The Tablet to Create a Better World

This tablet isn’t the next iPad; it’s Motorola’s Xoom, the world’s first Android 3.0 tablet. What a tacky tag line. Create a better world? Come on. The Super Bowl ad titled “Empower the People” was weird, too. It’s as if Motorola thinks the world isn’t such a great place because it’s filled with white ear-budded iPad users. Well, from Motorola’s perspective that probably is true. But from a non-Motorola perspective and as far as I can tell the iPad has inspired a tremendous amount of creativity. The Xoom ad might look clever alluding to Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl ad, but the Xoom doesn’t come close to being a revolution in personal computing that the Macintosh was back in 1984. If anything the iPad was more revolutionary in 2010. The marketing might be a bit off, but the hardware is killer.

The Xoom is expected to hit stores on February 24th and will be ready to connect to Verizon’s 3G, and later 4G, network. Let’s check out what type of hardware the Xoom is packing:

  • 10.1-inch 1280×800 150PPI LCD
  • 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual-core CPU
  • Dual cameras: 5MP in the rear with 720p video capture, 2MP in the front
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • 32GB internal storage, SD slot
  • 10-hour battery life
  • Sensors: gyroscope, barometer, compass, accelerometer, light sensor
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.1+EDR & HID, WiFi BGN, GPS, 3G that is upgradeable to 4G

The Xoom’s multitouch LCD sports a 16:10 aspect ratio, which is unique. Unique to tablets but not to Apple, which has its 13.3-inch MacBook, MacBook Pro, and the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro with the same LCD featuring a 16:10 aspect ratio and 1280×800 pixel format.

The Motorola Xoom supports Adobe’s Flash Player, which is probably one of the reasons the entire Motorola Xoom portal is heavily dependent on Flash. I had to open up Google Chrome to have a look.

I prefer a 4:3 aspect ratio for a tablet, but the iPad could be a little wider. I think the most popular thing to do on a tablet is browsing. Although the trend toward wide aspect ratios has been going on for quite some time I continue to see the majority of websites optimized for a width of 1024 pixels, which interestingly is exactly what the iPad has in landscape mode. A wide display would certainly be great for watching 16:9 HD content, but then the Xoom has a slightly taller 16:10. I’m scratching my head trying to figure out why Motorola decided to use this particular aspect ratio on the Xoom. If Motorola wanted to push HD then it should’ve used a 16:9 display.

Aside from the display, all the other hardware specifications spank the current iPad. I mean literally crushes it. But then there’s a big let down: the Xoom is priced at US$799.99 according to a Best Buy ad as reported by Engadget. That sounds expensive but when you consider the 32GB 3G-capable iPad comes in at a hefty $729, the additional hardware for just $70 doesn’t sound like too much of a premium. Of course, Motorola is Motorola and Apple is Apple. We’ll be able to compare apples to apples when the iPad 2 is announced, which should be pretty soon.

Here’s something from left field:

To activate WiFi functionality on this device, a minimum 1 month data contract is required.

This sounds unusual. You need to pay for 3G data to use WiFi?!? It must be a mistake. If not then that means you need to cough up $20/mo just to use WiFi. That’s just messed up.

When the Motorola Xoom ships on the 24th of February it will be the world’s first Android 3.0 tablet and the world’s most powerful. There is the chance that Apple might announce a dual-core iPad 2 before that date, but there’s no mistake the Xoom is one powerful tablet and a sign that Motorola and Android will be forces to be reckoned with in the upcoming tablet wars.