting browser, you can turn it into your own Wi-Fi hotspot and HD should actually be rather impressive on it. There’s also access to the world’s largest book service with Google eBooks, tabbed browsing and one of the best Gmail applications around. What’s more, according to our hands on with the thing, that touchscreen is also fan-stinking-tastic in a way that Android tablet so far just haven’t been.

Price

1st: Apple iPad
£429-£699

2nd: Motorola Xoom
Unknown


We don’t know what the price of the Xoom is going to be yet, neither in the UK nor the States. However, what we do know is that with the mobile broadband data use, there’s going to be a contract involved and that can get expensive. There is no Wi-Fi only version that you can buy and be done with and, quite strangely, Apple has so far proved to have been remarkably reasonable with its iPad pricing. So, for those reasons, we’re sure enough to call this one in favour of Jobs Inc.

Conclusions

Winner: Xoom

Loser: iPad


This is a very, very close run thing and we’re doing our best to ignore everything we’ve just written about in order to say which of these tablets is truly top dog. Both have got really good screens with perhaps the slight edge to the Xoom because of aspect issues. The iPad is sorely lacking in imaging and Flash support but it is such a pleasure to use. What’s more, the Xoom is going to cost and the burden of another contract in this day and age is a real drag. All the same, though, when you think about it, the only reason you could give someone for opting for the iPad, the only real one, is if they just love Apple. If you own an iPhone and/or a Mac, then you’ve got to pick the iPad but otherwise you’ve nothing to fear from going Motorola Xoom Android in the tablet space - except an emptier wallet.

 

CES 2011 is now in full-swing, be sure to check out our dedicated CES homepage for all of the news as it breaks, as well as detailed analysis.



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