Arguably the most awaited tablet this year, more so than the iPad 2 in my opinion, is the Motorola Xoom. It will be the first tablet that comes with Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system that is specifically designed for tablets. I got a chance to play with it (along with the Atrix) at it’s Dubai launch today.
The Motorola Xoom is a bit shorter than the iPad but offers a bigger sized 10.1″ screen with a higher 1280×800 resolution which gives it a 16:9 aspect ratio for watching movies without the black bars around the screen. It also felt a tad bit heavier than the iPad. Motorola has managed to keep the size smaller than the iPad by reducing the bezel which could be a good or bad thing. You hold bigger tablets with two hands and with a smaller bezel, your thumb will be on the screen every time you pick the device up which could possibly tap the screen when you wouldn’t want it to. I’ll reserve my judgement when I receive a review sample which should hopefully be around the time it is launch by the end of March in the UAE (end of Feb in the US.)
We will see two models launched in the UAE- one with just Wi-Fi and the other with W-Fi and 3G and Motorola is working on getting a contract version with the local telcos to avoid higher upfront costs. They did not provide any pricing information but the Best Buy leak suggested $800 in the US so my guess would be around AED 3,500 here.
After the launch, I managed to get some alone-time with the Xoom. Please excuse the shaky footage as I had my flip cam in one hand and tried navigating the Xoom with the other.
As you saw in the video, there is no button on the Xoom and the bottom bit becomes the nav/notification area- whatever your orientation is. Even though the unit is currently in beta, it felt incredibly zippy. The dual-core 1.0GHz Tegra processor along with 1GB RAM certainly helped with that. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Tab, app are specifically designed for tablet usage with Honeycomb as you saw with the Gmail and YouTube app.
[Update] Semi-good news for people in the region is that Honeycomb finally brings some Arabic support to Androids You will be able to read Arabic without any issues but writing in it will still require a third party application. Come on Google! Motorola is keeping the Xoom free of any interface add-ons and tweaks giving you a pure Google experience which will certainly help bring updates to it quickly.
I asked Motorola if they have a 7″ version planned for the Xoom and while the response I received was a “no comment”, I feel that they probably already have one but want to see the market reaction with the 10 inch version before deciding on what to do with it.