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Tablet deathmatch: Motorola Xoom vs. Apple iPad

Galen Gruman | March 4, 2011
As Apple commences shipping of the iPad 2, the first viable Android competitor packs a punch does battle with the original iPad.

The iPad and Xoom performed similarly in their network usage, both on Wi-Fi and over 3G. The iPad uses the AT&T network, whereas the Xoom uses Verizon Wireless. The AT&T network is usually faster but less available, whereas the Verizon network is less speedy but more broadly available. I did find that the Xoom usually received emails and updated its calendar slightly after the iPad, even though both were connected to the same Wi-Fi network and pulling from the same IMAP, Google, and Exchange servers.

For battery performance, I found that the iPad lasted nearly twice as long as the Xoom–9 or 10 hours versus the Xoom's 5 or 6–in regular use with Wi-Fi enabled. In light use, the Xoom stretched to 8 hours, while the iPad ran 11 hours.

Device hardware. The iPad's enclosure design featuring glass and aluminum is much classier than the Xoom's black blockiness. The iPad's aluminum, though, can feel dangerously slippery (I always keep it in a sleeve or case), whereas the textured plastic of the Xoom is more grippable. Both devices are equivalent in weight and size. The Xoom has no physical switch to turn off its ringer as the iPad does, and its low-profile volume switches are hard to find, hard to see given they are black like the case, and don't give much tactile feedback when pressed. Neither device has an LED indicator to indicate whether it's powered on.

The Xoom's power button is on the back of the case—not a great spot. It's easy to lose track of which side is up on the Xoom, so good luck finding the power button; of course, it's not visible while you're using the tablet. The iPad's power button (at top) is easier to locate.

The Xoom offers more hardware features than the iPad. There's a rear-facing camera that can take still and motion pictures, as well as a front-facing camera that can be used with the Google Talk IM app. (As noted, the iPad 2 should erase this advantage.)

The Xoom also has a MicroUSB port and a Mini HDMI port. The Mini HDMI port lets you connect to a monitor or TV to mirror the Xoom's display through an optional cable. By contrast, the iPad's optional VGA connector displays only the contents of applications that enable video-out; you cannot mirror the iPad's display. (However, the iPad 2 will support such mirroring via both VGA and HDMI video-out adapters.) The utility of the Xoom's MicroUSB port is limited: It can't be used to charge the Xoom, as it can on most smartphones; the Xoom has a proprietary power connector. All the MicroUSB port can be used for, at least today, is to connect a USB keyboard, assuming you have a MicroUSB-to-USB adapter. There is no MicroUSB port on the iPad (or iPad 2), but the US$35 Apple Camera Connection kit ( adds a USB connector and SD card dongle for use with digital cameras (not other USB devices). The iPad too uses a proprietary power adapter that also serves as its sync cable; but tens of millions of iPods and iPhones also use it (so you can share cables and adapters), whereas only the Xoom seems to use its particular power connector.


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