Now that Apple has shown the way with the iPad, quite a few other manufacturers are scrambling to join the tablet revolution by launching their own products targeting this same sector of the computing market. One such highly-publicized product is the Motorola Xoom, which was announced in January and hit the streets on 24 February.
A tablet refers to a new type of hand-held computer, exemplified by the Apple iPad. Smaller than a laptop or netbook, but larger than a smartphone, a tablet is thought by many to be the future of internet browsing on the go. Certainly that would appear to be true based upon the runaway success of the iPad, so this explains the eagerness of others, in this case Motorola, to get in on the act.
The Motorola Xoom has attracted special attention through being the first tablet computer to be based on the new 'Honeycomb' version of the Android operating system. Honeycomb is version 3.0 of Android, which is an open source OS pioneered by Google that has gained a firm following among smartphone users. Compared to other incarnations of Android, Honeycomb is said to be optimized for use on a tablet.
The Xoom is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 2.1 GHz dual-core CPU chip, and comes fitted with 1 GB of RAM memory, along with 32 GB of onboard flash memory for storage of data. Additional data storage is possible by using the Xoom's SD card port or the USB 2.0 port. The device's 10.1 inch display has a resolution of 1280×800 pixels and supports HD video at 1080p. There is also an HDMI port, which enables connection to a TV.
In accordance with the idea that tablets should share many of the features of smartphones, the Xoom has a camera. In actual fact, it has two cameras: a 5 megapixel stills and video cam facing to the rear of the device, plus a 2 megapixel webcam facing forwards.
When it comes to connectivity to the internet, buyers of the Xoom have two options. One version of the Xoom has 3G connectivity, and US buyers of this version are required to take out a contract with Verizon. A second version of the device will come with Wi-Fi connectivity but this is not due for release until later in 2011.
One serious drawback of the Apple iPad is that it cannot display web pages that use the Adobe Flash player, for example YouTube. The Xoom, on the other hand, is fully Flash compatible. As one would expect given that Android is a Google creation, the Xoom comes pre-loaded with the Google Chrome browser.
In common with the iPad and other such devices, the Xoom does not waste front panel space with any hardware buttons. The entire front is taken up by the screen, and text input is via a virtual, onscreen keyboard that appears when necessary.
Based on its specification, the Motorola Xoom would seem to have a good chance of making some serious waves, but it is of course fighting both Apple's 'cool' factor, and also the fact that a souped-up iPad 2 is on the way, Which is likely to give Apple the advantage again before very long.