Xoom

I recently bought a Xoom, WiFi version.

This will be my short review about this Xoom.

First of all, this is a Xoom made solely for Google employees. It has the Google logo on it, and a green back side. As far as I know there is no public way to get the device with these colors,

 


 

Android

I received it the day Android 3.2 got released. First thing I did was upgrade from 3.0.1 to 3.1 and then to 3.2.

While Android is a pretty neat OS, it sure isn’t bug free. For example, turning Bluetooth on made my Xoom restart. I also wasn’t able to sync my Gmail account on that Xoom. Depending on the service, it gave different errors. In settings it basically said “unable to connect, try again later”, Latitude said “login failed”, Gmail was endlessly syncing, etc. I tried different WiFi hotspots, without success. As this is an US version and for Google employees I was afraid it would be locked to either US Gmail users or @google.com accounts… However, after a real reboot (and not a restart due to software upgrades) I all of a sudden managed to log in, and everything started syncing. Yay. Perhaps some odd DNS problem? No clue, but it’s working now!

Oh, and as it’s an US version. This means I have a US adapter, but also that updates are directly pushed by Google, and not by Motorola. Thus, latest Android at all times. 🙂 (The EU Xoom is still on 3.0.x)

Buttons

There are only 3 ‘dedicated’/static buttons; power, volume up and volume down.

To compare, Nexus S has power, vol up and down, and the 4 buttons at the bottom, back, settings, search and home.

Which, so far, hasn’t really bothered me. The power button is at the back, easy to click on with your index finger, unless it’s lying down on the table or the tablet is mounted somewhere. The volume buttons are located on the left side but are pretty hard to push. Everything else is through the touch display, and works just fine.

Power

It’s recharging fast. Really fast. I believe I went from 11% battery to 90% in about 2 hours. But the fast recharge comes at a price… You can’t recharge it using the USB connector.

The USB connector is only used to transfer files (something I haven’t figured out how to do yet; apparently I am unable to mount the SDcard, like with my Nexus S). So you’re unable to recharge it “on the go” with for example a USB battery pack, or the USB connector from a car.

I’m using that battery pack to recharge my Nexus S by the way, as the battery dies way too quickly on that phone.

The power plug connector itself is also quite… Thin… And it doesn’t go in all the way. Seems quite breakable.

WiFi version

Do I want a 3G version? Maybe. I can use my Nexus S to tether, and that works just fine (as long as the battery aint dead ;)). But I was also playing with the idea to use that Xoom as GPS device in my car. Which would be easier if it directly had an internet connection. But that would also mean I would have to pay for an additional internet subscription.

Keyboard

The keyboard layout (azerty) in slightly different from the Nexus S (alternative character button for example, is located elsewhere; “-” and “.” are inverted, getting a “?” requires more clicks, etc). Makes it harder to hit the right button and will require to get used to it… Again. Shame though. Wish they had roughly the same layout as on a phone.

It also supposed to support Swype, but I haven’t tested that yet.

Weight

I don’t really have another tablet to compare it with. I “stole” an iPad 1 from work a few months ago for a couple of days, and I guess it’s roughly the same weight. So yes, it’s annoying to hold in your hands while lying down. It’s simply too heavy. Perhaps a Kindle would be better for this, but a Kindle somehow seems too .. “simple” and doesn’t have all the features/possibilities I’d want.

I also now carry one device too much. I have a phone, which I need with me at all times. But now, a Macbook Pro (with 5ish hours of battery, a real keyboard, all apps I want) or a tablet (longer battery, fake keyboard and limited apps…). I guess I’ll have to force myself to lock my Macbook up and not use it for a whole week, and see if I miss it at the end, or if I manage just fine with the Xoom.

Apps

The Google Market lacks tablet apps. Just like at the launch of the iPad, most of my apps are phone optimised apps, but stretched to fill the tablet’s screen. This includes certain Google apps (like Google Plus). But the apps designed for tablet (maps, latitude, mail, etc) are really neatly done.

But yes, please, Facebook, Twitter, IM+, Shazam … make a tablet app already !

I love mail, it’s simple and well done. And this time IMAP actually works. Clicking get load more messages actually gets new messages (on my Nexus that rarely fetches new mails). It also automatically downloads new messages correctly (on my Nexus mails sometimes only appear in my mail app one hour after I actually received the mail), and sent and deleted mails are correctly stored on the IMAP server (unlike on the Nexus, it’s stored in a local folder, you can’t sync. So I have thousands of mails stuck on my phone. Unable to access them from my Mac, for example).

However, it still doesn’t support IMAP’s IDLE protocol though.

Labs is a cool feature in some of the Google apps. You can enable certain “beta” features in certain apps. For example, the browser, which is a Chrome-like browser, capable of tabbed browsing, can be changed through labs to a full screen browser, controlled through certain finger gestures. Pwetty cool!

 

Speed

It’s a dual core running at 1Ghz. And 1024Mb ram or something. Yet flash is pretty slow sometimes. Other stuff sometimes hangs a bit as well. Generally it’s fast enough, but I wish it was a tiny bit faster… 😉

For example, transferring a big file (1,57Gb) from my Mac to my tablet while playing music (through Google Music) made the music stutter and my screen was unresponsive.

It also doesn’t really play MKVs. I see an image, though it’s distorted and hanging every few seconds. And I’m not getting any sound through. I’m guessing other movie types might work.

Well… Hard to tell for now. Will have to wait and see.

UI

I was a bit scared of the futuristic UI it came shipped with. Some odd modern font, pretty spacy. But I must say I quickly got accustomed to it, and I think the futuristic look is pretty cool now.

Cam

Pretty basic cam. Quality is… average. But I haven’t seen a device that beats the Nokia N8 yet. Especially in dark places.

End

As always I’m very critical. So far I’m happy with the device, but it could’ve been better. Whether I’ll keep using it? It all depends if it manages to find space in my workflow.

As stated above, having a phone, a tablet, a Macbook Pro and a work laptop just… Is too much (I already gave up on my desktop 6ish months ago — have barely turned it on since). I have been playing a lot with the idea to step away from Mac (Lion seems … crappy, and Apple is becoming the new super vilain), but will a corporate Linux laptop (with certain policies) and a tablet make up for the loss of my own Macbook? No idea… Time will show I guess. And I bet I’d enjoy it way more when the apps actually have a “tablet mode”.

All pics are here.

2 comments

  1. Yeri Tiete says:

    Apparently, Google’s Xoom have a random color (the back. I’ve seen green & blue so far) — not sure if that’s the case with the retail version as well.

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