In Part One of this post we had the opportunity to look at Motorola’s new smartphone offering. We were impressed. In part two we are going to look at the new Xoom tablet computer that is also arriving sometime in Q1. Yes, both of these amazing devices will be shipping within the next 90 days. Motorola describes their first tablet offering in this way–
Motorola is redefining what a tablet experience can be as the world’s first device to run android 3.0 honeycomb, Google’s powerful operating system designed specifically for tablets and featuring the latest Google mobile innovations. The tablet also comes with support for Adobe flash player, allowing you to browse the web with full access to flash sites, videos and games. Enjoy all of this on Motorola’s 10.1 HD (16:9) widescreen display, enabling HD video content that’s richer and clearer than ever before.
That all sounds really good but what is the reality?
Because the tablet is running the upcoming tablet version of Google’s operating system we weren’t actually allowed to see the device itself in action. Rather, the reps we spoke with shared a number of video clips that have been recorded on the device in real-time. That gave us an opportunity to see what the tablet is capable of doing without the possibility of our seeing something that isn’t ready for “prime time”. The video clips were, however, enough to give us a real sense of how well the device works, and it works well!
Let’s run down some of the key specs that are relevant.
-The device has a 10.1 inch widescreen display that enables HD video content to be played. It simply looks stunning.
-It is running a dual core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor with each core running at 1 GHz. The result is that the tablet can deliver up to 2 GHz of processing power. Translation–it’s superfast.
-It weighs 730 g and so it promises to be a tiny bit lighter than the current generation of Apple’s offering.
-Motorola claims that it gets up to 10 hours of full HD video playback. We are always skeptical about batter life claims so we will wait until the device actually ships.
-Connectivity is through a 3.5 mm headphone jack, a micro USB jack, Wi-Fi B/G/N and Bluetooth 2.1+. The tablet will initially ship running 3G on Verizon’s network but will be upgradable to 4G LTE a few months later.
-It accepts audio formats AAC, AAC plus, MP3 and more. It accepts video content in a variety of formats.
-It has a five megapixel rear facing camera and a two megapixel front facing camera.
-It ships with 32 GB of onboard user memory and 1 GB of DDR two RAM. It also has a SD card slot, but this will only be usable after a software update sometime in the future.
In other words, Motorola’s first tablet offering is a High Def Multimedia powerhouse. It is fast, promises excellent battery life, and will be upgradable with regard to both the memory and the radio speed somewhere down the line. A little questionable is the fact that in order to access Verizon’s 4G LTE network when it goes live you have to bring the tablet to Verizon and have them do both a hardware and a firmware upgrade. When asked about this the Motorola representatives affirmed the fact that upgrading the device to run on the 4G LTE network requires a physical antenna update done by a Verizon technician. When asked if this would be free they obliquely replied that there would probably be some sort of a fee attached to it. That’s a little bit troubling. You buy a device with the promise of something and then have to have a technician crack it open and pay for the pleasure before you can actually access the new functionality.
Finally, let’s talk about the physical attributes of the device itself. It’s stunning. It’s got just enough heft to it, it has no physical buttons around the bezel, and it feels like a solid device that can put up with a good bit of use over an extended period. We were impressed. The chassis is extremely rigid and didn’t do much creaking when I put some torque on it. The glass felt solid and smooth which I am assuming but cannot confirm is Corning’s Gorilla Glass. The device is not too thick, but not too thin either. It’s thick enough to easily grip with both hands and be able to type with your thumbs. The fit and finish follows the same quality feel and build as most of the current Droid devices. There is a good weight and solid feeling which makes us believe that it is as sturdy as it appears.
The device should be shipping in the next 90 days and we will be curious to see what it’s like when we actually get a chance to use the device for more than simply view video clips of it in action.
If, however, the clips we saw are any indication, Motorola is finally releasing a tablet that can truly compete with Apple’s iPad–at least the current generation. What happens when the next generation of the iPad is announced is anyone’s guess.