Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

Summary: Apple is likely announcing the iPad 2 today and after spending a short amount of time with the new Motorola Xoom I think Apple can rest easy knowing they will still have the best tablet on the market.


Verizon slammed Apple with a commercial showing the iPhone on the Island of Misfit Toys, but now we see them holding an expensive tablet that belongs on that same island. In January, I started out thinking the Verizon Motorola Xoom price was reasonable based on a specifications comparison, but then after further thought I came to the conclusion that no tablet over $500 can compete with the iPad. Now after getting my own hands on a Motorola Xoom and spending a day with it I can say that my recent thoughts on tablet pricing remain valid and Honeycomb is not yet ready to compete with the Apple iPad.

Summary thoughts and hands-on video

It has been said multiple times that Samsung jumped the gun and released the Galaxy Tab with an OS that was not optimized for the tablet experience. As you can see in my video below, there are things (such as the Calendar) that are much better on the SGT than they are on Honeycomb and I personally have not seen anything (except for Gmail) that is compelling on Honeycomb. Here is a simple breakdown of my pros and cons of the Android 3.0 OS, as experienced on the Motorola Xoom:


  • Gmail is very good and optimized for the tablet
  • The web browser is fast and looks great
  • Google Maps looks good
  • Google Books is a nice looking application


  • There is inconsistency between landscape/portrait orientation in apps
  • The core Calendar app has a horrible appearance and is not very useful
  • The application selection for tablet apps is extremely limited
  • Other 3rd party Android apps don't function very well on the large display
  • The Home screen doesn't let you use the full display
  • The display doesn't look that great (resolution wise)
  • There is no indication or quick navigation method to jump between panels
  • The Honeycomb widgets are lame
  • I do not like the new virtual three buttons
  • I do not like the notifications in Honeycomb and prefer those in Froyo
  • I am not a fan of the huge keyboard and Swype is not included

When I first received this evaluation unit I thought it was a defect because it reset five times as I tried to perform my initial login. After getting through that phase, attempting to launch Google Maps caused either a force close warning or random reset. I was also seeing issues with the Android Market freezing up. I then performed a hard reset to see if there was something residual from the last reviewer. This time the Xoom only reset itself a couple of times and eventually I was able to use all of the default apps and the device. Thus, it seems the device itself may not be a defect after all, but the OS just isn't quite ready for stability and reliable performance at this time.

The hardware feels good in your hand and has a high quality feel. However, the OS just isn't ready to provide a great experience for the end user. With a new iPad likely to be announced today, I don't think the Xoom has much chance of doing very well with a broken user experience and high price.

I really like the Android OS and am very happy with my Samsung Galaxy Tab. I want to see several improvements in Honeycomb before I even consider taking another look at one of their tablets. I am actually more interested in the HTC Flyer with Froyo and an HTC-optimized Sense experience. The webOS and RIM BlackBerry tablets will now definitely get a closer look from me since Honeycomb is off the table for now.

Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha stated that the Xoom was aimed to come out ahead of the iPad 2, but I am afraid that is not the case and Motorola should have spent much more time with Google getting Honeycomb fine tuned on this new device.

Fellow ZDNet writers have the Xoom too

A few of us here at ZDNet have evaluation Xoom devices to check out, including Jason Hiner, James Kendrick, and Andrew Nusca so make sure to read their thoughts on the Xoom.

I think a quote from Andrew's review is spot on and I completely agree with him here:

But a trip around town reveals that this digital dish, while whipped up with panache and skill, is not yet fully baked. That is to say that the Xoom’s distinctive interface is both a fascinating exercise in imaginative thinking and a baffling hindrance. Navigation is too often not where it’s supposed to be. Important functions and menus are hidden away beyond the reach of a finger. Notifications disappear into the ether.

Other reviews online

There are several reviews now out on the Internet since the device has been available from Verizon Wireless for about four days now so check out some of these detailed looks at the Motorola Xoom:

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I wonder.

    Other than being open source, why does anyone like this OS? All i hear about is its problems, yet people choose to "like" it for some reason and continue to give it a pass when it should be dropped. Vendors keep pushing this garbage on us like it's the second coming. When will they give it up?

    • RE: Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

      I suppose it's because it's something new and an alternative to iOS, which leads to competition and thus lower prices (though perhaps not in this case, lol) Let's hope vendors don't give up, instead let's hope that the Android OS is improved to become a viable alternative iOS. Oh, yes, I don't really like apple, not because of the really slick OS which is intuitive, user friendly and visually pleasing, but because of the "closed door" policy they adopt when using the OS!! And I don't like the fact I'm paying a premium just to have an apple product!
      • RE: Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

        @me@... Regarding your comment about paying a premium for an Apple product, you will really, REALLY have to defend that opinion when applied towards the iPad tablet. IMO, that old chestnut simply isn't true.
      • RE: Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

        $1.35 for a low quality DRM laden micromanaged song you cant even put onto as many items as apple sells, when they are 60 cents each on a CD and you can do what you like with the songs....sorry pal, Apple has you droning along blindly. Following them out of habit or lack of interest to make a choice. The tablet may be the only thing they build that isnt double the price of its competition, but then the tablet is also the single most useless device on the market. I have a great smartphone, Moto-droid, and a small format laptop. Where does a tablet fit? Will you buy a stand and a keyboard for it too? As people figure out they didnt need this thing it may very well eclipse the laptop. But right now its a giant Ipod touch with no reason to be, But you guys will get it cuz the people who made it said it was revolutionary! Lemmings.... Can you form an original thought?
        • RE: Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

          PS. If not for the competition offered by android and google, youd still be paying $9-11 each for your apps. They are NOT automatically right cuz they're Apple. If I had 3 to 4 times the profit margin of my competition I'd certainly be trying to take market from the guys cutting me on price!
      • @tjmajka

        You are in the wrong decade. Apple dropped DRM long ago. I love "tech" people that are clueless.
      • That's not Apple, that's the labels.

        @tjmajka The five device limit came from the RIAA. Believe me, Apple would love for you to buy as many devices as you can afford and play your music on all of them. The RIAA wants to get paid for every song every place, but even <i>they</i> are smart enough to know that horse has left the barn.<br><br>As for the rest of your skreed, opinions are like @ssholes, everyone's got one.
      • RE: Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

        @tjmajka Funny that Apple has all but completely abandoned DRM on music; very few tracks on iTMS have FairPlay on them at this point. They're only charging what the record companies make them charge, since it's the recording industry that thinks that Justin Bieber song you've been bumping lately is worth $1.29.
    • RE: Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

      Single biggest reason; a lot of folks are looking for a tablet pc or a tablet with pc functionality.
      The iPad does not have it.
      The Xoom shows that is has some and could have much more.

      I use Android and iOS.
      While I like the Xoom - it is not quite what I want, but Android is what I need when compared to iOS.

      It really is that simple of a reason.
      • then why not get

        @zenwalker a Win7 PC? If people really want a PC that happens to have the tablet form factor they can get a Win 7 tablet. iPad is not a tablet PC, it's an app machine.
        The Star King
      • &quot;and could have much more.&quot;

        @zenwalker that's the catch, would you buy something that "and could have much more" or wait until it does have much more? It will be interesting to see how many buy a Xoom, though.
    • RE: Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

      So true, their computer OS is superior to windows, but in the real world a lot of people just can't afford the apple premiums and wallow in windows.
      We have 11 pc and laptops in our house of 9 people. 6 smart phones, none of which are IPhones. Bottom line is that competition leads to innovation, and price control. Apple needs Android to succeed so it can too.
    • RE: Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

      I agree. I want a tablet, but not one that's an overgrown smartphone without the phone. I want a tablet that's a small netbook without the hinge and keyboard. Put a full Linux on it!
    • Why does Open source raise the price?

      Who is making the profit on this? After all does Android cost more then IOS4 for Apple to put into its iPad? Seems to me this is a overpriced toy, its certainly cannot replace anything such as a laptop. Why such a premium for the Xoom?
    • RE: Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

      @People - Yes, OpenSource is its main downfall, that concept has always been good in theory, but in the real world it simply doesn't work. Remember Linux? It became a flash in the pan since there was no "consistency" within hardware and software.
      Apple is all about "consistency" so you can pick up any of their devices anywhere in the world and use it, it's a pure "system", not millions of disjointed parts.
      I think the Xoom will find a niche in specific applications within the enterprise, but as an all purpose tool, the iPad is the next iPod which will end up with 72% of the market forever more.
      • RE: Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

        @Pederson - Linux was desined from te ground up as a server OS. Since most servers in the world (something like 85% of web severs last time I read the stats) use Linux. I don't think you can call it a flash in the pan.

        Apple is doing what all big business does creating mechanisms to ensure they have total control.

        E.g. Apple says the reason they don't want Flash on their device is because it can be buggy and create an inconsistent user experience. Everyone knows that the real reason is because Flash provides a fully programmable API in itself. If Apple allowed Flash on their devices there would be nothing to stop programmers from creating their own market portals - completely bypassing the App Store and iTunes.

        People buy Apple because it 'just works' but what they lose is choice.
      • RE: Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

        @mdewan8 Odd. I seem to remember Linux as being designed as a replacement for Minix. Of course, I also remember booting Linux from a floppy disk.
    • RE: Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

      Well it's not big brother Apple for one
  • You got it.


    Opinions are just that. Take them or leave them.
  • RE: Motorola Xoom: Apple doesn't have to be concerned with this misfit toy

    @buymorecars What did he actually get wrong? His criticisms looked pretty valid. He didn't ding them for putting the speakers on the back (I mean - is that optimal?) or that flimsy charging point.