Apple iPad 2 vs Motorola Xoom

The iPad 2 is now official, but is it worth the cash? Although the original iPad has had the lion's share of the tablet market since its launch, there are now plenty of other devices on offer with the Android-powered Motorola Xoom looking like one of the most likely contenders for the iPad's crown.

So, has the second coming of the Apple tablet done enough to stop the others snapping at its heals? We threw their spec sheets in the ring together to find out. It’s the Apple iPad 2 vs Motorola Xoom.

Form Factor

1st: Apple Pad 2
241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8mm, 613g
2nd: Motorola Xoom
249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9mm, 730g


The two things that count the most in modern day form factor are “how thin is it?” and “how heavy is it?” and Apple has come back with a real body blow for Motorola on this one. At 33 per cent thinner than the original and skinnier even than the iPhone 4, the iPad 2 is just 8.8mm in profile and only 613g in weight. Add onto the pile that Apple products are generally pretty damn aesthetically and ergonomically good and you’ve already got an excellent reason to forget about Android.

Display

1st: Motorola Xoom
10.1-inch, 1280 x 800px, LCD with IPS
2nd: iPad 2
9.7-inch, 1024x768px, LCD with IPS


Round one might have been a snap for the iPad 2 but, with no change to the viewing surface and those Retina Display hopes dashed against the rocks, the screen to watch definitely belongs to the Xoom.

In fact, one of the Motorola’s most popular aspects is its large 10-inch display. The LCD screen has IPS which means that you get a decent viewing angle - the same as with the iPad 2 - but the Xoom also has the advantage with its relatively high 1280x800px resolution, as well as a proper 16:9 aspect ratio for widescreen video viewing rather than the slightly awkward size that Apple presents.

Engine Room

Tie: Apple iPad 2
Apple A5 chip, 1.2GHz dual-core CPU
Tie: Motorola Xoom
Tegra 2, 1GHz dual-core CPU


The second-generation iPad has been given a huge boost with the inclusion of Apple's new A5 chip, replacing the original model's A4 chipset. It's a dual-core processor which means that it measures up to the Xoom's Nvidia Tegra 2 in terms of power and, indeed, they’re both based on the architecture of the ARM Cortex-A9 family.

Apple is claiming that the performance jump works out as twice as fast as the original iPad with 9x the graphics power. However, in comparison to the Tegra 2 SoC it appears that we’re looking at something more or less equivalent.

Storage

1st: Motorola Xoom
32GB + SD
2nd: Apple iPad 2
16GB, 32GB or 64GB flash


The iPad 2 is slightly unusual compared to other tablets in that it doesn't offer any expandable storage, something that's common on Apple devices. You can choose from 16, 32 or 64GB and, although the second-gen iPad was rumoured to be getting an SD card slot, it seems that these plans were halted at the last minute due to "engineering issues". The Xoom is only offered as a 32GB model, but this is upgradable by SD card (this won't function until a software update arrives, though). Once it's released and fully operational, it’ll give you the equivalent maximum storage to the iPad 2 but with it the slight edge with the flexibility that you can swap cards in and out. A small win but a win nonetheless.

Battery

Tie: Apple iPad 2
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: Motorola Xoom
Android 3.0 Honeycomb
2nd: Apple iPad 2:
iOS 4.3


The recently announced Apple iOS 4.3, appearing on the iPad 2, looks good. Of that there is no doubt. In fairness, Google’s Android 3.0 looks pretty smashing as well. Now, we could chew the fat for quite some time on the ins and outs but the fact is that the Android OS simply has to win for two very good and very well-documented reasons. The first is that the Honeycomb offers a full browsing experience while the iPad 2 will give you everything except Abode Flash which is a bit of a bummer because it’s still an important enough web tool to miss.

The second reason is that, although mobile hotspot creation has been added for iPhone 4 in iOS 4.3, it’s not present in the iPad 2. Now perhaps that’s not as relevant when talking about a tablet which has 3G anyway but you can bet that there’s a situation out there where you’ll miss it.

Apps

1st: Apple iPad 2
65,000+
2nd: Motorola Xoom
100+


Quite a telling category this one, as pointed out quite neatly by Steve Jobs at the iPad 2 press conference. At the time of writing, Apple has 65,000 dedicated apps available for download for its tablets. Any Android tablet out there has just 100. Now, while this is bound to change within the next 6-12 months for Honeycomb, there is going to be a bit of a lean spell and playing Angry Birds small screen on your 10-inch tab is a little soul destroying. Big win for the iPad 2.

Connectivity

1st: Motorola Xoom
3/4G, Wi-Fi, USB, SD, HDMI and more
2nd: iPad 2
3G, Wi-Fi, HDMI, BT


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 SD cards. Fortunately, the iPad 2 brings with it support for HDMI-out at 1080p resolution - a considerable improvement on the 480p you could get out of the original. Admittedly, this is done through a bit of a silly cable that’ll cost you an extra $39 but it’s no biggie really. As it goes, the USB problem is fixed in much the same way but it’s not quite as smooth.

Other than the SD and 4G, the iPad 2 has it all there in terms of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so, if you can survive without, then it’s not so bad. Still, a win for the Xoom all the same.

Imaging

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


Frankly most people will be too overjoyed that there’s not one but two cameras on the iPad 2 to notice that Apple has still managed to lose this category. While Apple has refrained from talking megapixels, the important part of the specs is that there’s no LED flash like the one available on the Motorola Xoom. So, even if the iPad 2 can compete with the 5MP front and 2MP rear, it’s still going to lose out in the imaging department

Price

1st: Motorola Xoom
£499 (32GB, Wi-Fi only)
2nd: Apple iPad 2
£612 (64GB, Wi-Fi only)


Apple made an excellent move by keeping the iPad 2 prices just the same as the first generation. Bit annoying if you bought an iPad in February though. The only price point announced for the Xoom is the Wi-Fi only 32GB version which, oddly enough, is equivalent to the 64GB iPad 2. Despite the strange storage maths, the Xoom wins by a score.

Conclusions

Tie: Apple iPad 2
Tie: Motorola Xoom


Well, apologies for the massive let down after all that but it’s going to have to be a draw. There’s plenty to separate these two tablets but once all’s put on the scales of judgement, it comes out even.

The stand out categories of importance are the software win for the Xoom, the huge app advantage on the iPad 2 and the very alluring form factor success that also goes to Apple’s upgraded device. Beyond those, it’s really a case of niggles. The question for you is what’s going to bug you most? Not having a Flash browser or having a piddling number of tablet sized apps to enjoy? Your call.

What do you think of the new iPad? Does it get your vote or will you be investing in an Android tablet? Let us know in the comments.