I thought I’d post some thoughts on my recently acquired Motorola Xoom. I bought the 32Gb Wi-fi edition. Physically it feels a little heavy but this gives it a solid, high quality feel. The screen is nice and sharp but the glass is very reflective so it is hard to see in direct sunlight. The power button is in an odd place but you soon get used to it. The cameras are adequate and the stereo speakers are good enough for listening to music and podcasts around the house. I hooked it up to my TV with a micro HDMI cable for retro gaming via the various Android emulators, using the Wiimote controller app to connect a Wiimote with classic controller. I also bought a micro USB adapter and plugged in a keyboard which worked straight away with no rooting or modding required. Even the media playback keys worked. These features show the versatility of the device straight out of the box.
It’s a shame that it can’t be charged over USB especially as the proprietary AC charger looks delicate. Maybe a future update will allow this.
Honeycomb itself is a powerful OS. It’s generally fast whilst navigating around and switching applications. Immediately after setting it up with my Google login, it synced my apps, contacts, Gmail, Picasa photos and Chrome bookmarks automatically. This is the sort of thing a proper post-PC device should be able to do as it doesn’t require connection to a PC to activate and get content onto it. Some of the home screen widgets are very useful. For example, the bookmarks one allows navigation through all of your bookmarks and their folders. An odd omission is the lack of folders on the home screen despite Android for phones having this feature for a long time.
The browser is very Chrome-esque. It’s generally fast, has tabs and an incognito mode. Sometimes it freezes and needs to be killed to work again even on pages without Flash content. Occasionally pages get stuck halfway through loading which is annoying. Also the keyboard seems to slow down when typing things inside text boxes on large web pages.
Adobe Flash 10.2 works well most of the time. All the major UK channels’ streaming video sites work but BBC iPlayer requires a user agent change and ITV Player is not very smooth. There is still the dreaded “This video is not optimized for mobile” message which rears its ugly head from time to time. Videos that do this can be found on Gizmodo. This is probably down to the codecs used in the video not being GPU accelerated. Hopefully this will be fixed by Adobe in the future.
Most Android apps work well enough but some have alignment and scaling issues. Older games like Angry Birds Seasons look and play well. The new ones optimised for Honeycomb and Tegra 2 such as Samurai II look even better.
720p video looks great (H.264 encoding at 3Mbps) as the 1280×800 resolution means they can be seen in their native resolution whilst still leaving room for the notification bar at the bottom. Unfortunately, 1080p AVCHD videos from my camera don’t play well even in RockPlayer.
I played around with the Film Studio app which is impressive but I doubt I will use it much. Since Android 2.3.4 arrived on my Nexus S I was able to try a Google Talk video call between the two devices which worked as expected.
There have been two major crashes so far: one whilst loading a live wallpaper which rebooted the device and one freeze up when playing Angry Birds and copying a large file from the network simultaneously.
The battery life is good for a day’s usage. If I disconnect the charger at say 9am and watch some Flash video, play some games, browse the web and use Gmail throughout the day, it doesn’t ask for a recharge until 11pm. One thing I have noticed is that I have more juice left in my phone now because I use it much less.
There is a definite lack of Android apps optimized for Honeycomb tablets. I think the slow emulator in the Android SDK discouraged development before devices were available. However, in the last few days several Google Reader clients and a Twitter client have appeared. Strangely the version of the Android Market it has installed does not have a special section for tablet apps which I think the US versions have.
The device and software feel a little rushed. I think they wanted to get some something out before the iPad 2 landed (at least in the US). The non-functioning micro SD slot is evidence of this. However, I’m glad I own one. It fills the void left by my old netbook nicely and has some significant advantages over it. I think it is interesting that technology honed in the mobile industry is now starting to influence more general computing.