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Motorola Xoom vs. Apple iPad

When it comes to dominating a corner of the market, perhaps no one has done it as
successfully as Apple. One cannot go far without seeing an iPhone, iPod, or iPad in
use. Perhaps in 2011 however, that domination is being challenged. Rumor has it
that competition for the Apple iPad has finally arrived in the Motorola Xoom.


So how do the Xoom and the iPad compare, punch for punch? To begin with, a
comparison of the very first thing you will encounter with either. The Xoom will
operate with a 1200 x 800 resolution touch screen, 10.1 inches in size. The iPad has
a slightly smaller 9.7 inch LCD with a resolution of 1024 x 768. At face value, the
iPad has a lower resolution and could be written off as inferior. Consumer reviews
however have suggested that there is a benefit to the iPad in that it is comfortable
to view in both landscape and portrait orientation. The 4:3 screen ratio design of
the iPad allows for the versatility. The Xoom displays instead at roughly 16:9, a
ratio which some consider to be awkward in portrait orientation. The difference is
interesting to note and basically boils down to personal preference.

Other aspects of appearance to be considered are thickness and weight. The Xoom
and iPad are almost identical at around 12.7mm thick. They are also identical in
weight at 1.6 pounds (730 g), with the exception of the iPad minus 3G which weighs
in at 1.5 pounds (680 g). In size and weight then, it is basically a draw. Other
identical features include WiFi, Bluetooth, and Accelerometer.

That is about the extent of equivalency. The processors between the two
competitors are comparable but not identical. Motorola uses 1 GHz of NVIDIA
processing power, specifically Tegra 2 dual core. Apple employs a 1GHz Apple A4
with only a single core. The Xoom surpasses the iPad’s memory offering with 1 GB
DDR2 RAM instead of 256 MB DRAM. The iPad is offered with 3 various storage
options: 16, 32, and 64 GB. The Xoom comes in only the 32 GB variety, but with
the option to expand. Storage expansion is notoriously an Apple deficit.

One arena where the Xoom easily prevails is in the camera competition. This is
the most often pointed out advantage for Xoom. While the iPad offers no cameras,
Xoom offers two. Granted, the iPad was released almost a year ago in April 2010.
As a side note, the iPad 2, set to be released next week, will correct this shortfall.
The Xoom has both a front and a rear facing camera. The front facing, 2 MP, camera
is planned primarily for use in video chat. The rear facing camera, 5 MP with 4x
zoom and flash, is available for taking pictures and video (720p). Once again,
potential consumer opinion weighs in that the likelihood of taking pictures with a ten
inch tablet is not high, but it is a nice option to have at any rate.

Both tablets come with microphones, but only the Xoom has stereo speakers. Both
include GPS, and Xoom adds in a gyroscope and barometer. The iPad supports
video playback in 720p while the Xoom supports 1080p. The Xoom also offers the
option to record video at 720p, which the iPad neglects all together. Xoom has flash
support and both HDMI and USB 2.0 ports, which the iPad is port-less. Of course
operating systems differ as Xoom runs on Android 3.0 and Apple on iOS 4.2

An iPad can be obtained at the lowest price point of the two, but if we look at
comparable machines, they are closer in cost. A Xoom will cost about $800, $600
with a Verizon contract. A relatively equivalent iPad will cost about $729, no AT&T
contract necessary.

While it seems that the Motorola Xoom may actually be the preferred purchase to
the iPad for now, everyone is still watching out of the corner of their eye for the iPad
2. Buzz about Apple’s next gen product has never really simmered down and let
Xoom enjoy a victory. The iPad 2, set to release next week, has reduced thickness
to 8.8mm. As previously mentioned the iPad 2 has added cameras and boosted
performance.

It is generally agreed that Motorola Xoom appears slightly preferable to the iPad in
specifications and amenities. It is however also generally agreed that final opinions
must be reserved for a user test of which machine actually performs better. While
the iPad keeps an apps edge from such a long stretch as the forerunner, Xoom could
potentially close the gap in time. We will have to wait a little longer to see a wide-
spread real world test of Xoom. And, unfortunately for Xoom, decisions will probably
not be made on a market “winner” until iPad 2 takes its place at the starting line as
well.

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