Motorola Xoom Tablet Review - Android 3.0 Arrives

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Considering the widespread success Apple has enjoyed with the iPad and its successor, the iPad 2, it's hard not to compare a new tablet to these two (already successful) tablets. In many ways, you'll find the Xoom has similar physical specifications to both generations of iPads.

The Motorola Xoom measures approximately 9.81 x 6.61 x 0.51 inches and weighs 1.61 pounds. For comparison, the Apple iPad 2 measures 9.5 x 7.31 x 0.34 inches and weighs 1.33-1.35 pounds depending on model. When we first picked up the Xoom, we thought it felt a bit heavy. Other people we handed the tablet to made similar remarks. As a result, we were a bit surprised to discover that the Xoom is not really any heavier than the first-generation iPad, which weighs 1.6 pounds. The first-generation iPad and the Xoom also have similar thicknesses: 0.51 (Xoom) and 0.5 (iPad). In terms of width and height, the first-generation iPad measures 9.56 x 7.47 inches.

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While both generations of the iPad have 9.7-inch displays, the Xoom offers a larger 10.1-inch display that also offers a higher resolution than the iPad (1280 x 800 for the Xoom compared to 1024x768 for the iPad 1 and iPad 2). In addition, the Xoom's display features a widescreen aspect ratio which is especially nice when watching movies on the tablet.

During our testing period, the Xoom's screen attracted a fair number of fingerprints, though they never seemed to affect the responsiveness of the display. Viewing angles on the Xoom's display were very good. In fact, we were still able to read the Xoom's display at nearly a 90 degree angle to the screen.

Although you can use the Xoom in either portrait or landscape mode by simply rotating the tablet, its natural orientation is landscape mode. When held in landscape mode, you'll find the volume buttons on the upper left edge of the tablet. The top edge of the tablet houses a sliding door that reveals a SIM card slot and microSD slot. The SIM card slot is designed to be used once the tablet has been upgraded with 4G LTE support.

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Although the Xoom doesn't support 4G LTE straight out of the box, Verizon Wireless has said it will issue a free 4G LTE upgrade at some point in the future. To upgrade the tablet, you will have to ship it to Motorola. The upgrade process is expected to take about six business days. Once upgraded and assuming you're in a 4G coverage area, Verizon Wireless claims you'll get average downlink speeds of 5-12Mbps and 2-5Mbps uplink. For more information about the upgrade process, you can visit the Xoom upgrade page where you'll find a Getting Ready Guide and FAQ page.

It's unknown when an update will be available from Motorola that will unlock the microSD card slot, but at least we know such an update is in the works. In the meantime, you'll be able to use the 32GB of internal storage found on this tablet. Also, if you're too anxious to wait, don't forget that there is an unofficial kernel available on xda-developers.

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On the bottom edge of the Xoom, you'll find a microUSB port, HDMI output, and charging port. As you may notice from the list of box contents, the Xoom comes with both a data cable and a charger. You can only charge the tablet using the charger that accompanies the Xoom – the microUSB port is only used for data transfer, not for charging.

The Power/sleep button is located on the back of the Xoom near the rear camera. This rear camera is a 5 megapixel camera with dual LED flash. There's a speaker between the camera and the power button on the back of the tablet. Just above the display, you'll find the Xoom's front-facing 2.0 megapixel webcam.

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