As soon as the delivery man arrived in the ‘burn offices, I knew we were in for trouble. His demeanour suggested we were to be in possession of something dark and edgy for the next two weeks.
We all stared as our hirsute Gearburn editor opened the package. He stared at it for a moment, looked around the room and walked slowly over to me. “Here you go Stu, you like tablets,” he said, in much the same tone as I imagine a judge might when condemning a man to death.
It was the Motorola Xoom 2. “Sequels are always difficult,” I muttered to myself, before opening the box.
Once I’d liberated the tablet, a strange sensation came over me. I wanted to do bad things with it. Not in a dirty way, you understand, it just had a slightly super-villainy air about it. Those tapered edges and cut off corners, the absence of visible buttons… It sent chills down my spine
I returned my attention to the room. “Cool,” I said, speaking in the ed’s general direction, but he’d disappeared for his post-work single malt.
As I’ve said, the Xoom doesn’t have the same kind presence as any of the other tablets in its class. It looks more like something you’d use to remotely bomb an enemy encampment than to nail that presentation that closes the Johnson account.
That’s a little odd, because the apps on that came with our Xoom 2 were all business. My only guess is that it’s designed for the kind of businessperson who’s pieced together their moral code from half-remembered flashbacks of The Devil’s Advocate, Wall Street and American Psycho.
On the other hand, you won’t get a Patrick Bateman-style workout with Xoom 2 like you would with the new iPad. This thing is so light (599g to be precise) you’ll be tempted to use it as a throwing weapon once 007 gets past your henchmen.
This is where things start to fall down a little bit for the Xoom 2. For the most part things are fine, but there are just a lot of things that mean this tablet is good instead of great.
First off, let’s talk processors. The Xoom 2 is dual core and that’s fine… for a smartphone. Granted, it’s not fresh off the launch stage new, but hell it’s still being rolled out in some countries. If Motorola was really serious about building a hardcore tablet, it should have been pushing boundaries, not playing catch up. Hell, if Google and Asus can squeeze a quad-core processor into the Nexus 7, surely Motorola could’ve done the same when it was developing the 10.1-inch Xoom 2.
There are also a couple of niggling inconsistencies that don’t belong on a showcase tablet. The most obvious of these inconsistencies is the lag between portrait and landscape mode. It’s not massive, but it’s there.
It’s no Retina Display but it’s still bloody good. If watching series on tablets is your thing then you’ll be absolutely fine with the Xoom 2. In fact, right now the 1280X800 screen the Xoom 2 is rocking probably makes more sense than anything with Apple’s Retina Display technology, largely because there are so few apps ready for it.
The screen is also silky smooth to touch. I know it’s the same Gorilla Glass everyone else has but it just feels that little bit more polished than most of its competitors and that little bit less likely to give you friction burn while you’re playing Fruit Ninja.
Motorola claims the Xoom 2 has a standby time of up to 10 hours, that’s more or less in line with the competition. At this point, I could easily suggest that if Motorola really wanted to make this thing exceptional, it could have extended that a bit. But you’ve got to remember just how light the Xoom 2 is.
If Motorola could’ve put a bit more effort in anywhere, it’s here. The 5MP rear camera is adequate, but not phenomenal. As has been the case with most of the tablets I’ve reviewed, it battles in low lighting. Even with the flash on, you’ll still get noise, and excessive shadow as you move further and further away from the centre of the picture.
The front camera is pretty much good only for Skype calls, so don’t expect to use it for the headshot on your casting sheet.
The Xoom packs Android Honeycomb out of the box but it seems people can upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich, at least in some markets. If you can, I’d advise doing so as quickly as possible.
This bad boy is more than good enough for most of the tasks you throw at it. Just don’t be surprised when you experience a tinge of jealousy every time you see someone with a new iPad or a Nexus 7.
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