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The thought of a real Android tablet contender has stirred the tech world for months. Sporting a 1GHz dual-core processor, a 10.1-inch display, and Android 3.0, the Motorola XOOM should be the one to fill those shoes. Sitting a bit on the pricy side, you can now make a XOOM tablet your very own for $600 and a two-year agreement with Verizon or for $800 contract-free. After all of the wait, is the Motorola XOOM worth the chunk of change, and is it enough to knock the Apple iPad from its pedestal?

I've spent a couple hours with my XOOM tablet and here are some of my thoughts thus far:

  • The XOOM has a very nice, hefty feel to it. Seeing all of the videos and pictures, I never imagined it would be as heavy as it actually is. Weighing in at 25.75 oz, I was very surprised the first time I picked it up. The matte metal backing and weight gives the tablet a nice, solid feel and it is easily held with one hand. However, I imagine holding it for a prolonged amount of time may become tiresome.
  • With a 1280 by 800 pixel resolution, the 10.1-inch display is very nice, clear, and bright. Even when zooming in, letters stay decently clear. When it comes to some applications that aren't specifically made for tablets, I have noticed a little pixelation, but it's not major. The XOOM's display could also double as your bathroom mirror, and it attracts fingerprints worse than any device I've ever owned. I'll definitely be keeping a microfiber cloth on hand at all times.

(After about 30 minutes of use, I cleaned the left half of the display.)

  • My main reason for getting the XOOM was to get some hands-on time with Android 3.0 – or Honeycomb –  in its intended environment, and to see what Google has been up to lately. So far, I'm very impressed. The user interface does take a little getting used to, but it is very polished and should be easy for previous Android users to feel at home. For first timers, it may be a little complex. I can't say I'm a fan of the on-screen buttons over physical or capacitive, but I do enjoy the fact that they are dynamic and change to match orientation.
  • Thanks to the 1GHz Tegra 2 dual-core processor, the XOOM is extremely fast. I've experienced no lag whatsoever and everything has been very fluid so far. I, of course, did experience a slight slow down when I first powered up the device, but that was due to it downloading all of my purchased and previously installed applications – understandable. After two minutes or so, it was back to its blazing fast pace.
  • Battery life has been fairly impressive. In comparison to my iPad, it doesn't last nearly as long, but with true multitasking and all the tinkering I've been doing, that is to be expected. It seems to be on par with what I experienced with the Galaxy Tab. I haven't been able to put it to the true test yet, but I will include that in my full review.

  • The most impressive part of the XOOM and Honeycomb so far is without a doubt the web browsing experience. The browser is very much like the desktop version of Chrome and feels like you are browsing from a PC, not a tablet. The easily accessible tabs at the top, page load times (signal strength obviously a factor), and how fast and responsive the panning and zooming are is simply awesome.
  • The 5-megapixel camera is decent, nothing more. The images I took with it were somewhat fuzzy and there was little control over auto-focus. The flash wanted to go off even in a well lit room, and being dual-LED, the flash is very bright. The 2-megapixel front-facing camera is better than other front-facing cameras I've used, but it still isn't anything to write home about.
  • The fact that the XOOM uses a proprietary port to charge is a bit of a nuisance. Considering it has a much larger capacity battery than phones though, I'm sure Motorola made the right decision. Waiting hours for your XOOM to charge would probably be more of a pain than trying to keep up with the proprietary charger.
  • Something that has started to bug me the more I use the XOOM is the fact that the power button is on the back of the device, not along the edge. When you already have it in hand, this is not a problem. Your index finger just falls into place over the power button. When it is laying on a table and you want to check why the notification LED is flashing, you will have to pick it up or tilt it so you can press the power button. It's annoying and something that could have been avoided, but not a major problem.

The full Motorola Xoom review is coming, so stay tuned!


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