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After reading my friend Steven O’Grady excellent Xoom review and selling my iPad (1) in anticipation of the iPad 2 announcement, I decided to pick up a Motorola Xoom to test it and possibly keep instead of buying the newer iPad. I was told at Best Buy that their new return policy was 14 days with no restocking fee so I thought it was a good opportunity to test Google/Motorola/Verizon’s last offering. I had similarly bought a Nexus One in early 2010 and abandoned the iPhone in favor of that Android (2.1, then) phone.

I will be returning the Xoom.

I won’t pontificate about it but the geist of it is that I don’t like the hardware. As Steven mentioned there are software issues:

  • Force close (Application crashes) – haven’t had any on my 2.3 Nexus One in 6 months but getting quite a few on Honeycomb
  • Application availability – in my opinion only Gmail & the Browser are great apps today, the rest is mediocre (including the Android Market tablet application offering)
  • Random reboots (though that could be hardware) which I had three of in 5 days, compared with 3 in a year of iPad use
  • UI annoyances – lots of good things but lots of bad choices. Typical in google products

But that’s the software and it can be fixed. My problem was with the hardware:

  • The aspect ratio is just wrong. When the iPad was initially announced I was annoyed at the 4:3 ratio but I am now convinced it’s the right aspect ratio for a tablet. It’s not ideal for movies but it works very well for everything else. The Xoom aspect ratio works great for movie watching but is cumbersome for anything else. It’s too wide in landscape mode and it’s too long for portrait mode. It also make the tablet awkward to hold
  • It’s too heavy. I realize it’s only a few ounces heavier than the Adversary but it really feels like a pound of lead strapped on the back of the iPad. That’s how it _feels_.
  • The edges are kinda sharp, it’s not comfortable to hold
  • The screen is nothing to write home about besides being of a higher resolution than the iPad

I said I wouldn’t pontificate so I am keeping it short. There are a lot of good things about the Xoom but the hardware mostly falls short for me and as Steven said, you can’t change the hardware. The Xoom won’t work for me, I will be picking up an iPad 2 next week.

I’ll revisit in a year.