Motorola Xoom Review: The First Honeycomb Tablet Arrivesby Anand Lal Shimpi on February 23, 2011 11:57 PM EST
A PC-like Tablet Browser
When I reviewed the iPad I wrote that web browsing was the killer app for the device. Today, with a healthy number of pretty impressive apps I don’t believe the iPad has to exclusively rely on web browsing to sell itself but it remains an important part of the tablet experience.
As such, Google focused very heavily on the browsing experience on Honeycomb and I can honestly say it’s better than what you get with the iPad today. There’s the performance first and foremost, the Honeycomb browser is unbelievably fast and it’s running on the fastest SoC shipping today: NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 (T20).
We’ve put together a new suite of web page loading tests that I’d like to debut in this article. The pages are served from a machine on the local network (the device never has to talk to the public internet) and thus this is a best case scenario for web page loading performance. The pages are automatically timed as they load. The browser cache is cleared before the first load and then each page is loaded another 7 times. I repeat the process on a total of 6 web pages and present an average of all of the times. The web pages tested are the front pages of AnandTech, Amazon, CNN, Engadget, Reddit and NY Times.
It’s not all about performance though, functionally the Honeycomb Browser is a huge improvement over anything else out there: it supports tabbed browsing. I can’t stress how much better this makes browsing on a tablet. Switching between tabs is just as easy as it is on your PC or Mac, you just use your finger instead of a mouse or keyboard combination.
Google also allows an optional experimental UI that does away with the conventional controls altogether and gives you a popup dial that only appears when you swipe your thumb in either the left or right margins of the screen.
There’s full support for incognito mode and Find on Page, just like you’d find in Chrome on the desktop.
In terms of standards compliance, the Honeycomb Browser passes the Acid3 test but only manages a score of 195 (+3 bonus points) in the HTML5 test.
This is the future of tablet apps. As tablet hardware becomes more powerful we’ll end up running full desktop applications on these devices. This is only the beginning and Google clearly gets where it’s headed.