Motorola Xoom Tablet: The Business Review
Is the Motorola Xoom — a Google Android-powered tablet — ready for business users and channel partners? David Courbanou, my peer here at The VAR Guy, wasn’t all that impressed with early Xoom 2 chatter. But I’ve spent recent days using the original Xoom. iPad lovers cover your ears: I believe the Xoom tablet has something to offer the business world.
First things first. While attending the recent Box.net customer conference, I received a Xoom tablet for free. Generally speaking, The VAR Guy’s editorial team doesn’t accept free technology unless it’s part of a broad conference giveaway — as in this case. Also, we always disclose how we received the hardware and software we test.
To reap the full benefits of the Xoom, you’ll benefit from being an Android smartphone user. When you power-up the Xoom, you’re asked to punch in your Google account info so that all the apps on your Android phone automatically appear on your Xoom. My first impression was that it looked like a blown-up screenshot of my smartphone. But it turns out you can do much more with the Xoom than with your smartphone.
Let’s start with the obvious. The Xoom’s 10.1-inch screen is easy to read and larger than the 9.7-inch screen on the iPad 2, though a little darker. The large screen is easy on the eye when you’re looking at multiple applications on the screen and lends itself well to video conferencing. But when I tried the video conferencing I was disappointed to learn that the HD screen reverted back to pre hi-def days. I’m not sure if this had anything to do with the bad connection on the other person’s end, but the grainy faces were hard to look at after a half-hour or so. The delay can also be attributed to connection issues.
What I did like about the video conferencing: The video-recorder-like option gives the other person a view of your surroundings as if they were standing behind your camera. Great for giving virtual tours. I still haven’t figured out how to take a snapshot of my video conferencing screen. If you’ve figured it out, let me know.
One thing I have figured out — the Android Movie Studio. The only way I can describe it is a touch-screen version of Final Cut Pro (with less special effects). It’s easy to cut parts of film and add music and photos from your own gallery. Great for business presentations.
Then there’s all the widget and shortcut capabilities. Hold your finger down on the home screen to open-up a menu of widgets, applications and wallpapers that you can add to any of the Xoom’s five main slide screens. This gives users an easy way to organize all of their business applications and tools. If you’re in finance, you can have separate pages for business news, business applications, business documents, etc. If you’re, say, The VAR Guy, you can have separate pages for interview notes, scheduled meetings, tech news, videos, blog posts in progress, etc.
You can personalize your Xoom to fit your business (or personal) needs. My personal favorite widget is the calendar — a tight frame that lets you scroll through a few weeks worth of scheduled events in seconds. And don’t worry about adding too many files to your Xoom. It’s micro SD card slot lets you expand your Xoom’s memory if needed.
I liked the Xoom’s screen to the point that I wanted to make it my laptop. The touch screen keyboard doesn’t lend itself to typing very well. It’s more finger-pecking than anything (couldn’t Motorola at least include a swipe keyboard?!). So I went in search of an add-on keyboard and found a $70 option from Logitech, a designer of peripherals for PCs and laptops. It’s a standard keyboard and it has allowed me to turn my tablet into a replacement for one of my worst purchases — a netbook. We’ll save that story for another day.
Two things to keep in mind about the Xoom:
- I’ve had it for less than a month and it has already frozen on me twice. It’s very quick to restart and, so far, that’s done the trick. And all my applications and pages were open when I restarted it. It takes less than a minute, but it’s annoying nonetheless.
- It’s extremely hard to find accessories for it. I had to wade through the piles upon piles of iPad accessories at Best Buy to find a Xoom keyboard and a screen cover. And you don’t have many options. I found one brand of screen cover and one keyboard, made by Logitech.
The Motorola Xoom starts at $499 on Motorola.com.