Motorola Xoom: that is the first Honeycomb tablet?

Testing the Motorola Xoom After launching subdued in the United States on February 24, Motorola sells its new Tegra 2 tablet on France. Preceding the Acer Iconia Tab A500 few days, the manufacturer is the first to offer an Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet in France. Must crack, or wait for the competition?

Unlike the US market, at first, Motorola sells only the Wi-Fi 32GB model (the 3G version to be released in the month of May). We will also take this test to see if the faults that had been singled out with the US models are still in the game. Recall that at the time, the first Xoom did not support Flash, proposed an inoperative SD slot, and required a return to factory customers wanting to add 4G compatibility with 3G models.

Motorola Xoom

main Features

Operating system

Android 3.0.1

Processor / speed

NVIDIA Tegra 2 (dual core) @ 1GHz

Memory / Storage

RAM: 1GB

Internal Memory: 32GB

Micro SD Slot nonfunctional (pending update)

screen technology and definition

Capacitive Screen 10.1 “WXGA (1280x 800 pixels)

Camera

5 megapixel autofocus camera with dual LED flash

2MP webcam

GPS

Yes

FM radio

NO

Drums

Li-ion 3250 mAh

Dimensions

249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9 mm

Weight

700 g (with battery)

Design and Ergonomics Front View, black frame and rounded corners of the Xoom recall the lines of Apple’s iPad. However, unlike the Apple tablet, the edges are thinner, and 16:10 of the screen stretches the tablet in the width direction. The format is ideal for video, but remains practical for e-book reading. The WXGA (1280x 800 pixels) offers excellent color rendering, and the viewing angle is wide enough to offer good comfort at all times. However, the glossy quickly tend to accumulate fingerprints. Fortunately, these are eliminated relatively easily by means of a suitable cloth. The weight of the assembly is not negligible since the tablet weighs 700g (or 100g more than the iPad 2).

© Healthician.org Xoom to face: an iPad look stretched in the width direction. The screen offers good color rendering, and generous viewing angle is significant. © Healthician.org The rear consists of a smooth metal coating. On the upper part to the rubberized side, we find the startup key, the speakers and the NPC with his dual LED flash. © Healthician.org ignition key and Sleep placed next speaker © Healthician.org 5 megapixel camera with dual LED flash © Healthician.org dummy micro SD card with a warning message that asks to wait next update the system to use the slot. © Healthician.org A connector provided: one appreciates the micro HDMI output AC adapter included with the Motorola Xoom

Most of the back is made of a gray metal whose center is hit by the seal of the brand. The upper part is made of a rubberized material. This is where we find the camera and the two smaller speakers placed on either side of the tablet. unusual detail: the on / standby button is not placed on the edge, but on the back of the unit.

connectivity, the Xoom is pretty well supplied. In addition to the classic micro USB port (which does not charge the device) and the headphone jack, Motorola provides an output to the HDMI micro size and a golden connector that is used with the dock. This is complemented by a small outlet (note that the charger is relatively bulky).

Android Honeycomb interface

Components As with most tablets Honeycomb (Android 3.0), the Xoom has a SoC (system on a chip) NVIDIA Tegra 2 clocked at 1GHz. In addition to the power delivered by the dual heart ARM cortex A9 chip that has the advantage of integrating a graphics processor with a power comparable to a GeForce 6200 (according to NVIDIA). This circuit includes 8 processing units that offload the CPU when calculating the 3D rendering of a scene. This capacity is mostly exploited with video games. In parallel, there is a unit dedicated to video decompression capable of performing capture or playback operations in 1080p. In practice, we see that in this area, progress still to be made (see chapter on the media).

Tegra 2 is accompanied by 1GB of RAM (ie a RAM twice the iPad 2). For storage, the Xoom includes a flash memory of 32 GB which is expandable via micro SD … after publication of a forthcoming update of the device. With the current firmware version (3.0.1), the slot is irrelevant.

For multimedia and video conferencing, Motorola offers a 2-megapixel webcam on the front. The digital camera of 5 megapixels with his dual LED flash is placed at the rear of the unit.

The wireless connection is provided by a Wi-Fi system 802.11 b, g, n. In addition, there is a stereo Bluetooth 2.1 chip.

Internet This time the interface of Chrome Lite approach from desktop Chrome. The tabs (you can open up to 16 pages at once) are placed on the upper part of the screen. Another common inherited the famous Google browser: Incognito option appeared. When selecting this mode, the browser disables the history of visited pages, and does not retain local recording (cookies, download list, etc.).

Display in landscape mode

in portrait display

In performance, the browser benefits both the power of the Tegra 2. The loading and scrolling heavy pages is quick, although it is still a notch below Safari on iPad 2.

interface options, Favorites Manager, historical

The display of the most visited websites on startup is not enabled by default (you must go to Options / Settings / Labs). Right: the virtual keyboard

This time talking about the Flash format which is supported after installing the plug-in for Adobe (available in version 10.2 with the publication of the test). In practice, the quality is very random. Low resolution, it oscillates between good and mediocre. HD this time, there is often a ballet jerks, which makes sense to the extent that the current version of Honeycomb does not support hardware acceleration of Tegra 2 (it will be version 3.1 of Android ).

Flash: a random experiment in low definition (right: it is always possible to switch to a full screen mode).

HD: the lack of hardware acceleration does not make things easier: the videos often turn into slides sessions.

To communicate, Google offers Gmail client has a new look compared to the team that version 2.3 of Android. This time, the dual-panel interface is fully optimized to take full advantage of the tablet format. Note that the use of Gmail is not mandatory puisqu’Honeycomb acquires a second mail client supports POP3, IMAP and Exchange.

Client Gmail Honeycomb

The tablet is equipped with a GPS system, see what gives Google Maps on Honeycomb. It is now possible to display 3D buildings with the majority of US cities. In France, only a few districts of the city of Marseille were modeled. For the rest, there are all the features that are present in the web version. You can display a satellite view, get directions, or turn on Latitude, to mention only these main options.

As smartphone, the Google Maps application for Honeycomb can also be transformed into a true GPS assistant (Google Navigation shortcut in the Program menu). In the absence of support, and given the dimensions important to the tablet, this feature is of limited interest.

Google Navigation on Xoom

Multimedia Music player who gets a makeover from Android 2.3, and now offers a display of the type of pockets “Coverflow”. However, if the interface allows control in a jiffy, we regret the absence of a tone equalizer. To have this feature, it will take a turn towards the Android Market.

native audio player Honeycomb

Photo gallery of Honeycomb: little changes compared to Android 2.3

Despite the presence of a Tegra 2 chip that promises to provide a hardware decompression 1080p, do not expect to think outside the box of the MP4 H264 natively supported by Android. Although the features are enticing, Tegra 2 is not able to decompress video streams “high profile” (it will probably be the quad-core Tegra 3). Clearly, whether with the embedded player, or an alternative such as Rock Player application, playback MKV 720p or 1080p often looks like a dumb show. If necessary, it must go through the re-encoding box.

Another black spot: in the absence of support micro SD card (you must patiently await the arrival of an update), one must be content with a MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) to transfer the media files to the 32 GB available in standard memory. Compared to the conventional “mass storage” mode, this method has many disadvantages. The transfer rate is particularly slow and reluctant Explorer to copy the files deemed incompatible with the target device (which is anathema to the extent that just pass by the Market to extend compatibility to Divx, eg ). In some cases, it is possible to pass the warning, in others, the explorer simply refuses to copy movies, even when taking care of renaming files to work around this straitjacket. Worse, with one of our test machines, the plant explorer tent from which to copy certain types of files. Worse, the MTP limited compatibility with Windows (default), users of Mac and Linux environments will appreciate. Red card.

native player with MP4 file

In contrast, AVI Divx or Xvid files pass without problem from Rock Player (but not with the Android multimedia gallery). This time, the power of dual heart is amply sufficient for a software decompression perfectly fluid.

Secondly, we appreciate the HDMI output micro (you must use an HDMI cable to HDMI type D) allows you to enjoy content on an HDTV. The result is convincing: when connecting the tablet, the display changes to a clone mode.

Example of using the micro HDMI output

Rock Player with Divx AVI file

For Web content, Honeycomb adopts a new YouTube customer particularly well finished. The home screen consists of a video wall that can scroll from left to right. It is possible to search by voice, or connect their YouTube account to find his favorite videos. When a sequence is selected, the right pane displays the associated videos or comments.

YouTube client for Honeycomb

Capture photos and video The 5 megapixel camera with autofocus produces acceptable images, although we would have preferred that the image is a bit more detailed. The maximum resolution is 2592 x 1944 and if necessary, it is possible to geotag images based on the embedded GPS chip. In dark environments, we appreciate the presence of the dual LED flash that still manages to do his work when the target is located at a short distance.

Photo capture with the Motorola Xoom

Next video capture, Xoom generates MPEG-4 files (3GP extension) in 1280 x 720 at 30 fps (maximum quality). Like the picture capacity is not exceeded what is the best on smartphone, but the quality is sufficient to keep track of the good times daily.

Games and applications out of the box, a Honeycomb tablet Xoom as the benefits of software therefore ecosystem. Most of the applications designed for smartphones (Android 2.3 and lower) run on Android 3.0.

Home screen of the Andoid Market on Honeycomb

If this point is particularly significant, we regret all the same that it is not (yet) possible to differentiate applications optimized for Honeycomb from the rest of the offer. Contacted by us, Google declined to disclose the number of programs designed specifically for Android 3.0. In fact, at present, only there are more than twenty such applications. In the lot, we particularly note Pulse (an excellent RSS reader), Google Sky Map, Google Earth, Angry Birds Season, LogMeIn Ignition, Quickoffice and Dungeon Defender. This very low number of tablet-oriented programs is understandable insofar as it is a system that is still in its infancy.

Software plug the Android Market

To find optimized games, one can go through the Android Market to download Tegra Zone, an application provided by NVIDIA booth which is limited to Honeycomb Tegra titles that take advantage of capabilities of 2. However, do not expect miracles in terms of quantity: at the time of writing, only 15 titles are available.

Tegra Zone: an alternative market signed NVIDIA proposed … via the Android Market.

performances

Benchmark Pi BenchmarkPi is software that assesses processor power. The result expressed is the number of milliseconds required to calculate the number Pi. Smallest result is best.

The Xoom is slightly better than the Acer Iconia Tab A500, or the Optimus 2X (both equipped with a Tegra 2). Not surprisingly, we find that we entered a new phase since the single processor clocked at 1 GHz heart that equipped Android smartphones (Galaxy S, HTC Desire, etc.).

Benchmark Pi (in ms, the lowest result is best)

CaffeineMark The gap is even more significant with CaffeineMark. Here, the highest result is the best. This time it feels benchmark Java environment of Android. This net difference is mainly due to the presence of a double heart, not better Java optimization Honeycomb. Indeed, the Optimus 2X is equipped with Android 2.3 is also part of the lead pack.

Caffeine Mark (the highest result is the best)

Let SunSpider SunSpider this time, the benchmark JavaScript engine Webkit HTML rendering authors (Safari, Chrome …). Here it seems that the Honeycomb version of Chrome Lite browser is much more efficient than onboard the Optimus 2X: the tablet even exceeds the performance of Safari on iPad 2, which was previously the most powerful mobile device as SunSpider .

Benchmark SunSpider Javascript (in ms, the lowest result is best)

Autonomy We loop this series of tests with video playback battery life test. H264 MP4 file whose resolution is the same as a DVD is played repeatedly with the Android native player until complete exhaustion of the battery. For the duration of the test, the screen remains active (80% brightness) and Wi-Fi is on (but not Bluetooth). The Xoom is better than the Iconia, but failed to exceed the iPad.

Conclusion Honeycomb forces, the Xoom offers similar overall technical features in the Acer Iconia Tab as well as the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. However, compared with the two tablets, the Xoom enters the race with a significant disability. Until the next update, the micro SD slot is inoperative. Admittedly, the storage capacity is not to question the extent or the Xoom is equipped with 32 GB of memory, which is enough to cover most uses. However, limiting the MTP (media transfer protocol) to transfer data results in poor flow and deprive users of the flexibility of a mass storage (compatibility problems with some OS, refusal to transfer some files, etc.).

We also regret not to charge the USB device. Too bad the move, this capacity would have to overcome the charger whose measurements are similar to those of a laptop power adapter.

On the software side this time, we have to settle for less because no additional program complements the basic package. Fortunately, Honeycomb is not stingy, but we would have appreciated the presence of a content rental kiosk (audio, video, e-books), or other small perk that could make the difference compared to competition.

Multimedia side, the NPC did what we asked in photo as video. However, for video playback, the lack of opportunities hardware decompression of high profile video via Tegra 2 will force MKV fans to go through a re-encoding phase, gymnastics which can be avoided on iPad 2 in the presence of AVPlayer.

Nevertheless, the Xoom still has assets that will not leave indifferent tablet lovers. The display delivers brilliant, and the viewing angle proves optimal. In addition, the system and all compatible applications benefit both of the power that is provided by the dual-core and powerful graphics system that delivers amazing 3D (especially with games).

Leaving only the price issue that could tip the balance towards the competition … Android or iOS. For around 12 euros less than an iPad Wi-Fi same capacity (admittedly, add 40 euros to acquire the HDMI output in this case), or 80 euro more than a Iconia Tab A500, the Xoom does is not a position of strength.

Motorola Xoom Most Tegra + Power + 2 Rendering of the screen, viewing angle + finish, quality of materials + micro HDMI output Cons – No mass storage (MTP) mode – For now, memory card inoperable – price / volume keys impractical – No USB 2.5 support Finish Multimedia Web Usability

Edited on 11/27/2014 at 10:27