Recently, Apple launched its new tablet, the iPad 2. It has a few nice features and enhancements. But, can it stack up well with Motorola’s new tablet, the Xoom?
Apple is famous for its elegant mobile devices, even if you’re an Android fanboy and strongly despise Apple, you may need to admit that Cupertino has aesthetic design down pat. Few gadgets can imitate Apple’s minimalist designs so well. The iPad 2 inherits the first iPad’s great looks and refines them over. With a thickness of only 8.8 mm, rounded front border, alternate white color scheme and beveled back, you’ll get thoroughly excited with the new tablet. Although Apple is prettier than Xoom, the Motorola’s new tablet isn’t hard on the eyes. It is slightly thicker at 12.7mm, which is nearly similar with the original iPad. Additionally, the absence of a big Home button means that Xoom can work equally well at all four possible orientations and a virtual homescreen button will always be available on the left lower corner of the screen. Although the iPad 2 has better aesthetic design, those who prefer the darker and more industrial look would feel more at home with the Xoom.
Both tablets are powered by two different 1 GHz dual-core processors. The iPad 2 uses A5, while the Xoom has the Nvidia Tegra 2. Which one is faster? There is no way to know about it accurately, as both tablets use different OS. However, once the iPad 2 is available to the consumers, it is possible to compare an app or game that is available on both on iOS 4.3 and Android Honeycomb. The iPad 2 may have a 512 Mb of RAM, while the Xoom offers 1 GB. In most situations, the larger RAM won’t make a difference, however during graphically intensive activities, like 3D gaming, heavy multitasking and video editing; the extra RAM may come in handy. The iPad is available in three storage options, 16, 32 and 64 GB. While Xoom owners only get 32 GB of internal storage, however a MicroSD card slot is available and you can add 32GB to the available storage. Currently, the slot is still disabled, a future software upgrade will be released soon to allow users use removable MicroSD card. The larger RAM and a theoretically unlimited storage (you can bring more than one memory cards during a travel) make Xoom a winner in this category.
Although the iPad 2 is a huge improvement over its predecessor, the screen is relatively untouched. You will still get the same 9.7” LED-backlit display with 1024 X 768 resolution. Unlike many modern devices, the iPad 2 still sticks with the 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning its display appears more squared than Xoom’s. The Xoom has a (nearly) 16:9 aspect ratio, the bigger 10.1” screen allows us to get the 1280 X 800 resolution. While the iPad 2 is slightly brighter than the Xoom, the WXGA display on the Motorola’s tablet is more appropriate for watching HD contents. Due to this reason, Xoom can be considered to have a better screen.
Both tablets have front-facing and rear-facing cameras. However, the iPad’s 2 cameras probably won’t stack up as well as cameras found in Xoom. The iPad 2 uses a 640 X 480 resolution (VGA) front-facing camera, while the Xoom allows you to send a clearer picture during a video conference with a 2 Mp front-facing camera. The iPad 2’s rear-facing camera is believed to be of the same type found on the iPod Touch line, which is inferior compared to Xoom’s 5Mp camera, equipped with dual-LED flash (you won’t get a flash on the iPad 2) and autofocus. As the result, the Motorola Xoom can turn into a (relatively) modest oversized digital camera with a huge backscreen. If you need a better camera on your tablet, choose Motorola Xoom.
While Apple’s first iPad has been out for nearly one full year, the Motorola Xoom is the first device featuring Android’s dedicated tablet OS, the Honeycomb. As such, many people pointed out that the iPad 2 has an advantage for the availability of more than 65,000 apps which support the iOS 4.3 platform. To date, there are only one hundred apps in Android Market that are designed specifically for Honeycomb tablets. There is one thing clear, Apple’s tablets have a huge head start, but it is likely that once Honeycomb-powered tablets are become more common in the market, many third-party iPad apps will be also ported to Android Honeycomb platform. A few weeks ago, Google released some equivalents to iPad’s native apps, for example Movie Studio which has many similarities with Apple’s iMovie, while Google Chat with Video can be considered to be Android’s equivalent of FaceTime. If you are looking for more third-party apps, then the iPad 2 should be your choice, but if in the meantime you are willing to use Android 2.X apps on Xoom, while waiting for a few more months to get more Honeycomb apps, then it’s alright to buy the Motorola’s tablet.
Additional features and accessories
Smart Covers that come with the iPad 2 is nice, but Xoom also offers many hidden features and interesting accessories that make it a nice gadget to have. For starters, Motorola’s tablet has a direct HDMI output port, (with the iPad you need to buy a HDMI add-on at $39), a standard dock that can turn Xoom into a photo frame, a custom-fit case and a speaker dock. The iPad currently offers a few sensors such as gyroscope, ambient light sensor and accelerometer, the Xoom has all that, plus barometer, digital compass and proximity sensor. Both tablets support the standard 3G connection, but it is reported that Motorola may provide a free 4G (LTE) upgrade in the future. Unlike, the iPad’s devices, you can experience websites capabilities to their fullest with the availability of Flash technology in Xoom’s Chrome browser. Unfortunately, for the time being, the Xoom is only offered on Verizon network, so if you prefer AT&T and other carriers, you should get an iPad 2.
Historically, Cupertino is not known for its affordable devices, but thanks to high number of iPads currently in production and also more efficient distribution line, the iPad 2 currently can give the best value for its feature-set and size. A bare-bone Xoom (Wi-Fi only and 32GB storage) costs $599, $100 more expensive than the Wi-Fi iPad. The 3G Xoom is available at $799 or $70 more expensive than the iPad 2 3G.
It is clear that, both tablets are highly competitive and offer a few unique benefits. The iPad 2 offers a more mature tablet platform, aesthetically better design, more third-party support and lower price, while Xoom has a more powerful hardware and better features, which makes the Motorola’s tablet worthy of a look. If you take a neutral stance in the current Android and iOS battle, you should give both tablets a try and decide which one will suit your needs.