Motorola Xoom 2 is a facinating Tablet
Motorola has chosen an odd time to release it’s latest Android tablet — the Motorola Xoom 2 — given a certain “fruit” company is about to unveil a third generation of its market leading device.The Xoom 2 actually appears in two editions (the Media Edition being the other) and this one is a little thinner and lighter than the original, as well as adding a few extra features.
Importantly, the Xoom is slimmer than its predecessor, and about 10 per cent lighter. Weighing in at about 600 grams, the Xoom 2 is as light (or as heavy) as the iPad 2 and the 10-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab, and it certainly feels far better to hold than the original Xoom.
Motorola appropriated its clipped-corners octagonal design from its recent Razr release, giving the Xoom 2 a fresh, unique appearance. The back of the tablet is mostly cool, steel-coloured aluminium, with a rubberised plastic trim for where your fingers rest when you hold it. Along the bottom edge of the Xoom 2, you’ll find micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports — side by side for use with docking stations — and a microSD card slot and micro-SIM slot beneath a protective flap. The power button and volume rocker are on the right-hand side, although the close proximity of these makes it quite hard to distinguish which one will turn the volume up, and which one will turn the screen off.
While it may not be a core feature for many users, the Xoom 2 still has a five megapixel auto-focus shooter. We found stills we’re generally good quality, although colors were often slightly muted. One plus of photography on tablets of this size is the ability to view your shots, full-screen immediately. Unfortunately, given the greater degree of control available on a 10.1-inch screen, there’s no touch to focus feature. Instead, the Xoom 2 attempts to concentrate on what it thinks you want focused. Photography options consist of a few preset modes, color effects, exposure settings, size, quality and the ability to switch between macro, infinity and auto focus. The front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera is still here. Fortunately, nine months since we first saw the Xoom, Honeycomb’s app offering has expanded and compatible voice-call services (did someone mention Skype?) make this a far more valid addition than it did on the first Honeycomb tablet.
Although perhaps not as stunning as the screen on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, the 10.1-inch screen is a pleasing improvement over the original Xoom. Colours are vivid, which makes photos and videos look great. It has a very wide viewing angle, which is particularly handy if you’ve got people crowding round to watch the antics of the ever-adorable Maru.
The screen’s made from Gorilla Glass, which is more scratch resistant than regular glass screens, although it seems absolutely ravenous for fingerprints so make sure you keep a cloth handy if you want it to always look at its best.
Offering a sleek and seamless browsing experience the Xoom 2′s web credentials are without fault. Whilst the well-spaced and user friendly touch keyboard allows for simple URL input, the expansive display provides crisp images and bright, vibrant and detailed representation of images.
Keeping the far from cheap tablet protected against the rigours of daily life, the maker has fitted the device not only with Corning Gorilla Glass but the same splash-guard nano technology that protects the new Motorola RAZR against spills.
Put to the test, the water repelling tech works well allowing modest amounts of liquid to be removed with no lasting damage or trace.
Whilst the inclusion of rear-mounted cameras on tablets is a move still fraught with questions of use and purpose, Motorola has plumped up the Xoom 2’s back snapper to a 5-megapixel offering. Less than convincing, the camera boasts a slow shutter with issues around washed out colours and less than crisp edges.
Beyond the tablet’s basics, Motorola has put some thought into how to extend the tablet experience, focusing on home entertainment and multimedia playback. As with the Motorola Razr, the Xoom 2 comes with the new Motocast media-streaming software, which communicates with a server client that you install on a PC or a Mac, and streams files that you dedicate for sharing from your home machine (or work machine) to the tablet. You can choose to stream music, photos and videos, and you can download documents in any format compatible with apps on the Xoom. Considering the fact that the Xoom 2 ships with the Microsoft Office-compatible QuickOffice HD app, Motocast could give you access to all of your work documents on the move. You can even establish a connection with multiple machines simultaneously, using a single log-in.
An optional extra, we managed to get our hands on the Motorola Active Stylus, priced at £22 ($34), and working exclusively with software found on the 10.1-inch Xoom 2. Motorola has told us it won’t be playing with the smaller screened Media Edition. Well, it will — it’ll work on any capacitive screen, you’ll just miss out on the dedicated Floating Notes app. The stylus (which requires an AAAA battery) works across the full gamut of Honeycomb apps and menus. There’s a decent heft to it, and it makes a satisfying tap noise on the Gorilla Glass display. Motorola hasn’t yet revealed who is responsible for the digitizer, but we’ll be updating here when we do.