A capable tablet that is held back by aging software.
These days, when a tablet comes across to our offices for a review, I try and feign a little bit of excitement. The truth of the matter is that there’s so little that can change from one tablet to the next, and often I wish I could just double-paste a review and change the names around. But that of course, would be grossly unfair to the fourteen people who read my reviews.
So I try not to roll my eyes slightly when I pick up the Motorola Xoom 2 and let it power up. Another Android tablet just begging to be poked and prodded, hoping to hold my attention for more than ten minutes. To be fair, I could call the Xoom 2 an oversized Razr, but didn’t people call the iPad an oversized iPhone? Look at how that turned out. Apprehensions aside, what you really need to know is that in a market that’s already swimming with Android tablets, is the Xoom 2 worth your time and money?
Build quality & Design
Motorola have really gone out of their way to erase the design mistakes they made with the original Xoom tablet, and the Xoom 2 sports a thinner profile and a lighter build, thanks to a predominantly aluminum backing. The backing provides a sturdy support to the tablet, and is surrounded by a thick black rubber strip that makes it much easier to grip in either hand. The back of the Xoom 2 features a slightly elevated section that houses the rear-facing five megapixel camera and LED flash, along with two slim speakers hidden at the top. It’s strange that Motorola would place the speakers here since they project sound away from the user, even though they are quite loud.
To the right of the Xoom 2 is the power button and volume rocker, buried deep into the rubber grip. The placement of these buttons is extremely awkward, and it’s very easy to power off the tablet at times when you wanted to adjust the volume instead. Even though the buttons have little bumps on them to make them stand out, they can still be a bit of a challenge to locate in a hurry.
At the bottom of the tablet is a connector for the charging / USB cable, as well as a mini-HDMI port. There’s also a plastic flap at the bottom which hides the SIM card slot, and that’s it. Yes, there’s no microSD card or any expansion options here, which is a real surprise. Even though my review model was a 16GB one, I could easily see myself using up that space if I downloaded a few shows or half my music library to the Xoom 2. I know that there’s a push to moving to cloud and streaming services, but I really would have liked the option to have a microSD card on the Xoom 2.
The front of the Xoom 2 is fairly ordinary, with a thick black bezel going around the Gorilla Glass display. There’s a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera as well as a tiny LED indicator for notifications. Overall, the Xoom 2 is a marked improvement from its original in terms of size and weight, and even sports cut-off corners to give it a stylized look from its competitors. The Xoom 2 also has a splash-resistant coating to keep away moisture, but don’t expect the tablet to be completely waterproof.