Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb -- not ready for prime time

Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb -- not ready for prime time

Summary: The Motorola XOOM is now available for purchase from Verizon and reviews are popping up all over the web. The XOOM, and more importantly Android Honeycomb, is definitely a work in progress.

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Motorola's foray into the tablet space captured a lot of attention at the CES early this year. The XOOM is now available for purchase from Verizon and reviews are popping up all over the web. The overall impression the XOOM has created with reviewers matches my own based on an hour spent with the tablet earlier this month. The XOOM, and more importantly Android Honeycomb, is definitely a work in progress.

The XOOM hardware is solid and I will wait for a proper evaluation before I give impressions of the tablet. The bigger story is Google's Honeycomb, as the XOOM is the first product to ship with the version of Android optimized for tablets. Having poured over numerous reviews of the XOOM with Honeycomb that confirm my impressions of time with the OS, I can only conclude that the tablet version of Android is not ready for prime time.

When I played with a XOOM and Honeycomb this month, I left the experience with less than positive impressions. I found the interface to be too busy and distracting, something not very good in a mobile device. I also found the interface to be a bit inconsistent at times, which surprised me given earlier versions of Android. Interface objects would trigger different actions based on context, and I regularly had unintended things happen. It was not totally intuitive, and it needs to be. All in all my time with Honeycomb left me feeling that while it looks nice and is a radical change from the Android I am familiar with, I felt that tablets might be better served with an older version of Android onboard, for the time being.

Reviews of the XOOM and Honeycomb on the web have a recurring theme: it is definitely a version 1.0 of a tablet OS. Unfortunately, it really isn't. Android has been growing in popularity and evolving in capability for a while, and it doesn't do Google (or partners) a favor if Honeycomb as released is not fully baked. Google has made it clear that Honeycomb is required for tablets, and that may come back to bite them with early Honeycomb products. Apple has grabbed a majority of the tablet market with the iPad, and is about to release an updated version that will no doubt ratchet up the appeal to consumers. Honeycomb doesn't have a big time window to get finished; Google needed to hit the ground running with a tablet OS and it seems it has failed to do so.

What's the web saying about Honeycomb?

Engadget (Joshua Topolsky): "a lot of the new software feels like it isn't quite out of beta (surprise surprise). We had our fair share of force closes and bizarre freezes, particularly in the Market app and Movie Studio. Most applications were fine, but there definitely some moments where we felt like the whole device was teetering on the brink of a total crash."

CrunchGear (John Biggs): "if you open too many apps, it slows down to a crawl. The horrors that Apple seems to have avoided in iOS are readily apparent here. I had quite a few app crashes and many apps designed for 2.x devices crashed. Google Body, remade for Honeycomb, crashed every other try".

WSJ ( Walt Mossberg): "I've always felt that Android had a rough-around-the edges, geeky feel, with too many steps to do things and too much reliance on menus. But Honeycomb eliminates much of that". He went on to point out: "I found numerous apps in the Android Market that wouldn't work with the Xoom".

GigaOM (Kevin Tofel): "Honeycomb still has bugs to be worked out. Aside from some third-party apps crashing, the Android Market has crashed on me twice in a short time. And after Facebook crashed, the Facebook widget became completely non-responsive." There's good stuff too as Tofel also points out "Notifications are excellent, and competitors should take note."

Slashgear (Vincent Nguyen): "The first batch of Honeycomb slates may have some wrinkles – the missing Flash and paucity of video codec support being two examples – but 2011 definitely looks to be the year that Android tablets will come of age."

Conclusion

The purpose of this overview is not to bash Honeycomb; there are lots of great features that Google has produced in this first tablet version. But that's the problem: I'm not sure Google has the luxury of time to get the tablet experience nailed down to the point it is ready for consumer adoption. The recurring mention of crashes in early reviews is not something we should be hearing about a shipping product, and with the XOOM Honeycomb is indeed now shipping. Honeycomb needed to come out swinging for the fence, but it's still in batting practice.

I suspect the state of Honeycomb had a lot to do with HTC choosing to go with an earlier version of Android for its upcoming Flyer tablet. It would not product a tablet with a glitchy OS. I also believe that what I've seen (in person) of webOS on the HP TouchPad is a better and more solid experience on a tablet. Google has its work cut out for Honeycomb, and better move quickly.

Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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87 comments
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  • RE: Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb - not ready for prime time

    iPad wins again.

    Keep on trying.
    Ron Burgundy
    • RE: Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb - not ready for prime time

      @Ron Burgundy Wait, Droid101 and Lovecock will both be here shortly to tell us that a Beta OS is how life is meant to be lived, and how everything is better when you don't have iOS in your life.
      samalie
    • RE: Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb - not ready for prime time

      @Ron Burgundy And you're happy coz u own thousands of aapl stocks? Or ur'e the secret appl owner?

      I've never understood why apple fanboys get excited when negative reviews are made on non-apple s/w.

      Whatever u say, apple cannot stop android dominance. Face it.
      dev_oo
      • Android dominance.

        @dev_oo

        Dude. What a fanboy.
        Bruizer
      • It's odd, I know.

        @dev_oo
        I've state here for years (well before aapl took off) that I own MS, Apple (and other stocks, too) yet owning that stock doesn't stop me from critisizing Apple if I feel they deserve it, MS, ect.

        The fact that I can get everything I need from a 900.00 Dell that I can from a 1800.00 dollar MacBook is why I buy the Dell, and have 900.00 left to use on other stuff ( a decent 5.1 surround sound setup, ect)

        Yet alot of the Apple fanboys have zero Apple stock (too late to buy, cost too much) yet live and die but their market cap, and Heaven forbid someone puts out a decent review of a competing, non-Apple product: Let the venom fly!

        The sadest part is that once you're off to a decent discussion on an MS or Android based product , here comes DonnieBoy/Ron Burgundy/jamesIdiot/itguyzero to start trolling.

        But then as I said awhile ago, for every WP7/Android product that sells is one more iPhone left sitting on the shelf.

        And it ticks them off, for some reason.
        John Zern
      • RE: Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb - not ready for prime time

        @dev_oo This device gets slow when you open too many apps. That's because it has only 1 GB of memory and the OS has many bugs, even a 3 year old netbook had that ammount of memory. I think Tablets should get boosted with Mac OSX Lion or Windows 8 in 2012, otherwise only the fancy rich people from Holywood will have a Xoom, the rest of people will buy 2nd generation mini laptops (11 inch screen, AMD dual core APU ,4GB memory, 320GB or more of space) and a full OS.
        Gabriel Hernandez
      • wrong

        @John Zern<br>no, not odd, but wrong.<br><br>first, no matter how hard the anti-apple crowd tries to spin the price discussion and give inflated numbers the fact remains: the macbook starts at $999 and the macbook pro starts at $1199.<br><br>and no, it is also not true that every android/wp7 sale (if there are any for the latter) one iphone is left sitting on the shelf. the smartphone market is still expanding. so everyone sells more devices every quarter. if you didn't notice: apple is still selling every iphone they are able to produce.
        banned from zdnet
      • RE: Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb - not ready for prime time

        @dev_oo
        @John Zern

        At what point did he say he was excited about the bad review? At what point did he start cheering? You just couldn't wait for anybody to actually do it before you went on the attack could you? Then Zern goes on this little rant about any MS thread getting hijacked by Apple fanboys. Are you really so delusional that you don't realize they same thing happens with pretty much every topic. Are you so delusional that you don't even realize you do exactly what you were accusing others of doing? Come on, get over yourself. To each their own when it comes to product choices, we all win with competition.
        non-biased
    • RE: Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb - not ready for prime time

      @Ron Burgundy
      Actually, they both suck.
      hoaxoner
    • RE: Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb - not ready for prime time

      @Ron Burgundy
      I agree and I speak from experience, A N D R O I D sucks!!! iOS is the way to go... can't wait to get my iPad 2 in a few weeks!!
      Hasam1991
      • &quot;I speak from experience&quot;...

        @Hasam1991

        You own a Xoom w/ Honeycomb?

        Thought so.
        SonofaSailor
      • RE: Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb - not ready for prime time

        @Hasam1991
        And as many more people have shown Android is prefered over ios and apple in general is made for those who don't demand much from their machines or dollars. The issue with apple is that the devices are very limited in everyday needs and demand, thier price alone makes you a moron if you buy one and are not completely rich and just like to have the new steve jobs toy of the year. The look ugly as can be and as a irepair tech apple products are very very fragile and just not built well. The xoom overall is much better but the price on both the ipad and xoom make them both a who cares product due to price outways the usefulness of either.
        Fletchguy
      • SonofaSailor, Hasam1991 owns everything

        @Hasam1991
        he owns Xoom, Galaxy, WP7, Windows7, Android, Linux, you name it, and guess what

        They all "suck and he can't wait to get his [Insert Apple product here] next week."

        Was that close? :)
        John Zern
    • RE: Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb - not ready for prime time

      @Ron Burgundy I expect Android will keep on trying. Anyone who noticed the conspicuous absence of Android 3.0 progress news last year or tried out the preview / final image in the SDK could have guessed that it wouldn't set the world. Give it a 3.1 or 3.2 (which at Android's pace might be 6 months) and I expect the experience will be much nicer.
      DrXym
      • Trouble is...

        @DrXym

        You have to buy new hardware to get the vendor update.
        Bruizer
    • You have low standards

      @Ron Burgundy <br><br>If a "win" for you is producing a sub-par o/s on limited and lacking hardware, you need to raise the bar a little. (which, by the way, is what the Galaxy and Xoom tabs have done - they raised the bar)
      SonofaSailor
      • RE: Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb - not ready for prime time

        @SonofaSailor <br><br>Talk about low standards. Raising the bar is going above and beyond, not matching the one year old iPad. Raising the bar is making the iPad seem dated, so far the Tab and Xoom have not done that.
        dave95.
      • RE: Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb - not ready for prime time

        @dave95
        What? Xoom and Galaxy didnt match the ipad are you nuts? The ipad was a hurried incomplete device rushed out to the masses and is lacking most of the desired features which Galaxy and Xoom came out the box with. The ipad 2 will just be catching up to the xoom and galaxy which will have new version before the ipad 3 and apple is now stuck playing catch up as far as usability and features. They raised the bar alot and apple can't reach the first step.
        Fletchguy
      • Are you trying to be funny?

        @Fletchguy

        I really cannot tell. Calling the iPad 1 a "hurried and incomplete" device next to the device put out a year later with a OS that seems a little hurried and unstable. I am sure the feature hound will love this one but if the OS isn't fully baked yet what's the f-ing point?
        oncall
      • RE: Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb - not ready for prime time

        @SonofaSailor Its impossible to raise the bar and implement Honeycomb at the same time. LOL
        Tiggster