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OK, all you aspiring Android Central bloggers out there. Pay attention, because n46kps is showing you how it's done. You've watched the unboxing, you've seen the benchmarks, and now it's time for the full hands-on review of the Wifi-only Motorola Xoom Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet.

As you'll recall, this is the contract-free version you can officially pick up starting March 27, though some stores obviously are selling them early (this one came from Staples).

So kudos, n64kps. You've done a service for your country.

 

Reader comments

Reader's hands-on review of the Wifi-only Motorola Xoom from Staples

47 Comments

I picked up a wi-fi only Xoom from Staples last night. I have to say I'm probably most impressed by it's web browser. Every site I through at it loaded up fine, even nickjr.com which sometimes crashes my desktop computer. Flash works great. Flash games load up no problem but on some the controls don't work right. Non-tablet apps work great and look great. For the most part you'd never know they weren't made for tablets.There were some disappointments thought. Hulu is blocked and videos that Hulu severs through Xfinity's fancast are blocked. The screen is nice but smudgy and reflective. The Xoom is comfortable in the hand, but a little weighty. I didn't notice it at first, but after holding in one hand for a couple of hours it felt heavy.

Build quality is excellent. It has a great fit and finish to it. All of the buttons are very easy to press and have a nice clicky feel to them. It's different having the lock button on the back of the device however it's placed quite well and won't take more than a few times' use to get the hang of it.

Damn! That thing makes a great mirror. The one GF would love it for fixing her hair... lol

Great job n64kps! Especially appreciate the iPad comparison, not that I would buy an iPad), it's just nice to see them together.

I'm still torn. I cancelled my pre order and will wait for the Toshiba before I decide. The Toshiba has more I/O ports, supposed to adjust to different lighting conditions, and not being from a phone manufacturer-should have less reason to lock the system down and/or add crapware. Hopefully, it'll be pure vanilla Honeycomb. The rumored price of $499 for 32GB doesn't hurt, either. If it come out by late April, early May, it'll be worth waiting for... Of course, I still might break down and get the Xoom...

Thanks again, n64kps!

I also had great confidence in Toshiba.... Until they launched a Android tablet in Europe this winter. The biggest disaster in the history of Android devices. Shops that sold them had to stop selling them because they had to return more than they could sell (yeah okay logically it doesn't make sense, but rhetorically it does LoL).

Search for Toshiba Folio to read about this little tragedy. Hope this time they do it right.

The Folio itself isn't such a bad tablet, but an underwhelming tablet for 1000pounds? They had to be smoking crack.

Just to be clear, NO, NO, NO

Play-on is server software that you have to run on a PC and then run the client on your Xoom, (even on a PS3). Its expensive and a pain to use - you have to keep your PC on and the server running.

Netflix does not run on the Xoom, its running on your PC. You are running a Play-on client on your Xoom. It does not compare to using Netflix on a laptop or iPad.

I don't understand why the widgets are so small! With a 10.1" screen, you'd think they would take advantage of the screen. HTC makes the best lookin widgets.

Agreed, and those are the biggest widgets too! Hopefully devs will work on that and get some awesome widgets going to utilize that big screen.

+1 for HTC's widgets being awesome. I would get the Flyer since it's made by HTC but I really want a 10 inch tablet (7 is just too small imo). I also like the the pure Honeycomb experience.

Thanks for the hands-on. Good job. The Xoom looked pretty responsive. I'll wait until Toshiba's tablet comes out before giving serious though to purchasing a tablet.

I'm a photographer, and one of the most important things to me is that my pictures will look good on my tablet. The Xoom's widescreen is only useful for movies. For everything else, the ipad's screen ratio will give an image that appears larger. For example, most of my pictures would be pillarboxed and smaller on the Xoom's widescreen, while on the ipad they would fill up the screen and be bigger. Also, the ipad has a very good color, whereas the Xoom has more of a blue cast. I'm not talking about the blue color theme on the Xoom, even white screens have a blueish tint.

However, I'm an android phone user (two) and I'd like to use the same apps I already own on whatever tablet I get. I wouldn't want to have to buy my apps all over again on an ipad. I hope an Android tablet comes out that's not widescreen.

Odd that the headphone jack is on top? does the wire get in the way when watching a movie or listening while browsing?

I haven't tried using it yet however I think it would be better to have it on the top vs the bottom because then you wouldn't be able to rest it on the bottom while watching the movie. The side would just be kinda weird

Looks very nice! I too am waiting for the Toshiba tablet but now with the Samsung announcement of a 8.9 inch tablet and a 10.1 inch, I may opt for one of those (10.1 inch on June 9th). I liked Toshiba preview but they don't seem to announce how much built in storage it will have.

This is really a tough decision... I was sold on the wifi XOOM.. then the Sammy... now I'm leaning back to the XOOM... maybe ill flip a coin

I think the only thing better on the Samsung tablets will be the screen. The screen on the Xoom is a little washed out compared to most other screens out there.

A disadvantage to having the Samsung Tab is that they put their own custom skin on Honeycomb which will take longer to update when Google pushes and update out. And we all know how long Samsung takes to update their software... That's a major turnoff for me and I'll sacrifice a bit of screen quality for having a more up to date system and pure Android 3.0

I gotcha. I'm just not convinced with the hardware. I'm not really a Motorola fan... my wifes droid 2 is crap... I love my incredible and flash ROMs on the reg... I just want a solid piece of equipment not too concerned with rooting the tab.

I felt the same way I am a huge HTC fan (just got the bolt and love it) I have tried to like motorola and even picked up the 2 and x but sold them to get the incredible again. When it comes to HTC both hardware and software can't be beat. With that said I picked me up the 3G/4G Xoom and have to say the build quality is great (but then again I have always felt motorola made some great hardware) the hing that sold it for me was the unlockeable bootloader and stock android 3.0. It may be the only android tablet we get without skins. Samsung already is piling that atrocity TouchWiz on their tablets. I will never buy samsung for anything they spend entirely to much time building their next best thing to spend any time to update their phones or fix their skin. How they got away with releasing 5 galaxy s phones all with the same problems with GPS and laggy operating systems is beyond me. Then they lie to consumers guarenteeing 2.2 by september and most have yet to see an upgrade. Then they re-do the vibrant and magically it has 2.2? What about that galaxy tab how does that have 2.2? It seems to me the only time they will upgrade their software is if it profits them. I don't trust them and never will. For me the Xoom is the best buy and more than likely will be for some time. I mean loom at the OG droid. That was a solid phone that always ran the most updated software (even if it took some time to get it I.e. 2.1). I would suggest the Xoom to anyone it is a great product and unless google comes yo market with a nexus tablet (that would be a killer I'd, but please work with HTC google not samsung, please!) I hope all you people waiting for the wifi only Xoom enjoy your purchase as much as i have. Its a great product and i have not regretted it in any way. Welcome to the family.

Motorola isn't known for frequent and timely updates either.

I can't say I own any of their phones but as a Samsung phone owner, I hear complaints about Motorola updates almost as often as complaints about Samsung updates.

While I'm not an OS overlay fan, that Samsung Galaxy 8.9 TouchWiz did add some things that would be useful. I like the way they added the shortcuts to the notifications menu.

I really think I'm going to get the Xoom later this morning from Staples.

When I first heard TouchWiz was going to be on it, I also cringed.

However, according to reviews of those who have actually used the device, it isn't as bad as touchwiz on phones. Apparently, Sammy has learned not to mess with the software too much. In fact, the couple of reviewers who used the Samsung tab thought touchwiz was a GOOD addon since Honeycomb is still very infant in features and stability. (much like the early versions of phone Android weren't that great)

Again, we should probably wait for reviews or hands on experience before jumping to conclusions.

So far, the biggest weakness for Samsung is its release date. (2 months is a long time) However, it has the Xoom beat in terms of price, thinness, weight, and screen. And to me, those are the most important aspects when it comes to the tablet that I will be using often. Touchwiz can be a problem but I want to see more before I make any rash judgements.

Such as?

If I'm going to be using a tablet at 4 hours at a time watching prerecorded lectures, viewing email, reading ebooks, surfing the web, and watching youtube/movies then I want one that is comfortable to hold.

From user reviews, the word "heavy" is mentioned a lot. That doesn't bode well to me. Also, a key issue is screen quality and the Xoom doesn't even match the iPad. (based on multiple videos)

Samsung is a leader in mobile parts and a lot of Samsung parts are in iPads so it doesn't surprise me that they can fit all this good stuff in such a thin package. Look at their phones: thinner and lighter than the competition.

They certainly did. If you look at the original 10.1" Tab, it had an 8MP camera. Now they've dropped that to a 3MP camera. That's one of the most notable features that was downgraded. I don't know others of the top of my head but I'm sure they did have to make some compromises to get it thinner.

Been playing with mine since last night. Well worth it.
I am not a fan of moto blur but damn the xoom is just pure nerdgasm!

I gave up on toshiba with the last laptop we bought my wife. This is truly a beautiful piece of tablet. Add netflix and sd support and usb host option on the fly and mmmmm more nerdgasm!

So hard to look @ my droid 2s screen after using it hehe.

Picked mine up at a Staples in Sacramento, CA for $599. They gave me the hard sell on a very steep extended warranty, which i refused.

Overall, enjoying the Xoom Wi-Fi. Was originally planning to wait on the new samsung tabs, but touchwiz sort of killed that idea. Not sure exactly why I bought this, having a Nexus One, but its fun none the less.

Likes...
1. Battery life seems great
2. build quality is excellent
3. screen is bright
4. OS and software seem fast and smooth. The display unit in Staples was LAGGY as hell with almost everything from switching home screens to scrolling, which had me worried. Thankfully my Xoom is extremely smooth and feels very fast in these areas.

Annoyances so far...

1. BIGGEST COMPLAINT>>>: Delivery of email via Gmail app seems delayed, sometimes by 10 minutes or more. They usually so straight to my Nexus One as normal, but the Xoom doesn't receive them for at least 5-10 mins after the nexus without doing a manual refresh in gmail. Now I am noticing that delivery to the Nexus One email seems slow now too. Not sure what to make of this or if there could be a connection

2. Installing Apps from the Market seems buggy and strange sometimes. Im finding that i can't press "install" and instantly go do something else. I have to wait for the download to actually begin or else the app won't install.

3. I feel like there is an overabundance of force closes in a lot of the apps and OS as well.

4. Gmail widgets don't auto refresh with new messages. You have to actually go into the gmail app, then back out to the home screen, or flick through the widget itself to force a refresh.

5. This thing is heavy after a while.

6. Seems like honeycomb could make better use of the available screen space on the screen. There is a pretty decent margin on all 4 sides of the home screens where you can't place widgets or icons.

7. Auto brightness seems a bit too dim, even in dimly lit rooms. I have it set to manual around 20-30%, which is fine for almost all situations, except outdoors.

Overall, I'm pleased. Hope some of these other things get sorted, or that I didn't get a bad unit (unlikely).

Anyone else having the gmail delay issue?

I got that really hard sell on the warranties also. The in-store Xoom probably just needed to be rebooted. They hardly ever reset the demo units.

I can agree with all of your likes about the Xoom.

I don't have that lag issue you're referring to at all. In fact, it seems I get the notification on my Xoom a split second before my EVO.

I also have that Market bug you're referring to, but it's not a huge deal because you only have to wait a few seconds for the download to initiate. Otherwise the market seems to be working just great for me, as does the Amazon app store.

I can, however, agree that there are quite a few force closes, but only on apps that aren't optimized for honeycomb. I haven't experienced any OS force closes at all.

The Gmail widget refreshes for me, maybe you have a setting that isn't tweaked right? I haven't tried the Email widget.

It's not the lightest thing but I've held it in portrait mode to type this whole response (Something impossible to do on the iPad because it's so wide!) and I haven't had much trouble.

I think the margins are there so when you rotate it to portrait mode, it's not all distorted. The iPad has lots of what seems to be wwasted space on it's home screen as well. Honeycomb is more efficient in that regard.

I plan on leaving brightness on max throughout the day because it does get such good battery life. I'll drop it down at night if it's too bright for me.

I'm happy as well and I'm sure lots of bugs will be worked out in short order.

Thanks for the review. I was excited about the Xoom but I fear that buggy-ness, screen quality (based on user video comparisons), and weight are issues that will make me wait for other options.

People should remember that just because this is the first 3.0 device, doesn't mean that it'll be the best. I'm sure it's a good device but it needs some updating.

They don't want to start selling them until tomorrow. I work at Staples but I'm off today and I went in to buy one and they told me I have to wait until tomorrow. I called my friend at different Staples and he said the same thing. Btw my store only has 4 for tomorrow and a bigger Staples a few miles away only has 8 so you better get in line tomorrow morning. Luckily I work tomorrow morning lol

That notification sound is awful! lol

I'm hoping to get a new tablet next week. I think I'm going to pass on the Xoom though. I had a monitor with a glossy/reflective screen and I HATED it. Looking it over at a Verizon store and it seems to have a fingerprint issue compared to the Galaxy Tab and iPad.

Think I'll be getting the ipad. Sucks to lose flash, but guess I'll gain a more mature app store.

The ipad is every bit as reflective as this is. My ipad was also a huge fingerprint machine.

Your comment about the app store is somewhat true, but seeing the way the development community adjusts to new phone hardware and has updates ready within weeks of new "pirate" versions of software quickly, I doubt it will take long.

Just got back from playing with BB's floor model. Force closed on me 3 times in as many minutes. Very disappointing. For $600, I'd expect something that worked better. Their ipads didn't crash once in the time I played with them. And I don't want an iPad. I want a Xoom. One that has the kinks ironed out. I'll wait to see what they do.

Well that ipad is running on 4 year old ipod software. This is new. It'll take a while to flush out the bugs, but I'd bet the farm it will be quite stable much sooner than you think.

You spoiled Americans. Kidding. Here in the Netherlands (Europe) the Xoom isn't even announced. There aren't even any rumors about a release date. We do have the iPad 2, nice device in every way except in doesn't run Honeycomb. It's like having a TV with a sort of child lock. I just can't get the channels on it I like to see. :) Even when I try to program the damn thing it forces me to create weird apple approved channels.

Okay, the side effect of this is that the IPads will be more used by companies because it appears more safe. But then again, it may be not.

So yeah, Motorola please drop some Honeycomb Xooms here. Let's do it the old 40-45 way. Let's do it safely in the night at a dropping zone somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I'll send some morse codes to give you the directions. Set us free from the iPad LoL

Man, the glare on those large glass screens is just horrible. I can see the guy's reflection as if it were a mirror.

It is surprising that these companies (Apple too) don't integrate some type of anti-glare into them. I suppose an aftermarket anti-glare film is a must?

Staple officially sucks the pre order I canceled shipped which now means I have two 599 charges on the CC. Way to screw up...between that and the in store harassment I'm pretty pissed off @ them.

I got my WiFi Xoom Friday and I love it!!! Thursday night the store near my house wouldn't sell it "early" so I went the next morning before work to another store and they had no problem selling me one.

I had to wait all day at work dying to open it but I waited till I got home :) ... now I need a case. Anyone have any good suggestions?

Cool review N64kps, thanks! But one tip, maybe next review (and please do more) bring the camera closer to the device. All those, "as you can see" parts, I really couldn't see.

Otherwise thanks, looks like a great tablet.

I kind of just wanted to point out that you spelled the user's name wrong. You called him n46kps. He's actually n64kps. Just pointing it out, no real complaint here. :D