I have always had a soft spot with Motorola products since I helped launch the Motorola StarTek cellphone in English, French and Chinese markets in Canada when I was on the agency side in the late ’80s. This was a time when phones were analogue technology and Motorola was the undisputed leader in the cellphone hardware market. These were the days of the $1,800 cell phone and expensive cellphone plans.
Then something happened: digital technology came on the scene and Motorola did not have any products ready and Nokia became the market leader. According to Doug Brownridge, who was in charge of North America marketing at that time, there was a fear that the new digital cellphones would cannibalize their lucrative paging business and the product development was killed. They have never recovered from this bad decision, perhaps, until this year with the launch of the Motorola Xoom tablet that won the coveted Consumer Electronics Show product award in Las Vegas earlier this year.
Fast forward to today, Apple is now the market leader in the category eclipsing Blackerry’s reign at the top of mobile devices. Nokia is now in disarray and is working with Microsoft on the next generation of smartphones. Just like in sports leagues, teams do not stay on top forever and comebacks are possible. Remember that Apple came back from the dead and now is bigger than Microsoft, so anything is possible with the right person steering the ship. The best example of this is the Pittsburgh Penguins who were in bankruptcy and at the bottom of the standings, but picked up some great hockey players like Sidney Crosby and now are a powerhouse and Stanley Cup contender every year.
The Motorola Xoom Scorecard
The gadgets in this blog for e-readers will be based on a scorecard and will be evaluated on these 4 criteria to arrive at the score.
The Xoom is an Android tablet with a 1 Ghz dual core processor, its dimesions are 249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9 mm and weighs 700 grams. Battery life is rated for 10 hours. It has a HDMI out port so you connect it to your computer or TV.
The Xoom offers lightning fast download speeds with its 1GHz dual core processor. The dual core processor is now the standard in the next generation of tablets and is included in the iPad 2 and LG Optimus tablets. A dual core processor is like having two microprocessors in one which increases processing speed. The latest iPad 2 for example is 5x faster than the iPad 1. For connectivity it offers wifi and bluetooth technology.
The display offers a 10.1-inch screen with HD quality for easy readability and high quality graphics, but is more rectangular in shape. The Apple iPad has a 9.7-inch screen, but is 2 inches wider than the Xoom. The Xoom supports Flash so you will not get “ A Flash player is needed” to watch video which is a plus. All you have to do is download a Flash app from the Android Market. The 10.1-inch screen is the biggest size at this time, unless somebody is bold enough to create a 8 1/2 x 11 tablet to make reading even easier as publishers will not have to re-flow their magazines to optimize for the smaller screen size. Today, I advise publishers to use a page size of 7” x 10” with 14 pt type to make it easier to read on the tablet.
The touch screen was flawless and also offers the standard pinch to zoom for smaller type. If you have an Android phone you will find the Android 3.0 operating system (Honeycomb) software easy to use and will only get better in future releases. Navigation is similar to an iPad experience so it follows the user friendly approach that is now becoming standard in all user interfaces on tablets. The web browser supports tabbed browsing which makes it much easier jumping from website to website than what is available on the iPad.
The tablet costs $599.99 at Future Shop and you can get a speaker dock for an additional $129.99 and keyboard for $69.99. The unit also comes with a web cam, camera and built-in microphone, so you can Skype with your friends. You can play your MPeg music collection, for people who don’t want to pay Apple for music. The battery is rated for 10 hours, but its built-in power conserve mode extends the life over days versus the Apple iPad which will drain faster unless you shut it down.
The Gadget Report Rating 4.5 out of 5
Ryan Winsborrow from Nerds 4 Hire who provides a second opinion for my reviews says that this is the best tablet he has seen so far. It is very fast, supports Flash and there are lots of apps in the Android market to choose from. People who are becoming alienated by Apple with its vendor lock-in business practices (such as you cannot port your DVD collection to the device; you must buy the DVD from the iTunes store) and battery replacement cost that forces you buy a new device (I had this experience with my wife’s iPod), you have a viable alternative for a tablet purchase.