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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  • Impulses - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    You know, if this were almost any other site I'd agree... But I actually like the way Anand constantly puts things in context by looking at the big picture and comparing products to their competition in the market. Reply
  • Impulses - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Oh and just for the record, I'm a big fan of Android, my phone's an EVO, and the only Apple product I've ever had is an iPod touch (16GB - 2nd gen)... I liked it as a music/video player, and a gaming device; but I don't see myself buying anything Apple in the foreseeable future. Reply
  • Azethoth - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Ugh. Please do not ever stop comparing a product against its competitors. I want to know that some feature sux / kills vs the corresponding feature for competitors. Reply
  • tiredad - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Compare Anand to Engadget. Engadget compare things to Apple products in a condescending way that i find patronising. It probably comes from their desire to wip up the pro and anti camps and thus sustain interest. Anand, on the other hand, compares products in an appropriate way that is informative to the reader. Comparison gives context and without context, value judgements are meaningless; done right, comparisons are essential.

    I love this site because it seems to simply love good technology irrespective of who makes it. I especially love that there is no arbitrary scoring system - you can read something and make your own judgement.
    Reply
  • wumpus - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    As long as Apple is the competition, Anandtech should compare to it.

    What I'm missing (gave up on, didn't see it in the long list for battery life) is the Nook Color. Since you can replace the software with honeycomb, this is pretty much the best deal for wifi-only tablets around. I guess the question is: "how far do you want to carry it, anyway?"
    Reply
  • Sam125 - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    These tablets or as I like to call them: Smartphone 2.0 is looking pretty attractive but I'm still left wondering if a tablet would be better served by using an Atom+Ion or Ontario SOC. Reply
  • peastham - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Sure it can...works for me with a stock cable. (HDMI just passes right through the dock.) Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Hmm it doesn't seem to be working for me - can you share your configuration (what display/other items in the HDMI chain)?

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

    I actually can use my iPad outside. It's obviously not a kindle, but it's surprisingly good. The iPad is actually better than my transflective Tablet PC (Motion LE 1700), exactly because it has tons of contrast and great viewing angles.

    The color shifting on the Xoom depicted in the review is shockingly bad. That it performs so bad outdoors tells me one thing: I won't buy it. I can't wait to see the LG and the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

    Thanks for the review, great reading!
    Reply
  • tekzor - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    moto has shocked me with the quality of this product.
    this is reviews reminds me of a similar experience I had on the samsung galaxy tab. The UI is updated for the tablet user but the experience is still not there yet. I will just have to stick to my ipad and if I want tegra 2 I have the viewsonic gtab and the good folks at XDA. Yes the screen is garbage on the gtab, however for the price($375), you get a tegra 2 and flash!! I feel the xoom should of costed $150 more than the gtab.
    Reply

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