Final Words

I have to say, this is a lot better than I expected. Honeycomb feels a lot like Google’s take on iOS without sacrificing any of what makes Android unique. It’s a healthy combination of the appliance-like iOS without giving up any of the user facing customization & flexibility that Android users love. If you’re a die hard iOS user then I don’t think Honeycomb will tempt you, but if you’re undecided or you can appreciate both then Honeycomb may actually push you over towards Google.

I’m impressed with what Google has done with the UI. It’s a definite modernization of what Android is all about. There are elements of the Android UI we’re used to within Honeycomb but they aren’t all that prevalent at the surface. This looks and feels like a brand new OS for Google.

Am I more likely to use the Xoom than the iPad? Yes. The hardware is faster but more importantly, the software is better suited for multitasking. I’m a bigger fan of Honeycomb’s multitasking UI & notification system compared to the double-tap-home and passive notifications you get with the iPad and iOS. I can be more productive with the Xoom than I can be with the iPad as a result. I don’t believe Honeycomb’s UI is perfect by any means, it’s just more multitasking oriented than iOS is at this point.

There’s definitely room for improvement. The fact that there are still choppy animations within the OS is perplexing, I've asked Google for an explanation but I've yet to get an answer on that one.

I’d like to see the ability to scroll to reveal more apps in the task list for starters. I almost feel like we’re headed for an OS X dock-like setup where you have a permanent row of your active apps across a portion of the screen and you just tap to switch between them. This whole tapping twice to select a new app thing has to be short lived, it’s not an efficient use of fingers.

Elements of Honeycomb do feel rushed however. The stability of the OS/apps, the missing SD card support and random OS quirks come to mind. As a result I'd recommend waiting for at least the first Honeycomb update before pulling the trigger on one of these tablets.

As far as the Xoom itself is concerned, I like the hardware. It feels good, I’m less worried about it slipping out of my hands and onto concrete and it’s full featured. Battery life is clearly competitive with the iPad as well, which is impressive given how much faster the thing is by comparison.

The screen isn’t terrible but it’s not the most impressive thing around, which is about the only complaint I have regarding the hardware. Had this been a $499 tablet I wouldn’t be too concerned but we’re talking about $800 here - I’d expect a better quality display at this price point, especially considering the price premium is really for 32GB of cheap NAND and smartphone hardware. I appreciate that we have a higher-than-iPad resolution, but I also want a higher-than-iPad contrast ratio.

Overall I am very excited to see Honeycomb tablets hit the market. Last year was mostly a waste when it came to non-iPad tablets, but this year looks to be quite the opposite.

This conclusion is obviously unfair to Apple given the rumored impending release of the iPad 2, but if I had to buy a tablet today it’d probably be the Xoom.

If I wasn’t insane however, I’d wait to see what was being announced on March 2nd first.

Battery Life
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  • GotThumbs - Friday, March 18, 2011 - link

    The platform is not that old. Apple just took their existing ois from the itouch and made it bigger. This is a whole new ballgame. Early adopters should understand their will be some hiccups...

    Glad to hear the WIFI only version is coming out March 27th for 599.00 This brings the competition directly to ipad and ipad2. My boss offered to buy me the ipad2 and I told him I only want an ADAM or a Xoom. An ipad would be a waste of money....I need a business tablet. Not one whose product is so proprietary...that you can't even load an app unless its through their store....how controlling is that?
    Reply
  • Thermogenic - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Samsung changed some of the basic internals of the system (I believe mainly to do with the filesystem and location of certain files). This makes it harder on them to release updates and also causes compatibility problems with certain applications.

    For me, I would only stick to the high end HTC and Motorola phones - they have the proven track record of updates. If you really want the latest and greatest for some reason, then you will want the Nexus line of phones.
    Reply
  • ph00ny - Monday, March 07, 2011 - link

    Not entirely true. Most custom froyo roms were based on galaxy s from overseas. Look at captivate, AT&T's froyo update just came out and the same phone offered through canadian carrier had froyo for quite some time now Reply
  • chocks - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    "Android however did it the simplest way possible: tap home and run what you want to run next." Pre-Honeycomb Android has press-and-hold on the Home button which brings up a list of recently-used apps and can be used to switch between running tasks. Has had this since the first release I think. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Woops, you're right :) That's very much a precursor to what Google did in Honeycomb, and tap-and-hold home is now out.

    Updated!

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Thermogenic - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    It's not a true tablet, but the NOOKcolor is a nice device for the money. If you are willing to do a little dirty work (mainly writing to a microsd card and booting it - very easy), you get a very basic tablet with a very nice screen for $250.

    I imagine for most users who use their tablet for web browsing, facebook, twitter, and youtube, that's plenty and a great bargain.

    I guarantee there will be a usable version of Honeycomb running on it within six weeks. There is already a functional version, although with a decided lack of applications and very unoptimized.
    Reply
  • wumpus - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    I can't imagine anyone else competing with a wifi only tablet. My guess is that there are two reasons to avoid releasing such: First, you can overcharge and let the consumer pay the subsidy (and then some) back to the carrier. Second: nobody tries to compare it to the nook. Reply
  • Enormously Hatworthy - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    I read so many of those tech blogs that sometimes I forget what a real review looks like. Good work.

    Some of those benchmark results are pretty odd.

    I wonder if the disparity between the Optimus 2X and the Xoom might in some way be related to the dual-core support in Honeycomb? The optimus is running on 2.2 which I understand has limited (if any) support for multiple cores.

    Maybe the benchmark apps are showing some measure of incompatibility with the new code? Just a wild guess.
    Reply
  • cj100570 - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Just once I'd like to read a review of any piece of mobile tech where the reviewer stuck to reviewing the hardware in his/her hands instead of constantly comparing it to an Apple product. For Christs sake, enough is enough already! And don't give me that "Apple Set The Bar" BS. I'm not buying what you're selling! I've owned 3 generations of iPhones, an iMac, and 2 MacBooks so I'm very familiar with Apple products and I have great respect for them. But the simple fact of the matter is that not everyone wants to live the iOS/OS X lifestyle and when they read a review of non Apple products I'm quite sure they don't want to see Apple brought up every other sentence. Reply
  • Enormously Hatworthy - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    It is annoying but whether we like iOS/iPad or not (and I don't, to be honest) it is the market leader in tablets right now. It's the frame of reference for buyers.

    I think they'd be doing their readers a disservice if they didn't make the comparison.

    Notice that in laptop/desktop reviews you'll see scarcely a mention of Apple products (unless they're talking about size and weight).
    Reply

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