Motorola Xoom 2

The Good
  • Great design, balancing looks & ergonomics
  • Crisp, clear screen
  • Good battery life
The Bad
  • Limited internal storage, with no expansion options
  • Too expensive
  • Screen very prone to smudging
  • No confirmed update to Ice Cream Sandwich
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

Whilst the Xoom 2 is a solid improvement on the original, it doesn’t take the lead against new age quad-core tablets like the Transformer Prime or the new and improved iPad.

R5,789.99
Buy Now

Xoom 2 [Review]

With the Xoom 2, Motorola have delivered a solid improvement on the original Xoom tablet. Whilst the original Xoom marked the first tablet to be released with Honeycomb, the Xoom 2 arrives at a point where the tablet market is dominated by Apple’s iPad 2 and the Transformer Prime.

So how does the Xoom 2 fare against these benchmark tablets?

Design & Features

With its super thin profile of just 8.8mm and weighing in at a very competitive 599g, the Xoom 2 definitely comes close to challenging the iPad 2. Overall, the Xoom 2 feels very well put together, with little flex in the cover and a soft plastic edging, surrounding a gun-metal coloured back panel. The matte plastic is superbly grippy, while the metallic look lend a bit of class – overall it’s a great balance of looks and ergonomics.

Interestingly, Motorola has given the corners of the Xoom 2 and angular slant – whilst this didn’t really impact the user experience in our tests, it is good to see Motorola trying to differentiate itself from the standard iPad themed tablet designs that have almost become industry standard.

The only physical buttons on the outside of the Xoom 2 are the volume control and the on-off button. They’re both slightly rubberised and set quite low into the body. The top ridge contains two stereo speakers and the 3.5mm headphone jack and on at the bottom you’ll find micro-USB and mini HDMI ports.

The back of the Xoom 2 features a 5 megapixel camera – luckily Motorola realised that having the camera over to one side was not the best placement and have moved it into the middle this time around. The camera can also capture video at 720p and 30fps, but its slow autofocus make for somewhat subpar results.

Hardware

Inside, the Xoom 2 features a bumped up 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM. Whilst we’re no longer bowled over by dual-core processors since the release of the Asus Transformer Prime, the Xoom 2 easily copes with intense multi-tasking and was able to switch between open apps without hesitation. It’s also got enough juice to tackle demanding 3D games.

In addition there’s 16GB of storage. If you want optimal use from your tablet, we’d consider 16GB as the bare minimum storage capacity on any tablet. Unfortunately, the Xoom 2 is not available in higher-capacity alternatives and Motorola has done away with optional memory expansion slots via microSD which leaves the Xoom 2 aggravatingly limited in terms of on-board storage.

Currently the Xoom 2 is Wi-Fi only and does not offer 3G connectivity.

Display

The 10.1 inch screen on the Xoom 2 is made from Gorilla Glass, which promises to be more scratch resistant but unfortunately smudges even easier than conventional tablet screens. And we mean very easily!
The 1280 x 800 pixels do a good job of rendering clear and vibrant colours and the IPS panel technology ensures wide viewing angle.

Software

Unfortunately, the Xoom 2 currently runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb – the version of Android designed to run on tablets before Ice Cream Sandwich came along. There are rumours of a pending update to ICS so we’re keeping our fingers crossed…

If you’re not too worried about which version of Android you’re running, then the Honeycomb experience on the Xoom 2 has a lot to offer. You have full customisability of your home screen, and can move apps around depending on your preference much like you would on an iPad. The bottom of the screen contains handy navigational buttons, allowing you to go back, switch to the home screen, or display a carousel of currently active apps and tabs.

Whilst the quad-core Transformer Prime obviously provides more processing power, paired up against a similar sized and specced Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Xoom 2’s overall responsiveness and speed comes out slightly on top.The Vellamo web browser offers up some very good web browsing with a clean, simple to use interface and full support for tabbed browsing.

The Xoom 2 comes pre-loaded with some useful, non-invasive apps such as Quickoffice HD, Twonky and Citrix and you can add media easily via Motorola’s own music streaming app, MotoCast.

Conclusion

The Xoom 2 is a stylish and overall improves update on the original Xoom. However the competition in the Android tablet market has gotten a lot tougher and the advances of the Xoom 2 are not enough to put it ahead of the superb Transformer Prime.

Even ignoring the sub-par processor speeds and outdated operating systems, the Xoom 2 struggles with some additional issues. Key among them is the limiting on-board storage of 16GB, with no additional expandable storage options. This forces users to rely on cloud storage for additional capacity, and without 3G support, accessing your files could become a headache.

Whilst the original Xoom was the best Honeycomb tablet when it was released, it was also the only Honeycomb tablet. With the release of the Transformer Prime, the benchmark for Android tablets has been pushed up significantly and unfortunately the Xoom 2 doesn’t offer enough to put it in the lead.

The Good
  • Great design, balancing looks & ergonomics
  • Crisp, clear screen
  • Good battery life
The Bad
  • Limited internal storage, with no expansion options
  • Too expensive
  • Screen very prone to smudging
  • No confirmed update to Ice Cream Sandwich
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

Whilst the Xoom 2 is a solid improvement on the original, it doesn’t take the lead against new age quad-core tablets like the Transformer Prime or the new and improved iPad.

R5,789.99
Buy Now

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