Motorola Xoom: Weighed, Measured and Found Wanting

Just this past week, I put my beloved T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy Tab on craigslist in anticipation of getting the first Android 3.0 tablet: the Motorola Xoom courtesy of Verizon Wireless.  As expected, the Tab sold rather quickly and the price offered was right so I naturally saw this as a sign to get the Xoom (yeah right).

I had been contemplating on splurging for this particular product because it’s not only the first one, I’m use to being an early adopter, but I didn’t want another device with a data plan contract.  But I went against my better judgment and became the proud papa of a Darth Vader-ish looking slab on Monday afternoon.

I should’ve been tipped off by the final bill of $666.89 including my first month of prorated data AND the obligatory $35 activation fee.  Even before I left the store, my Gmail, Contacts,and  Calendar had all been populated.  Now this is a device for the post-PC age!

First impressions as I walked to the car: the screen is VERY glossy and almost impossible to see outdoors.  Even worse than an iPad, in my opinion.  The Xoom may be the same weight as the 1st-gen iPad but it certainly feels heavier.  Not sure if this is because it’s more of a landscape device versus a default portrait, but it is.  I like the “stateless” hardware button on the front as Honeycomb gives you software buttons for the Back, Home, Multi-task trifecta.  And I may be one of the only people who likes the power/standby button on the back as it’s not accidentally bumped, mashed, etc.

Okay, now fast forward two whole days and it is now boxed up and will be back in Verizon‘s retail inventory by this afternoon.  And I will gladly pay the 10% restocking fee counting myself fortunate.  I was surprised that even without Flash and the LTE upgrade, the Galaxy Tab actually felt like a more polished device then the Xoom ever will.  The Tab worked out of the box without anything needing to be added, sure it has an ancient OS, Android 2.2, but it was production ready from the get-go and it was familiar to us phone users.  Because let’s face it, it really is just a big phone without a proper phone app (North American device).

I downloaded my prerequisite apps to the Xoom that I use for work: AndChat, Skype, populated the Email client (that has no push abilities for IMAP.  Yes K9 is an option but I was surprised nonetheless #justsayin), Google Voice is not available, and Seesmic for Twitter.  For what it’s worth, I tried to install my paid for Gameloft games: Ultimate Spiderman and Modern Combat:Sandstorm.  But they only generated a “copy violation” warning when I tried to run them.  Bump.  The only apps previously mentioned that are formatted for the Xoom are AndChat and the native Email client.  I really like the Android 3.0 browser but after crashing about 50% of the time I tried Dolphin HD.  It stutters and chugs worse than a 1977 Vega and is definitely not written for Honeycomb.  I copied Toy Story 3 over and it looked just okay.  I was hoping for a more HD viewing experience but it looked better on the Tab possibly due to the smaller 7-inch screen thereby creating pixel density.  Trying my best to use it as an in-between device I kept finding myself putting it down and leaving it for a proper laptop.  Not good for an almost $700 luxury piece of kit.

In closing, the Xoom is a a small step for tablets but a giant leap for Android-kind.  But in these economic times with gasoline coming close to $4/gallon, I cannot personally justify keeping such a gadget of extravagance and then paying Mother Verizon an extra $20/month for the privilege of 1mbs down on their aging 3G network.  I will be paying close attention to a market ready Android 3.o tablet but this one ain’t it.

The Good:

  • Android 3.0
  • Awesome battery life just under iPad’s
  • Fast WiFi connectivity, fast charging to full battery
  • Tegra 2 dual-core processor, RAM, and 32GB onboard
  • The future upgrade of Flash, LTE, and other OS updates that will hopefully exterminate the bugs.


The Bad:

  • iPad/iPad 2 exists
  • Makes the iPad 2 look even better and a refurb’d iPad a downright bargain at $350.
  • The lack of Android 3.0 apps but they will come.
  • Can’t use microSD slot yet
  • Expensive contract with Verizon
  • WiFi-only version will cannibalize Big Red’s Xoom sales
  • Lack of a 16GB version to get in on the ground floor
  • Heavy and even more awkward to hold than an iPad
  • Until Skype gets on board the front/rear cameras feel like a gimmick and a way to keep up with the Apple’s.


  • HoneycombFTW

    sounds like you should be writing for engadget. . . just sayin’.

  • NetAdmin

    Some of your “bads” don’t make any sense. i.e. You can’t use the “iPad/iPad 2 exists” as a negative against the Xoom. That’s a pretense you accepted when you purchased it. It’s an irrelevant fact… a red herring…

    Also, I agree that it is pricey, but your comparing it to a stripped down, refurbished iPad price. A 32Gb iPad2 w/ wifi + 3g is around $730 (comparable, but also has less features)

    • You’re right. I’ll clarify. The iPad is not a negative against the Xoom per say, just the market that it competes in. Except for educated consumers, the lower end iPad will always be compared to anything Android whether it’s apples-to-apples or not.

      • Bart

        Thats crazy, you are saying that an Android device has to be better than a top of the line Apple product but cost less than the entry level Apple product? Any consumer who is not ‘educated’ deserves what they get, and you writing a review precludes the readers of it being ‘uneducated’ so why would you treat them as such?

  • There will be great and successful Android tablets, but when an *AndroidGuys* review of it is this negative, you know the XOOM is doomed.

    Even if perfect, it’s too expensive to compete with the iPad, much less iPad 2, except among diehards like us. And it was so rushed out, it’s far from perfect. Yes, I know the XOOM has better hardware specs. Most people looking to buy a tablet won’t care.

    Hopefully the failure of the premier Honeycomb device doesn’t cast a pall over Honeycomb itself, which is not really the problem here…

    • HoneycombFTW

      You do know that there are many very positive reviews of the Xoom?

      android community review:

      Check out youtube for several. . . has a good video review and a video comparing Xoom Vs iPad => Xoom wins 😉

      Basing anything on one would be very erroneous, and as pointed out by a few Xoom owners in the comments here. . . they don’t agree with this review.

    • Brucewilsonpa

      Why do people continue with the “it’s too expensive” line? Yes, $800 is a lot to shell out… for any gadget! If you compare Xoom to the comparable iPad though it’s only $60 more, not the 100’s implied by comparing to the cheaper iPads. And, although it has teething problems because Motorola was determined to beat Apple, they’ll get fixed in time and I don’t see anyone arguing that the Xoom, as designed, is a failure….. give it some time folks!

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, but you just left me confused with this. Once you got to the negatives you just started rambling, never offering a concrete “this is why I disliked the Xoom” kind of comment.

    Looking at your list of Cons didn’t help either. Pretty much everything on your list is something everyone knows about the device already, and something anyone looking at buying the thing would know beforehand. I didn’t learn anything new here.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really defending the Xoom. I used it for ten minutes at a Best Buy and came away with mixed opinions. Mostly I thought it was heavy, so you could have tested that out before you bought it.

    Hey, I love being an early adopter as much as the next guy, but the last time I did that I ended up with the G1 for a year, and I nearly threw that thing against a wall. This time I’m going to wait, and hopefully we’ll get a cheaper tablet eventually. I figured it would take a while for the apps to catch up.

    • Yeah, in the end with two kids in college and three in private school, I just couldn’t justify keeping it for the price and what little value I was getting out of it.

  • HerpinTehDerps

    “For what it’s worth, I tried to install my paid for EA games: Ultimate Spiderman and Modern Combat:Sandstorm. But they only generated a “copy violation” warning when I tried to run them. ”

    That’s not the fault of the Xoom but of the game publisher, how can you blame android for that? When I switched to my nexus s & tried to reinstall dungeon hunter I got an error from the application about it not being a legit copy (used astro to back up my apps) so following the same line of thought it’s the fault of the nexus s that i couldn’t install the app

    • HoneycombFTW

      yeah, I thought about pointing that out but it sounded like someone just wanted to vent for some reason.

      If we take all his cons and remove the overly opinioned* & pro-apple ones along with the KNOWN “to be upgraded” items we end up with,
      – The lack of Android 3.0 apps but they will come

      I would think an early adopter of a first generation product would be aware of that con, and for me out of the box I can do most everything I need with the zoom via the browser with “web apps.”

      • HoneycombFTW

        yeah, I realize I spelled Xoom wrong at the end there :~p

        • HerpinTehDerps

          To say you’re an early adopter & not understand that apps will come, (and given that Google was giving away Xooms, I think they’ll come pretty quick), is just really silly, it takes time for developers to get their hands on the hardware, develop, & test their apps

          The only real con I can see is the price, but then again having early adopter syndrome means we pay more for the hottest tech, so kinda a yes & no on that one, overall I think it should be lower priced though

          personally I’m waiting for a good handwritten note app, using note everything right now, which don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad but it needs to be a little more refined

          On a side note I’ve ran across one secured site I haven’t been able to log into ( on the Xoom but can on the Nexus S, have you ran across any or know of anyone who has?

          • HoneycombFTW

            I agree the 3G/4G version is over-priced. I think that’s partly due to Verizon and the “early adopters pay more marketing mentality.”

            Haven’t seen or heard of any login issues however, there are times when I’ve had issues with the desktop version of Chrome–not login issues just some sites JS & other things not working properly but that could be my settings, thus FF4 with default setting gets the job done for me. Honeycomb does have a few bugs in default apps and/or the OS and hopefully they will be squashed by the time the WiFi versions is released in April. That’s when we’ll see more “normal users” jumping on board. It’s nothing different than when the iPad was released. People were complaining that non-tablet apps were crashing (and still are).

          • HerpinTehDerps

            Very true, you can’t expect 100% compatibility on an app that wasn’t written for the OS, I don’t understand why people can’t make that distinction.

            I haven’t tried FF4, I’ll have to check that out & see if it resolves the issue as I was using the default browser with all the default settings, now that I think about it, it may have been a javascript error that was causing the problem, I’ll have to look into that as well. Other than that I’ve had no problems with the tablet other than the occasional force close but that’s the nature of any OS/app, things fail from time to time.

            I also agree that Verizon had a hand in the pricing & that drove it up.

  • Marc

    Sounds to me like you knew you were taking the device back before you even purchased it. Early adopter? More like the girl who buys a really expensive dress, left the price tag on, wore it to a party, and took it back the next day.
    I have a Xoom and Galaxy Tab. And you’re right, there is a definite lack of tablet optimized apps, but to say the Tab is the better device is laughable.

    “iPad/iPad 2 exists” and The Tab “… was familiar to us phone users. Because let’s face it, it really is just a big phone without a proper phone app.” These two statements killed your credibility. You’re on the wrong site you closet, Jobsian douche. #thatisall

    • I wish! I sold my Tab on Monday and canceled my T-Mobile data line as well for an ETF of $200. I went in buying the Xoom to keep forever. So unfortunately I am out the Tab and $270 including Verizon’s restocking fee. I will definitely keep my eye on the Xoom in the coming months but for now I am looking forward to the Samsung Tab 8.9 releasing on TMO soon.

      • Moose Robertson

        I owned the Ipad 32gig on day one. I sold my 2 weeks ago and bought a xoom. 1. Out of the box-awesome 2. Yes is a little buggy, but so was my Ipad which had constant updates, just like my xoom, it is called early adoption. 3. Functionally I can see more behind the curtain items with the xoom, just more open and I like most people like flexibility. My wife(who is a phd in CSE) really likes the product as well and I bought her one, and let me tell you if she endorses the usablity has to be on point.

        I really like my ipad and the xoom is on par with the 32gig at launch and has more upside than a locked IPAD

        Note: Arent people “jail breaking” ipad to make it operate like android devices that arent even rooted? something to think about.

  • Westvolusiaguys

    Wjy are people so dumb to think apps created for an older version of android will work on a newer version? Some will some wont. Give it 3-6 months there will be plenty of apps for the Honeycomb OS.

  • Gsp

    Such an idiotic review: the Bad: ipad exists:) it was, but I was waiting for XOOM . Got it: not a second of disappointment, and I will gladly wait for a few weeks for Flash.Fast, powerful, excellent display. All will be there: apps, flash, 4g. Ipad is overpriced toy: count any and all paid applications and total those to the price- see now, who is robbing who?>

  • Westvolusiaguys

    I own one also, the weight doesn’t bother me, and the shiney screen is a problem for all tablets. That’s the nature of glass it reflects. My Ipad1 had same problem. I just out a zagg screen protector on it most of the glare was eliminated. I’ll do the same for the Xoom.

  • Richardlmatheny

    I’m going to disagree whole-heartedly. I love my Xoom thus far, there are a few bugs which is going to come with the territory but in comparison to the Galaxy S it’s GOING to get better. Google has never let me down long term if I just stay patient there are apps that are going to be developed as the market expands it’s going to get better. The screen isn’t that glossy to me with the screen protectors provided and with the close-shelled case I dig it. I think this is an early negative review on a product that might have been launched early to take try to take some of the market before Apple corners it like they did with the iPad.

  • Gunner

    HY correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t Modern Combat: Sandstorm and Spiderman gameloft games? how can you trust a review that gets basics like these wrong? It its well known you can’t transfer your gameloft games to any other device, this is gameloft, not android’s fault. Where did you find this “reviewer? Was MG Ziegler at Tech Crunch busy?

    • HerpinTehDerps

      You know you’re right those are gameloft games, I missed that….

      also lol

  • Obvious

    Sam Herren has an established pattern of Android hate (look at some of his prior articles). Clearly he doesn’t belong here and would be more happy on a pro-Apple blog since he’s obviously an Apple fanboy.

  • MDoT

    Review totally inaccurate,and packed with rubbish.

  • Arrerab

    Android guy? More like apple fanboy.

    • MDoT

      I agree…lol. super fanboy cause the moto xoom is very good device.

  • Agreed

  • droiderdy

    Um, you do realize that it doesn’t require a contract and data plan with Verizon, right? They changed that on the day of the launch.

    You do write for an Android news site, don’t you? One would think you might have known (or at least been able to find) that little factoid out…. 😉

  • right on the money!! i was very dissapointed in the xoom not honeycomb just the xoom

  • Westvolusiaguys

    I also love my Xoom, the browser is great and fast even if it can’t display flash content yet. My Ipad1 had a lousy browser always crashed, didn’t have tabbed browsing, and will never have flash support.

  • Love my Xoom, buy your Samsung Galaxy Tab back and get over it.

  • chinga-te

    Sorry dude. You just got taken off my RSS feed.

  • SL

    LOL “these hard economic times”
    Here in the UK the wifi only Zoom is about $800 and ‘gasoline’ is just tipping over $8 per gallon…
    How about a less immotive review?

  • Anonymous

    Yes, the Xoom was rushed out. You can tell there are some hiccups in the OS. But overall I still like it and it will only get better over time as more apps are suited to the tablet.

  • Moose Robertson

    I owned the Ipad 32gig on day one. I sold my 2 weeks ago and bought a xoom. 1. Out of the box-awesome 2. Yes is a little buggy, but so was my Ipad which had constant updates, just like my xoom, it is called early adoption. 3. Functionally I can see more behind the curtain items with the xoom, just more open and I like most people like flexibility. My wife(who is a phd in CSE) really likes the product as well and I bought her one, and let me tell you if she endorses the usablity has to be on point.

    I really like my ipad and the xoom is on par with the 32gig at launch and has more upside than a locked IPAD

    Note: Arent people “jail breaking” ipad to make it operate like android devices that arent even rooted? something to think about.

    • HoneycombFTW

      great comment. nice to hear from a honest first adopter of the ipad–kind of tired of reading Apple fans saying that the ipad had/has no bugs and works flawlessly all the time.

      Also, just read a research article yesterday that said, the #1 requested feature for iOS devices is for a customizable home screen. Apparently they want Android but don’t know it exists lol

  • Anonymous

    I completely agree with everything you said! I was at Verizon when they opened on release day, so excited to finally have my hands on the Xoom. By that evening I was so bitterly disappointed in what I had expected to be such a great device. I returned it the next day and have never regretted it for a second! I also have the Galaxy Tab and I love that device. There is no question that even on 2.2 the Galaxy Tab is so much more polished than the Xoom. Total FAIL as far as I’m concerned.

  • Gunner

    Just goes to show his journalistic integrity, he corrects his mistake of labeling the games mentioned as EA games to Gameloft, but never acknowledges that we corrected him.

    • Ahh, sorry about that Gunner. Thanks for the correction. I had EA Games on the brain because of the ones I had downloaded earlier.


  • lol …. what a bunch of cry babies.

  • Silent1_22

    Your review is basically the same review people were giving the iPad when it came out comparing it to the iPhones / iPod and other droid phones. Yadda yadda yadda, buggy, no supported apps, no camera, no this no that, awkward to hold for any length of time it just doesn’t compare. I was an early adopter of the iPad and I don’t regret as it quickly grew it’s own apps and polished out the bugs. Although, i hated having to continually jailbreak the device to stay updated. I still own the iPad and I now own the Xoom. The screen is glossy, but so is the iPads, they are identical in that category. Reason they choose that is to make images look crisper and keep the colors from fading. I didn’t have any issues viewing my Xoom outdoors, nor did I on my iPad. I’m guessing its just what you are used to if you have a device maybe like the Kindle or a laptop with the non-glossy screens. But anyone knows who’s used both a glossy screen on a laptop and a non-glossy there is definately color and quality loss on the non-glossy.

    The weight of the Xoom vs the iPad is not noticeable. I’m not sure why you think it’s any more awkward to hold than any other tablet. You hold the sides and use your thumbs and if you have small hands, you hold it like a tray in one hand and type with the other. Same thing can be said for the Galaxy tab. Tabs were designed to be a simple answer to people how loved carrying around their laptops but didn’t like the inconvenience of it and people who loved their smartphones but didn’t like the size of the screen. So it’s a happy medium. Why you would want a “tablet” that is too small is beyond me, might as well get a 4″ phone. But to each their own.

    Your review is already a bit over a week old and there are already a good set of tablet apps and even regular apps that have been ported over to be used on a tab and look fine. Skype works fine on here and there is google talk. Developers are rushing to make or convert their apps because they want to get the extra revanue from the Xoom / android tab users.

    I love the xoom and i love the iPad. Both have their ups and downs and depending on what you want to use it for you will favor one over the other. The biggest dissappointment for me right now on the Xoom is that Netflix doesn’t play on it, but that isn’t a Xoom or tablet issue, but an Andriod issue alltogether. Playon, sorta fixes that but you have purchase the software for mediocre quality.

  • Phil

    Bought a Nook Color. Rooted it. Never looked back.

  • As with all reviews, before reading the whole article, i skip to the wrap up to see the general tone of the article and then i saw this: “The Bad: iPad 2 exists”. No need to read the rest, i didn’t know Android Guys got a C Net writer in for this.

  • Easybreather

    $4 a GALLON? Perhaps you should consider the Europeans having to pay 4.5 TIMES that amount. As to the review, perhaps a proper assessment rather than ‘after 2 days returned’ and you claim to be in the vanguard of technology?… #justsaying