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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.

Contacts and calendars. Both the iPad and Xoom offer three of the same calendar views: day, week, and month. But only the iPad supports the list (agenda) view. Moving among months is easy on both, as is shifting between weeks on the Xoom, and both can display multiple calendars simultaneously. The iPad makes it slightly easier to switch through week or month views, thanks to on-screen buttons and sliders—but this is a minor advantage. The two devices also have comparable recurring-event capabilities.

Both the Xoom and iPad can send invitations to others as you add appointments, but whereas the iPad invitations are sent immediately, the Xoom invitations take tens of minutes to show up. On the iPad, your invitations for Exchange accounts show up in your calendar as a pop-up; you can accept them there within the full context of your other appointments. For both Exchange and other email accounts, you can open the .ics invitation files in Mail, then add them to the calendar of your choice. On the Xoom, the Calendar app automatically adds Exchange invitations to your calendar with Maybe status, which is not apparent until you open the appointment. You can open Exchange invitations in the Email app, as well as accept or decline the invitation. But you can't open .ics invitations sent to POP or IMAP accounts.

Both the iPad and the Xoom have capable Contacts apps, but it's easier to navigate through your entries on the iPad. You can jump to names by tapping a letter, such as "T" to get to people whose last names begin with "T," or search quickly for someone in the Search field by tapping part of the name. On the Xoom, a blue box appears to the side of the contacts list as you begin scrolling, and if you drag it, you can scroll through the letters of the alphabet to find the contact you seek. It's not as simple as the iPad approach, and its "secret handshake" nature means many users won't know it exists.

On the iPad, to search your contacts, drag up above the first contact to reveal the Search box. On the Xoom, you can search your contacts if you click the Search button. You can also designate users as favourites, to put them in a shorter Favorites list. The iPad has no similar favourites capability.

The iPad supports email groups, but you can't create them on the iPad; they must be synced from your computer's contacts application. And you can't pick a group in the iPad's Mail address fields—instead, you select a group, then open it up to select just one member, repeating this step to add more names. It's a really dumb approach to groups. The Xoom doesn't support groups.


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