iPad 2 vs Xoom Review

iPad 2 vs Xoom Review


The Apple iPad 2 and Motorola Xoom are two of the top tablets on the market. Both devices have their pluses and minuses, and each offers something the other does not. So which one is the better tablet?


Hardware and Design

From a hardware perspective, both the iPad 2 and Motorola Xoom are very capable devices. They both have dual-core 1GHz processors, front and rear-facing cameras for video chat, taking pictures, and 720p video, WiFi and wireless options, built-in microphones, speakers, and headphone jacks.

The Xoom's rear camera wins against the iPad's for taking photos, it has much higher resolution and LED flash, but both are about the same when it comes to recording 720p video, except in low light where the Xoom can use the LED flash. The Xoom's camera also has a lot more settings available than the iPad's. But the iPad has some cooler apps, like Photo Booth.

The Xoom has some extra ports for HDMI, USB, and microSD memory card, whereas the iPad uses Apple's proprietary 30-pin connector that requires the purchase of an adaptor for TV output or connecting a camera.

When it comes audio, the Xoom has better stereo sound because there are two speakers, one on each side of the back, but the iPad 2's sound quality is a little better with the one speaker on the corner edge that helps project the sound out instead of muffling it on the back.

The iPad 2 is thinner and lighter than the Xoom. Battery life for the iPad 2 is slightly better too.

iPad 2 vs Xoom Video Review

Screen Comparison

The Motorola Xoom and Apple iPad have very different screens. The iPad's screen measures 9.7" diagonally with a resolution of 1024 x 768, a 4:3 ratio. The Xoom has a 10.1" screen with a resolution of 1280 x 800, a 16:10 ratio. What it comes down to is the iPad's screen is about 3/8" wider than the Xoom's, and the Xoom's display is about 3/4" taller.

The quality of both device's screens is really good, but the iPad has a better screen overall. The colors are brighter and more vibrant, the viewing angles are wider, the touchscreen is slightly more slick and responsive, and outside in bright light the iPad's screen is more readable.

Operating System - Android vs iOS

The operating systems are what separate the iPad 2 and the Motorola Xoom the most. The Xoom runs Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Google's new tablet operating system. The operating system for the iPad 2 is called iOS, this version is 4.3, the same as the Apple iPad 1.

A couple of benefits with Android over iOS include the notification system—if notifications are turned on, an icon appears in the lower right corner for emails, reminders, news updates, etc—the file management is easier to transfer files, honeycomb is all about widgets, customization, flashy visuals, multitasking, and it supports Adobe Flash. Android is more open and accessible. Apps can be had from many sources, including Amazon for a free paid app per day. And Android has a very bright future.

On the other hand, there are many advantages to Apple's iOS. It is simpler, smoother, more polished, and very stable. There's a learning curve when first getting started with Android that takes some time to get used to, and Android has a tendency to force close a lot of apps, and there are more app incompatibility issues, whereas the iPad can run most of the iPhone's apps without a problem, not to mention the 65,000+ iPad-specific apps.

Apple's system is more closed in, but it is more secure than Android, and the apps available go through rigorous testing before being approved. Android has a lot of shady apps available, including stuff that blatantly violates copyrights and material you definitely wouldn't want your kids to have.

From a software standpoint, Android is probably going to be better for the more tech savvy advanced users who aren't afraid to experiment with different things, who want more control over their device, and want don't want to be locked into one brand for hardware. The iPad 2 is probably going to be more appealing for those who want something a little more intuitive and easier to learn, something that's proven and more established, and a little more family-friendly.


Web Browsers

When I first compared the web browser loading speed, the two devices finished loading at about the same time on most pages. Then right before I shot the video above I updated the iPad's firmware, which clearly shows the iPad loading faster. The new firmware attributed to this because Safari loads faster in most cases now with the new firmware.

iPad 2 vs Xoom

The Xoom's Android browser is more desktop-like with the tabs and address bar on top. You can have a total of 16 tabs open at one time. The Safari browser allows you to have 9 windows open at one time. Overall the Safari browser is a little faster and smoother but the Android browser is more functional and offers more settings.

Apps, Apps, Apps

The Apple iPad has the major advantage when it comes to apps. There are over 65,000 iPad apps, plus most iPhone apps will work as well. Android has 135,000+ phone apps, but very few tablet-specific apps. Many of the phone apps will work on the Xoom but aren't optimized for the larger screen so layout can be odd.

Additionally, when it comes to comparing apps that are available on both platforms, the iPad version of the app is often more polished and more visually appealing.

Not to sell the Xoom short, some of the apps on it are better, Google's apps for instance. The Honeycomb maps app has more features than the iPad's map app, and Gmail, search, YouTube, and the calendar apps are a little more functional on the Xoom. It'll take some time for Android to catch up in terms of tablet apps; six months from now things could be completely different.


iPad 2 vs Xoom

Apple iPad 2 Motorola XOOM
Screen Size9.7-inch LED-backlit IPS10.1-inch LCD
Resolution1024 x 7681280 x 800
Processor1GHz dual-core Apple A51GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2
Operating SystemiOS 4.3Android 3.0
Storage16GB/32GB/64GB, no memory card slots32GB, microSD card slot
Memory512MB1GB DDR2 RAM
WirelessWiFi, Bluetooth, 3GWiFi, Bluetooth, 3G/4G
Front CameraVGA2 megapixel
Rear Camera0.7 megapixel, 720p video5 megapixel with LED flash, 720p video
Input/Output30-pin connector, 3.5mm headphone jack, 1 speaker, micmini-HDMI, mini-USB, charger, 3.5mm headphone jack, 2 speakers, mic, SIM card
Battery10 hours8-10 hours
Weight21.1 oz25.5 oz
MSRP $499-$829 $599/$799

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