Customer Review

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5.0 out of 5 stars Comparison of my IPad 2 with my Xoom, April 8, 2011
This review is from: Apple iPad 2 MC773LL/A Tablet (16GB, Wifi + AT&T 3G, Black) 2nd Generation (Personal Computers)
I have purchased both an iPad2 and Xoom for different family members. I thought it worth comparing the two devices for anyone interested. Many of my comments are subjective so bear that in mind when reading the review.

External appearance and feel:
The iPad2 screen has a different feel from the Xoom screen - the iPad2 is a bit slicker, less likely to stick when moving short distances. The screen on the Xoom tends to show fingerprints more than the Ipad2 for some reason. Everyone in this family thinks that the iPad2 looks sharper than the Xoom.

Both weigh 1.6 lbs. Subjectively, the Xoom feels heavier than the Ipad2, but it's an illusion perhaps caused by it's slightly smaller size. UPDATE: I need to learn to use the scales - the Xoom is about 3 ounces heavier than the iPad2.

Both have a similar size screen, measured diagonally. But the aspect ratio is different - 4:3 for iPad2, 16:9 for Xoom. This means that the iPad2 actually has a larger viewing area, and this makes a real difference when scrolling through a web site. The iPad2 screen is brighter than the Xoom screen.

Hardware performance:
The Xoom feels a bit faster than the iPad2, and the specs show that it is faster. Both have dual core processors based on ARM designs. The Xoom seems to be able to handle graphics better than the iPad2. As far as connecting to Wifi networks, both seem to have this one down pat - they both just work.

User Interface:
The iPad2 is just like a big iPhone. Whether this good or bad is subjective. For me, it's good - polished, flexible and can be customized to my needs. The Xoom user interface is totally new, and unfortunately it shows - there are many rough edges. Some examples: moving icons around to group programs together is not intuitive and they keep moving back; you can see the first 5 applications running on the Xoom and select one, but the list doesn't scroll so applications that don't show in the list can't be selected; you can't close applications (except by a force quit that can lose data) as the Xoom decides when to quit an application; customization is possible but more difficult than the iPad2. In short, the Xoom user interface is a work in progress - great potential but currently quite flawed.

Operating System:
The iPad2 uses Apple's IOS. It works, but it uses cooperative multitasking which (in theory) is less effective than the full multitasking on the Xoom which uses a version of Google's Android designed for tablets. In practice, they both work fine and I doubt anyone would notice the difference.

iPad2 has 70,000 apps available from the Apple App store and it also runs the 300,000 apps available for the iPhone. Xoom currently has around 60 apps and it can run Android phone apps (but they are stretched in one direction which makes them look strange). Some of the iPad2 applications are pretty impressive - GarageBand for example. There are many games on the iPad2, and just a few games made for the Xoom. If this doesn't improve quickly, the Xoom is sunk. After all, applications are generally the reason people buy these devices.

Because of the screen aspect ratio that I mentioned, I prefer browsing on the iPad2. The Xoom has Adobe Flash and the iPad2 doesn't, but so far I haven't come across a single instance where this has been an issue. I'm sure there are very many sites not compatible with iPad2, but I haven't browsed to one of them yet.

I don't use the camera much, and I'm not really sure if either is better. In the family, the Xoom owner says the Xoom is better, the iPad2 owner says the iPad2. The Xoom has flash and iPad2 doesn't which is a win for Xoom, but the Xoom seems slower to take a picture.

The Xoom has two small speakers, iPad2 has one slightly larger speaker. The sound is somewhat better quality on the iPad2 and the Xoom cannot achieve the same volume as the iPad2. But they are both pretty poor - use earphones or an external speaker if you want decent audio.

Battery life:
Difficult for me to give an exact comparison, but based on family usage it seems the iPad2 has the edge here, but not by much.

Internal storage:
The Xoom has 1GB of RAM and 32 GB of flash storage. The iPad2 has 512MB of RAM and 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of flash storage - I bought the 64GB model.

External storage:
The Xoom has an external card slot that supports SD cards, but the software was not ready in time for the product release. The slot is inoperative until Motorola releases an operating system update. The iPad2 has no external storage support.

User Experience:
The iPad2 was up and running quite quickly. I connected the device to iTunes and it automatically updated to the latest version of the operating system. I was then able to select and download Apps immediately and start using them.

The Xoom was not so easy. For some reason, I was not able to install the latest version of Google Maps or Adobe Flash. I was able to download the apps, and the install process appeared to work without errors, but the new apps just were not installed. After some time trying I finally returned the Xoom back to the factory settings and started again, and this time both the installs worked. Of course, this wouldn't be a good solution if you had a ton of applications and/or data on the device.

Apple has their retail stores. You can get a huge amount of help from these stores from people whose only job is to support users. Both iPad2 and Xoom users have web sites available that support their products but you have to spend the time digging for the sites and digging through the sites. You can also purchase an Applecare support package which gives you a couple of years extra support for the iPad2.

Bottom line:
I believe the Xoom hardware may be slightly better than the iPad2 (apart from the screen aspect ratio and the speakers), but the software is terribly lacking. The Xoom was released FAR too early, it's just not ready for primetime.

If I had to pick just one, I'd pick the iPad2 - less hassle, apps for everything, better browsing experience, better support options. The Xoom needs less buggy software and more applications; it has potential but it's not there yet. And by the time it gets there, there will be something better available.

Update 7/5/2011

We have now had the two devices for over 3 months. During that time Motorola released an update to fix some of the issues with the original Xoom. It's somewhat faster, the problem of only seeing the first 5 applications is fixed, there are some extra capabilities for USB, and most importantly, the Xoom doesn't crash every few hours.

However, the biggest issue with the Xoom is still the number of applications available to run in native tablet mode, as opposed to running Android phone applications. I've read that there are 300 applications available, but it's hard to find them. The Android Market doesn't distinguish between phone applications designed for a small screen and tablet applications. You have to read the description of each application to see what it is designed to run on, and finding 300 apps in 200,000 is very time consuming. Apple claims to have 100,000 iPad specific apps in their store.

Another problem with the Android Market is the complete lack of supervision. I understand that anybody can put any application there without any review, and I've read there have been a few problems with malware. Recently I saw an article that claimed there are spyware applications on the store, which worries me a little. I'm not saying you can't get malware from the Apple store, but Apple does look at the apps first - I'm not aware of any malware getting into the Apple store.

The iPad2 does have some downsides I wasn't aware of when I wrote my review. It would be nice to have a general purpose USB connection and a card slot. There is an extra-cost adapter available from Apple that supplies HDMI out and a limited function USB connector. Also the keyboard attachment made for the original iPad doesn't work on the iPad2.

For us, the iPad2 is the winner. The Xoom is sitting on a shelf and I don't think it's been used over a week now. In contrast, iPad2 is in use every day and continues to be a big hit. The primary problem with the Xoom is the lack of tablet-based applications.

Update 7/7/2011

The Xoom has been sold to a colleague who wants an Android tablet. I think the Xoom is better than most of the Android tablets currently available. However, the Honeycomb software feels so unfinished, and the paucity of available tablet-based applications was a major issue. I lost several hundred dollars on the sale, but nobody wanted to use it and there was no point in letting it lay around unused. I'm already under some pressure to buy another iPad2, but I want to wait to see if the rumors of another iPad version in September are true.
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Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 29 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 8, 2011 8:28:40 PM PDT
DogMike says:

Did your Xoom have the Honeycomb operating system or the original OS?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2011 10:02:50 PM PDT
A says:
The Xoom has honeycomb - that is the only OS that Motorola ships on the Xoom.

Posted on Apr 14, 2011 6:30:49 PM PDT
snain says:
Nice review. Just a correction: the iPad 2 weighs 1.3 pounds.

Posted on Apr 22, 2011 5:32:48 AM PDT
Thanks for the review. This convince me that Honeycomb is not there yet.

Posted on Apr 29, 2011 9:35:57 AM PDT
Jason Dent says:
You said the ipad 2 has better sound but its a mono speaker where as the xoom has does a mono beat a stereo?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 29, 2011 2:36:13 PM PDT
A says:
@Jason Dent. The two speakers are just a few inches apart on the Xoom, not enough to produce a stereo effect. The speaker grilles on the Xoom are smaller than the one on the Ipad, so there's lower sound volume.

The speaker grilles on the Xoom are on the back of the unit so if you set the device on a surface (such as a table) the sound is somewhat muffled. The IPad speaker is on the rounded edge of the unit so less volume is lost when it it set flat on a surface.

Hope this helps.

Posted on May 7, 2011 6:41:41 AM PDT
M.A. says:
"The Xoom was released FAR too early..."

You seem to forget you're comparing the Xoom, an initial release, to the iPad 2, an iteration. So I wouldn't call the statement fair. One could easily say iPad 1 was released far too early, especially considering the iPad 2 came out so soon after.

That said, we'll see how 'Xoom 2,' or whatever they decide to call it, fares.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2011 9:02:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 10, 2011 9:06:33 PM PDT
A says:
@M.A. I don't understand why my statement was not fair. If you are making a purchasing decision now, you can only pick what's available now. I reviewed the two units that I purchased. I stand by what I said, the Xoom software is not ready for primetime. Google pretty much admitted the same thing at the Google I/O conference today.

I'm sure that the Xoom 2 will be better than the Xoom, just as the Ipad3 will be better than Ipad2. Every potential purchaser has the option to wait and see. This review is simply a snapshot of what is available at this point in time.

In reply to an earlier post on May 12, 2011 5:30:43 PM PDT
Xoom may be on version 1 and iPad is on version 2, but to a potential customer, that's neither here nor there. The question is which one is the better device?

Posted on May 15, 2011 3:01:10 PM PDT
Thank you for writing this review. I have been going back and forth on which one I should buy. No one could really tell me any of the differences even at the store. My biggest concern with the xoom was the potential lack of Apps because the same thing happened when I bought my phone. I was so excited then I hated it cause there were no apps out there for my phone. Thanks for clarifying that for me. It saved me a lot of upset later. Great Review.
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Location: Seattle, WA USA

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