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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.

Email management. Both devices support multiple accounts and universal inboxes. I prefer the way the Xoom navigates among email accounts: Just tap the account name at the top left of the Email app and a pull-down menu appears listing each account and the Combined Account, which shows a universal inbox. The iPad too has a universal inbox, as well as an inbox for each active account. Below the inboxes are a list of accounts that when opened show all the folders for that account in a nice hierarchical display. I don't think the iPad needs the two lists; the universal inbox followed by the individual accounts would be just as easy and less cluttered. This is a case where the Xoom's UI surpasses that of the iPad.

The Xoom does separate Google email into the separate Gmail app—a longtime Android OS behaviour imposed by Google. Although you must have a Google account to use the Xoom, you don't have to use Gmail if you don't want to.

The iPad has a message threading capability, which organises your emails based on subject; you click an icon to the left of a message header to see the related messages. That adds more clicks to go through messages, but at least finding the messages is substantially easier. (The iPad's iOS 4 lets you disable threading if you don't like it.) The Xoom has no equivalent. Instead, it lets you flag emails, then see all flagged emails via the virtual Starred folder.

Using the basic version of Quickoffice included with the tablet, the Xoom can open PDF files, images, and Office files; after tapping the Attachments link, you get a list of attachments and an option to view or save each one. The iPad's native QuickLook viewer handles a nice range of formats, and it opens attachments with one tap (downloading them if needed at the same time). Of course, on either device, to edit those files you'll need an office app such as Quickoffice Mobile Connect Suite or Documents to Go Premium. The iPad doesn't open Zip files unless you get a third-party app such as the US$1 ZipThat (click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/stat?id=JszivdXnvSA&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=1826&RD_PARM1=http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zipthat/id378373756?mt=8&uo=4&partnerId=30). Neither does the Xoom, even though opening Zip files is a standard capability on Android smartphones.

Both the iPad and Xoom remember the email addresses of senders you reply to, adding them to a database of contacts that they look up automatically as you tap characters into the To and Cc fields. Both devices let you add email addresses to your contacts list, either by tapping them (on the iPad) or long-tapping them (on the Xoom).

 

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