A whole slew of tablets were shown at the 2011 Consumer Electronics show. Some designs were very interesting, but maybe one of the least conventional, the Motorola Xoom is the most interesting tablet announced at the CES. The Xoom generated a lot of interest because, unofficially is the reference Android 3.0 Honeycomb.
From a hardware standpoint the Motorola Xoom was pretty much what is expected. It comes with a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor with 1GB of RAM. While these specifications sound very impressive it really just follows really just follows the current pattern set by Apple and Samsung which basically matches tablet specifications with their flagship smartphone. The Apple iPad used the same processor as the iPhone 4, although Apple only gave the iPad 256GB of RAM, half the amount placed in the iPhone 4. The Samsung Galaxy Tab, has the same processor and the same amount of memory found in their flagship smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S.
More interesting is the display of the Motorola Xoom. It will come with a 10.1-inch LCD display with a 1280 x 800 resolution. I prefer smaller tablets, but is seems that Xoom design confirms Apple's own policy that a 10-inch or so tablet is the right size for a tablet. The 1280 x 800 resolution of the Xoom is higher than the 1024 x 768 resolution of the Apple iPad and the 1024 x 600 of the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
The screen of the Apple iPad follows a 4:3 ratio. The Motorola Xoom has a 16:10 screen ratio, which is closer to the 16:9 ratio of which is used for 720p and 1020p HD. The Xoom follows the same design of the Galaxy Tab which is "widescreen design". This allows the screen is more optimize for displaying HD content than the Apple iPad. The 1280 x 800 resolution also means that the Xoom can display 720P content at its native resolution without any need to scale down the image to fit the screen. The Motorola Xoom also supports 1080p playback, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The Apple iPad officially only supports 720p playback of HD content.
The Apple iPad has no cameras on it. The Samsung Galaxy Tab has two, one in the front and the other at the back. Android based products do not normally have a front facing camera. Samsung was probably trying to give its Samsung Galaxy Tab specifications which would future proof it to some degree by placing a front facing camera. It looks like this was a good call by Samsung, as the Xoom will come with a 2 megapixel front facing camera and a 5 megapixel camera at the back. The 5MP camera will support 720p video recording.
The Motorola Xoom will also have internal storage of at least 32GB, SD Card reader, WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and HDMI out.
The first variant of the Motorola Xoom to be launched in Q1 2011 will be a 3G model, but a 4G model will be released in Q2. The Xoom is expected to weigh in at 1.61 pounds which is just 0.01 heavier than the Apple iPad with a battery is rated to be capable of supporting 10 hours of video. Given the higher specifications, we would keep out fingers crossed on this one.
While the Xoom has a larger 10.1-inch screen as against the iPad's 9.7-inch screen, the Xoom will have a thinner bezel, so it will approximately the same size.
All in all, the Motorola Xoom beats Apple's iPad in every specification on paper. Given that the iPad will be replaced by a newer model in 3-4 months, this is not really very surprising. A updated iPad is inlikely to match the specifications of the Xoom as Apple is unlike to equip an iPad with HDMI out and a card reader. The iPad OS, iOS will also not be coming with flash support and is unlikely to support full multitasking.
We would expect the other Android 3.0 Honeycomb Tablets to be released by other major manufacturers to match the Motorola Xoom specifications, with lower end versions being made available. In the next year, we will found out if the march of the second Android Army will be as successful as the first. Given the moderate success of the rather expensive Samsung Galaxy Tab which cornered about 10% of the market this would seem to be the case.