A capable tablet that is held back by aging software.
The Xoom 2 isn’t exactly a powerful beast, but for the most part was able to complete our benchmarks without too much of trouble. SunSpider 0.9.1 produced a total result of 3,345.4ms, a marked improvement over the original Xoom’s score of 2,190. Tests in Quadrant were a bit of a let down, with a final score of 2,248 which fell behind the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 which earned a score of 2,677 and the Transformer Prime which scored 4,120. Glbenchmark scored a lonely 2,335 so any high-graphic apps or games that you play might fall into the 15fps category.
Screen and Touch Interface
What made the original Xoom a bit of a downer was its ridiculously glossy screen that made it difficult to use in bright lighting. The screen on the Xoom 2 still picks up a bit of glare, however it’s much less noticeable than on the original. The resolution is still stuck at 1,200 x 800 but the IPS panel now allows for better viewing angles and is good at making most pictures and videos appear bright and vibrant. In direct sunlight the Xoom 2 still had a bit of a hurdle with properly displaying text and images, so I had to crank the brightness way up in order to see the screen clearly.
As the Xoom 2 runs Android Honeycomb, there’s a variety of performance issues that crop up as you use the tablet. The most noticeable is the awkward pauses that appear when you try to switch between certain apps using the in-built task manager. While the tablet had no issues running fairly taxing 3D games and apps, it’s puzzling why a fairly simple task like multitasking seems to bring it to a crawl. And since you can’t swipe away applications to quit them like you can in ICS, you’re often left with a long list of programs running in the background, so invest in a proper task manager or learn to reboot your tablet often. The tablet also takes a while to switch from portrait to landscape, and if done from the homescreen tends to refresh most of the widgets each time, which is cumbersome.
Camera and Multimedia
The 5 megapixel rear camera takes noticeably better pictures than my iPad 2, excelling mostly at outdoor photography where colors though muted at times, came through quite clearly. In low light conditions with the flash turned on the images weren’t so flattering, so it’s clear that tablet photography still has quite a way to go. The other downside of the camera is that you have to completely rely on its auto-focus; you can’t tap a section of the screen to indicate what you want to focus on, so wave goodbye to whipping out your Xoom 2 and rapidly taking shots. The front-facing camera is really just best for video calls, as there’s precious little that you can do with its 1.3 megapixel resolution. Video recording was sub-par, mostly due to the camera having to constantly focus on objects, so anything that moves too quickly will produce a noticeable blur in the final video.
Video and audio playback worked quite well on the Xoom 2, with HD video hugging the screen for an almost letterbox-free viewing experience. Streaming content off my network was a breeze from the bundled Twonky player, and listening to music on the Xoom 2 was also quite pleasant, though as mentioned before the inbuilt speakers tend to direct sound away from the user because of their placement.
The Xoom 2 has an improved battery life from its predecessor, and with an HD clip looping on medium brightness with Wi-Fi on, I was able to squeeze about six and a half hours from a full charge before I was warned to plug in my charger. That’s not as amazing as say what the iPad can pull off, but it’s decent enough for every day use as well as on the go. The unit mostly stayed cool during usage and tests, though I did notice a slightly warmer patch towards the back near the bottom of the unit. Bear in mind, this was after a good four hours of non-stop use, so it’s not something that I’m going to hold against the Xoom 2.
After everything, the Xoom 2 is against all odds, a fairly decent Android tablet. Yes, it does have some flaws, but compared to the original this is a welcome upgrade. If Motorola can finally get around to pushing ICS to the Xoom 2, then it might actually turn a few heads. As it stands, the Xoom 2 is a capable tablet that is held back by the limited storage and sluggish OS.