10 Comments

Summary:

Motorola introduced two new Xoom-branded slates for the U.K and Ireland markets. The Xoom 2 and Xoom 2 Media Edition both run on Google’s platform for tablets, but won’t ship with Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. Didn’t Motorola learn from the first Xoom?

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Motorola introduced two new Xoom-branded slates for the U.K and Ireland markets on Thursday, with availability later this month. The Xoom 2 and Xoom 2 Media Edition both run on Google’s Android platform for tablets, but won’t ship with Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. Didn’t Motorola learn from its ill-fated original Xoom tablet?

Motorola’s Xoom was the first Android 3.0 tablet when it launched with Google’s Honeycomb software in February. But after spending time with the device, I found both the hardware and software to be rushed to market. The 4G radio Motorola touted wasn’t yet supported — and didn’t appear until six months later — while the user interface for Honeycomb seemed non-intuitive for mainstream consumers. Combine those observations with a high-price and lengthy contract, and you can see why Motorola hasn’t yet shipped a million Xoom tablets, let alone sold all of them.

 

So now we have two new Xoom tablets arriving, and both will ship with the marginally improved Android 3.2, not Android 4.0. Google has only introduced Android 4.0 publicly for use on smartphones, but we know the software is meant to unify smartphones and tablets. My guess is that tablet-makers are still working to integrate the new platform on their hardware or they simply don’t have it yet.

I understand that. But why release new hardware when new — and likely much better — software to run it is coming very soon? It’s easy to dismiss this by saying Motorola will offer an update to Android 4.0 in the future, but the delayed LTE upgrade doesn’t instill confidence in such a statement.

Anyway, a new software platform doesn’t change the hardware Motorola plans to ship. The Xoom 2 looks similar to its predecessor, with some subtle changes. The corners of the slate are slightly cut-off, much like some recent Motorola smartphone designs. The 10.1-inch tablet gains a chip that’s 20 percent faster, now a 1.2 GHz dual-core chip, and it shaves 100 grams in weight, plus it adds stylus support for enterprise customers.

Meanwhile, a consumer-focused smaller version is also launching. Most of the Xoom 2 Media Edition specifications are the same as the bigger Xoom 2, but the device uses an 8.2-inch screen and is around 40 percent lighter than its big brother. The smaller size means a smaller battery though: The Media Edition gets six hours of web browsing on a charge compared to 10 hours on the larger Xoom 2.

Both devices come with 1 GB of memory, 16 GB of storage capacity, a 5-megapixel rear camera, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, Wi-Fi, and a splash-guard coating on the Corning Gorilla Glass displays. Motorola hasn’t shared the price yet, so unless these are cost-competitive, I think they’ll need Android 4.0 to sell in meaningful numbers.

Some Android tablet enthusiasts will like these as they are of course, but I don’t see a compelling difference between these and the original Xoom. If that model didn’t sell, what’s going to move these off the shelves? There isn’t much, on paper at least, that addresses the reasons why the original Xoom wasn’t a big seller.

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  1. I’ve stopped wondering a long time ago. My gameplan is to stick to what works, let others have their cake (even if it’s a blatant mistake) andcontinue to foster good groundbreaking technology.

  2. It doesn’t matter whether they wait for Ice Cream Sandwich or not. When Google said they would “unify smartphones and tablets”, what they meant was that they’d bring a lot of Honeycomb’s bad ideas to the phone. Since those bad ideas are already in Honeycomb, the tablet version of Ice Cream Sandwich is going to be kind of like Honeycomb 2.0.

  3. What a mess. The iPad2 still beats this in just about every category.

    1. John Harrington, Jr. trollaikman8 Monday, November 7, 2011

      Here’s a great side-by-side comparison http://bit.ly/ipad2vsXoom

  4. I’m a Xoom owner. Every review I’ve seen of the original Xoom mentioned what it was like out the box, with no updates taken in to account.
    With easy to understand system updates, the US xoom is now on 3.2, which is a long way from where 3.0 started. Speed, battery life, and most importantly, decent apps have made the experience much better.
    All that being said, the Xoom 2 is not exactly much of an upgrade – lighter, and .2ghz faster doesn’t do much to excite.
    Honeycomb is good, but the apps (or lack thereof) is where the iPad beats the android tabs. Moto need to do what Sony have done: put their money where their mouth is and invest in the creation of new apps.
    The hardware is largely irrelevant at this stage – the apps are where this battle is being won and lost.

  5. Matthew Renoux Monday, November 7, 2011

    Anyone who has trouble using honeycomb 3.2 has no business doing tech reviews. That being said, these don’t offer a significant improvement on the original Xoom. The learning curve on a mobile os is about a week and a half; how long will you have the device? Even so, a flashlight is easier to use than an ipad, does that make it better? Windows has an immense software library, why leave our windows PC’s? We should really be trying to put windows on a flashlight!!! Unfortunately, that would fall short too because the competition is to see who can build the best ipad.

  6. hi,

    but the point is to know if XOOM 1 will be able to work with the maxStylus technology. On the atmel site, they focus on the “E” maxTouch technology. the mXT1386 runs a lot of tablets (XOOM, ICONIA….). Does it work with the stylus ?

    BLa question reste de savoir si la XOOM 1 pourra fonctionner avec le nouveau stylet ( technologie MaxStylus). Sur le site ATMEL, ils precisent la compatibilité avec les controleurs MaxTouch serie E. Rien ne précisent si le controleur mXT1368 armant de nombreuses tablettes actuelles (iconia, xoom), pourra faire fonctionner ce stylet ?

  7. Who gave this guy a pen?

  8. I don’t really get your point why they should not release new hardware now and just make sure that it will get upgraded as soon as Android 4 has been ported. Which other tablet is that much better than the Xoom / Xoom 2 in the same price range? Asus? Acer?

  9. what a useless article! at least get someone to research what they are going to write about! obviously an ipad 2 lover yet the xoom 2’s hardware beats it in every way!

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