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Terrier Tech: Motorola Xoom

A tablet that’s a strong iPad alternative…for now

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In the video above, “Terrier Tech” hosts Warren Towers and Courtney Bogard review the Motorola Xoom from Verizon. Photo by Vernon Doucette

During the summer months, BU Today is revisiting some of our favorite stories from the past year. This week we feature the video series “Terrier Tech.” Cohosts Warren Towers, Courtney Bogard, and special guests give you the lowdown on the apps and gadgetry making a splash in the mobile market.

This week “Terrier Tech” reviews the Motorola Xoom. The first question that comes to mind looking at the tablet is: “can it compete with the iPad?” The answer is yes, but there are some important caveats.

At $599—either for the 3G model with a two-year contract from Verizon or a Wi-Fi only model—the Motorola Xoom is not cheap. But it is fast, despite a slow boot time, and serves well as a vehicle for the simultaneously robust and user-friendly Android Honeycomb operating system. We enjoyed the look and feel of the OS, and as one would expect from any Android product, Google apps are as impressive on Honeycomb as they are on Android-powered phones. The apps deliver excellent integration with the OS, particularly with “widgets,” those small programs that can display your inbox or calendar instantly without having to launch the individual programs.

Taking pictures with any tablet is a clunky experience, but the Xoom’s photos are superior to those you get from the Apple iPad 2. The Xoom’s 5.0 megapixel camera dwarfs the iPad’s grainy counterpart.

The overall browsing experience of the Xoom is also particularly noteworthy. While the iPad 2’s Mobile Safari offers a smoother experience, Honeycomb’s browser—complete with tabbed browsing, support for Adobe Flash, and a well-designed on-screen keyboard—feels and operates more like a full-fledged browser than a mobile version.

However, when it comes to ergonomics and design, Apple leads the way. Put the Xoom in your lap and you quickly realize that the speakers, power button, and headphone jack are not designed for optimal placement. The sound is muffled, and headphone cables can easily interfere with the screen, which offers neither the brightness nor the contrast that the iPad does.

On the bright side, in an age of perpetual obsolescence (think Apple’s iPhone), the Motorola Xoom should enjoy a fairly long shelf life. Motorola is generously offering a free 4G LTE upgrade to the Xoom later this year, although the process will require owners to mail the tablet back to the manufacturer. Current Xoom owners will also be able to expand memory via the tablet’s microSD slot in the near future.

“The Xoom is a great sign of things to come for Android tablets,” says “Terrier Tech” host Warren Towers. “There is some solid stuff going on here. But I don’t expect the cult of Apple to abandon their iPads any time soon.”

Want “Terrier Tech” to review a gadget? Post it in the comments section below or DM us @BUToday.

Alan Wong can be reached at alanwong@bu.edu. Joseph Chan can be reached at joechan@bu.edu. Aaron L’Heureux can be reached at aaronlh@bu.edu.

This article was originally published on April 19, 2011.

3 Comments

3 Comments on Terrier Tech: Motorola Xoom

  • Kat on 04.19.2011 at 10:34 am

    These videos make my day.

    I literally jump for joy every time there is a Terrier Tech segment in BU Today. Watching them make my mornings! Good job!!!

  • Justin Wu Chang on 04.28.2011 at 8:26 pm

    Help

    How can I be a part of this reviewing process?

    • Zack on 02.05.2012 at 1:26 am

      I think I found your wallet on the ground in allston justin. I just googled your name and saw this and the BU card in the wallet. Gimme a call 617 504 4225

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