LG Optimus Pad vs Motorola Xoom

After a bit of a false start at CES 2011, the Android tablets are now out in force and each of them promising Google's exciting Honeycomb OS. With seemingly none of the manufacturers adding their own UIs on top of the software, the gadgets' hardware itself is becoming more and more important as the only differential when it comes to that buying decision. So, which Android tablet is the right one for you?

To help answer that we're putting two of the new kids on the block together in the shape of the LG Optimus Pad vs Motorola Xoom, and, while the on-screen experience might be similar, you just know that one of them is going to be more convenient than the other. You wouldn't want to invest in the wrong tablet now, would you? Of course, not. So read on and find out which one looks best on paper and why. 

 

Dimensions

1st: LG Optimus Pad
243 x 149 x 12.5mm

2nd: Motorola Xoom
249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9mm, 730g


BLG is currently at a loss for a pair of scales but by the looks of things, the company's Optimus Pad has got the edge over the Xoom as far as form factor goes. On the the slight niggles about the Motorola tablet is that it's a little on the chunky side and LG has managed to shave a few precious millimeters of the profile in all the departments. As a result, unless they've made all of the hardware out of lead, there's a very good chance that it's a lighter bundle too. So, round one to the LG Optimus Pad.

Display

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

2nd: LG Optimus Pad
8.9-inch, 1280 x 768px, LCD


There’s not an awful lot in it as far as the displays go and, with neither tablet maker giving huge boasts about its respective screen technologies, this category has come down to a simple case of which one is bigger. As you can see, that’s the Xoom and at the that particular pixel ratio it also benefits from a natural 16:9 aspect rather than the 15:9 that the LG Optimus Pad is forced into. Interestingly, despite being able to record in 3D, the only method of 3D playback on-tab that you can get from the Optimus Pad is in red green anaglyph. So basic is that technology that we almost feel inclined to mark LG down on pure insult alone.

Engine Room

Tie: LG Optimus Pad
NVIDIA Tegra 2, 1GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB

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


As seems to be the trend for Android tablets in this day and age, both come packed with the Nvidia Tegra 2 system on a chip platform. Within the set up comes the benefit of dual core CPUs clocked at a maximum of 1GHz which should provide both devices with losts of multitasking abilities and HD graphics fun as well. Yes, it’s a little dull to have a tie in this category but when they’ve tied on the best engine room out there, one shouldn’t really complain.

Imaging

1st: LG Optimus Pad
5MP rear, 2MP front, 1080p video, 3D

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


Again, a 5MP rear camera complete with AF and LED flash combined with a 2MP front facing webcam seems pretty much standard at the moment as far as tablets go. However, LG has gone above and beyond with the Optimus Tab by doubling up on the rear camera to bring 720p 3D video recording capabilities along with 1080p footage if you’re happy to keep things 2D which still manages to trump the specs of the Motorola Xoom. A definite winner here for LG whether you’re into 3D or not.

Storage

1st: Motorola Xoom
32GB + SD

2nd: LG Optimus Pad
32GB


Bit of a surprise but it seems that there’s no expandable storage port on the LG Optimus Pad in either SD or microSD form. Instead, you’re stuck with a decent sized 32GB of flash storage. Of course, the problem is that capturing all that 1080p footage is going to take up a lot of space and quickly too, so the Xoom is going to feel much roomier even before you take into account the fact that you can double it up with SD cards to a total of 64GB. Quite a difference.

Software

Tie: LG Optimus Pad
Android 3.0

Tie: Motorola Xoom
Android 3.0


With both gagets coming packed with Google’s debut all-tablet OS known as Android 3.0 or Honeycomb to its friends, there’s nothing to separate the two when it comes to software. Neither LG nor Motorola have taken it upon themselves to adulterate the experience with S-Class or Motoblur, so users are in for a real treat. There’s been a lot of efforts from the Android team to get this tablet OS just right with all sorts of good looking desktop-type apps such as Gmail and Mapping and everything else you might want. Take a look at our in-depth view of Android 3.0 Honeycomb for the details.

Connectivity

Tie: LG Optimus Pad
3/4G, BT, Wi-Fi, USB, HDMI-out

Tie: Motorola Xoom
3/4G, BT, Wi-Fi, USB, HDMI-out


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 networkable versions will come in Q2 2011. Similarly, the LG Optimus Pad in the US is all ready to go on T-Mobile’s 4G network but we’ll have to settle for just HSDPA over in the EU for the while. Beyond the mobile networks, both tablets offer Wi-Fi - including the hotspot creation that comes with Android - microUSB ports and HMDI-out as well for all your big screen watching needs.

Interestingly, though, neither one of them has chosen to go down the route of DLNA, NFC or any other kind of more local wireless connection which is ultimately a bit of a shame but probably helps keep the costs down. Just don’t forget to carry your cables.

Features & Usability

1st: LG Optimus Pad
Stereo speakers

2nd: Motorola Xoom
No stereo speakers


It’s pretty sad that this category is going to come down to something as trivial as stereo speakers but when the features in this case are pretty much all supplied by the software, then that’s going to happen given that they both run the same OS. What’s worse is that not only are speakers on a tablet fairly redundant anyway but you can also pick up a dock complete with them from Motorola if you want.

Aside that issue, both tablets have Flash supporting browser, Wi-Fi hotspot creation and access to the world’s largest book service with Google eBooks. There’s also tabbed browsing and one of the best Gmail applications around.

Conclusions

Winner: Optimus Pad

Loser: Motorola Xoom

This fight was desperately close but, objectively speaking, you probably have to hand it to the LG Optimus Pad. It doesn't have expandable storage and its screen is slightly smaller but ultimately it can capture 1080p and take both stills and video in 3D and that's just a function that the Motorola Xoom has simply no answer for.

If you're not interested in 3D, then we might suggest that the Xoom would be the better way to go with the convenience of 16:9 aspect and effectively limitless storage options but, ultimately, what would probably make all the difference in this case would be the price. Neither of these tablets are going to come cheap but stay tuned for news of what they'll cost come shelf hitting time as well as out in-depth look at the all important usability once we get them both in for a full review. In the mean time, how about throwing in the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 just to confuse you? 

Is the 3D feature that important to you or would you still prefer the Motorola Xoom? Let us know in the comments.

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