HP TouchPad vs Motorola Xoom

The hotly anticipated tablet from HP has finally been confirmed, in the shape of the HP TouchPad. And a new product on the horizon can only mean one thing - fight! This is where we whip out the spec sheets and pitch the new kid on the tablet block against its rivals to see which looks like the best bet.

We've already engaged the new TouchPad in a tense spec-off with Apple's iPad, so this time, it's the turn of the Motorola Xoom. If you're torn between the two, then you need to keep reading.

Dimensions

Winner: Xoom
249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9mm, 730g
Loser: HP TouchPad
240 x 190 x 13.7mm, 740g


The Motorola has managed to get the first punch in with its tidy dimensions, despite playing host to a larger screen. It may be 9cm longer than the slightly squarer TouchPad, but it's a far bit narrower and also sports a svelte 12.9mm profile, which gives it the edge over the TouchPad's 13.7mm depth. At 730g, it's also 10g lighter than the TouchPad. That might not seen like a lot to quibble over, but when it comes to portable devices it could just make that little bit of difference. Round one goes to Motorola.


Display

Winner: Xoom
10.1-inch, 1280 x 800px, LCD
Loser: HP TouchPad
9.7-inch, 1024 x 768, LCD


Sporting a whopping 10-inch display, the Xoom continues to lead this particular competition, as the TouchPad can only muster a 9.7 inches of screen. Both panels offer relatively high resolutions, which are fairly evenly pitched, pound-for-pound, in terms of pixel density. Both devices also offer the same LCD technology on their screens, including IPS which means good viewing angles. The Motorola also has the advantage of a true widescreen 16:9 HD display, rather than the oddly square aspect ratio offered by the TouchPad (no doubt, inspired by the screen dimensions of the iPad). It's close, but the Motorola edges it again.


Engine Room

Winner: Xoom
NVIDIA Tegra 2, 1GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB RAM
Loser: HP TouchPad
Qualcomm APQ8660, 512MB RAM


With many tablet devices, the CPUs involved tend to be very similar so there's not a lot that sets them apart. Both these devices up the ante somewhat with the Motorola Xoom featuring NVIDIA's Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz chipset and the HP TouchPad sporting a dual-core Scorpion CPU from Qualcomm. The latter is reportedly capable of offering 1.2GHz of processing power, which puts it slightly ahead of the chip found in the Xoom. However, the Motorola comes back fighting thanks to its RAM count, which at 1GB is more or less double the 512MB offered by the TouchPad, as well as a slightly superior GPU as well. So, despite the possible CPU advantage, it's another one to Motorola as it wins this category 2 to 1.


Storage

Tie: Motorola Xoom
32GB + SD
Tie: HP TouchPad
32GB or 64GB


HP's TouchPad is slightly unusual in the sense that it doesn't offer any expandable storage, one of the many things that it has in common with the iPad. It will be available in two versions, so you'll be able to choose from either 32 or 64GB flash memory-based devices. In contrast, the Xoom has only one storage configuration available - 32GB. However, it does have the distinct advantage of being upgradable by SD card, although this won't function until a software update arrives. That means that in the short term, the HP has the advantage with its 64GB capacity. Although the Xoom will eventually be able to offer more in this area, we think that it's only fair to call it a draw for now.


Battery

Tie: Motorola Xoom
Up to 10 hour video playback
Tie: HP TouchPad
8 hours video


This one's all in the wording - the TouchPad claims to offer equal to or more than 8 hours of video, while the Xoom gives you up to 10 hours. If previous experience is anything to go by, these two estimates will probably turn out to be pretty much the same thing - somewhere between the two. We can't test out the battery capacity properly when we get both devices in for in-depth reviews. However, we think for the timebeing, it's fair to declare this round a tie.

Software

Winner: HP Touchpad
webOS 3.0
Loser: Xoom
Android 3.0


Software is probably one of the trickiest areas to tackle in a spec-off because there are so many elements involved, and it often comes down to personal taste. From what we've seen of the TouchPad at HP's press conference, webOS 3.0 certainly looks impressive and offers a wide range of goodies including wireless printing, good app integration, the Synergy sycing system and a browser that supports Flash. Indeed, at this stage, it looks like it might even have the edge over the iPad's iOS.

When it comes to the Motorola tablet, we certainly wouldn't want to incur the wrath of the hordes of Android fans out there, so it seems a little unfair to judge an OS that isn't quite ready yet (all demos of the Xoom so far have shown a provisional version of the software). That said, although the tablet-only system looks pretty good so far, we think that it might struggle to live up to Apple's iOS, and in turn, HP's webOS 3.0. For now we're awarding HP the win on this front, but we're prepared to eat our words if Honeycomb stuns us when we get the Xoom in for a full review.

Apps

Winner: Xoom
Lots and lots
Loser: HP TouchPad
Not that many


Android is packed with apps these days. You can't get everything on every device giving a bit of a fragmentation problem but, at the end of the day, there's still over 100,00o to choose from and that's plenty. HP and the Palm OS is a different matter. Although there are apps available, the webOS has struggled with developer support in the past, so it will certainly be a challenge for it to garner enough apps to put it neck and neck with Android. Sure, there's plenty of homebrew options but it just doesn't compete in the face of more up to date software. For the timebeing, the Xoom has the advantage in this category.


Connectivity

Winner: HP TouchPad
Wi-Fi/4G/BT/mUSB/NFC
Loser: Xoom
3/4G, Wi-Fi, USB and more


There's not really much in it when it comes to connections, as all most of us are looking for is Wi-Fi and probably 3G as well. Both the HP and the Xoom are fairly evenly matched in this regard with both tablets offering the prerequisite wireless and 3G but the TouchPad also features NFC technology. This handy addition allows you to pass information between your tablet and a Palm phone (or Pre or whatever they're calling it now that the Palm prefix has been officially put to sleep). However, the first version of the TouchPad will be Wi-Fi only, so you'll have to wait until later in the year for mobile broadband.

While you'll be getting pretty much the same situation on the Xoom, and probably earlier too, Motorola loses out here with none of the NFC fun. It's a minor issue but these are gadgets and who doesn't like the nice toys they come with? 


Extras

Tie: Motorola Xoom
Tie: HP TouchPad


Both tablets in this battle have plenty of extra features to shout about, and it might well be these that influence your decision. The TouchPad has an ace up its sleeve in the form of Beats by Dr Dre which means that the audio is about as good as it can be from a tablet, and it's also got built-in speakers so that you can irritate people on the bus. You'll also find a flashy LED that lets you know when you've got any notifications along with Touchstone compatibility for wireless charging.

The Xoom has also got plenty of goodies in hand as well, not least the fact that you can turn it into your own Wi-Fi hotspot. It also offers access to the Google eBooks - the world's largest book service, as well as tabbed browsing and an excellent Gmail app. It also happens to have the best touchscreen to grace an Android tablet so far, which will be big news for fans of Google's OS who may well have been disappointed with the efforts so far.

Imaging

Winner: Xoom
5MP rear, 2MP front, 720p video
Loser: HP TouchPad
1.3MP front-facing webcam


While the Motorola Xoom has gone all out on the imaging front, cramming in as many features as possible, HP's TouchPad keeps things simple with a modest front-facing 1.3-megapixel webcam for voice calling. It's not terribly exciting, but it should prove to be a useful addidtion to the HP's existing specs. Meanwhile, the Xoom boasts a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with dual LED flash and 720p video capture, along with the a 2-megapixel front-facing cam for all your Google Talk needs. It's fairly clear who the winner is on this count.

Price

Tie: Motorola Xoom
Unknown
Tie: HP TouchPad
Unknown


Sadly, we don't have confirmed prices yet for either of the two devices, so it's hard to make a call on this one. What we do know is that data packages with mobile phone providers will push the price up, although that won't be an issue on the first version of the TouchPad, which will be Wi-Fi only. The Motorola won't be offered as a non-3G version so, in theory, you should be able to pick up one of the earlier TouchPads at a lower price. We'll give you more news as soon as we have it.


Conclusions

Although the two tablets are fairly evenly matched in some respects, in terms of specs, the Motorola comes out on top far more often in this comparison. Not only does it have a bigger screen, slimmer profile and more under the hood than the TouchPad, it also has a more impressive imaging setup and it also offers expandable memory.

All the same, if you're willing to wait until the summer, then the TouchPad certainly looks impressive. Unfortunately, the 3G-enabled model won't be available until later on in the year, so it's likely that another similarly specced tablet could come along in the meantime and spoil its chances. Also, you might find that you don't get the full benefit of the TouchPad unless you have a Palm/Pre handset.

If you've got a Palm phone, then it's likely that you'll be wanting to wait a while for the TouchPad. If you're after an Android device, then the Motorola is certainly the best-looking option on the horizon right now.

What do you think of the HP TouchPad? Could it be the tablet to knock the iPad off its perch?