6 Reasons To Love and Hate the Xoom

Staying upbeat for now, the Motorola Xoom sports some of the nicest hardware, both inside and out, that you can find in a tablet right now. The back of the device is matte black, with most of the rear panel comprised of some sort of metal. There is a band of soft rubber at the top, where you will also find two speakers, a five megapixel camera, dual LED flash, and the power/sleep button.

The front of the Xoom defines minimalist. The 10.1-inch, 1280x800 WXGA display has a black bezel going around its entirety, and upon closer inspection you’ll find a two megapixel camera, an ambient light sensor, and a small pinhole microphone. The only physical buttons besides power/sleep on the back are two volume buttons on the left side.

All of the connectivity is located on the bottom of the Xoom (except for the headset jack, which is located on the top above the camera), including power (AC), Micro USB, Micro HDMI and a small gold connector (used for docks and other proprietary peripherals). The Micro USB port can only transfer data, so there’s no charging your Xoom through a computer as far as we can tell. Micro HDMI handles audio and video just fine, and Angry Birds looked terrific a 50-inch Panasonic P50G20 plasma HDTV. The Xoom will not output at 1080p, but the 720p resolution still looked great on a big screen.

Nvidia’s Tegra 2 platform, coupled with 32 GB of storage and 1 GB of RAM, chews through web browsing, YouTube video, and all the applications you can throw at it. The only issues we ran into were HD video related (more on that later). Twitter, Facebook, Skype (chat and voice only, no video) all worked like a charm, and CNN, Pandora, Flixster, and Angry Birds all performed admirably. We also gave the Tegra-optimized version of Fruit Ninja a go, and again the Xoom lived up to the task.

Battery life for the Xoom is, in short, tremendous. Despite our HD video issues, we got just under nine hours on a single charge while watching video and playing graphically intensive games. Granted our method could more scientific, but the Xoom seems to be on par with the original iPad.

The Xoom has a camera on the back that can shoot video and take pictures. The software is packed with features for augmented still photos, and the photo quality is good, and by most accounts very similar to the Atrix 4G on AT&T. While the rear camera is a welcome addition, we can’t imagine many scenario that would have us using a tablet to snap photos or take off-the-cuff video, as that’s that our smaller, more nimble smartphone is for.

The front camera is two megapixels, and the video quality is strictly average, even over WiFi. We feel like this is a software bug more than it’s a hardware issue, and while quality could be better, it certainly got the job done when using Google Talk.