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iPad 2 vs Motorola Xoom: The iOS tablet vs The Android 3.0 tablet

Lines have been drawn in the sand. Many have already decided that they want to take the plunge in the free-world of Android tablets with Motorola’s Xoom, whilst others are shaking their heads, telling everyone else why the iPad 2 is the Apple of their eye. (Get it?)

But how to decide between between the two? Though the two are both tablets, available with or without a 3G connection, and have relatively similar proportions, there’s plenty to differentiate between the Motorola Xoom, the first Android 3.0 tablet available in the UK, and the iPad 2. 

Though there have been Android tablets before, the Motorola Xoom is the first true rival that the iPad has to fend off to maintain its position as top tablet. Recombu will try to help you decide between the two. Anything else you’d like to compare about the two, let us know in the comments.

Looks

It’s a pretty subjective first round, but we think the iPad 2 wins out. The back-side of the Xoom looks a bit like a giant fun-sized camera, while the iPad’s metallic hues are a pleasure. Several connective ports and buttons found around the outside of the Xoom, make the iPad the winner in the minimalism stakes.

You also get a choice between white and black iPads, while the Xoom is in black-grey only.

The iPad 2 is both thinner and light than the Xoom- and it’s a noticeable difference when you have one in each hand. We think we can manage gripping the iPad 2 with one hand, but it’s a stretch with the Xoom.


What can I connect the iPad or Xoom to?

The iPad’s looks get in the way when it comes to connectivity, and the Xoom breezes through this, with 32GB of internal storage expandable by micro SD, alongside a microUSB port and direct HDMI video output. The iPad needs extra connectors for HDMI video output to HDTV, and for those, you’ll have to pay. It also only accepts its own proprietary connector to join through USB.

Which has the better screen, the Motorola Xoom or the iPad 2?

Talking strictly pixels and numbers, the Xoom’s screen is slightly larger and is HD-ready. But it isn’t all about numbers. We found, when pushed to the brightest setting, the iPad 2 was far clearer in direct sunlight than the Xoom. notice the reflection on our comparison photo above.

A tablet lives and dies by its screen, and we found that the iPad 2 had a smoother motion, and detected our movements better than the Xoom. We’re not sure whether to point the blame at the Xoom or perhaps even some half-baked Android Honeycomb, which brings us to..


Which is better, Android 3.0 or iOS?

The Motorola Xoom is the first Android Honeycomb (3.0) tablet, and Honeycomb is Google’s first version of Android designed specifically for tablet.

This means all the Google stuff; your Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, and more, have been redesigned and made far more accessible on the bigger touchscreen. Sadly, the rest of the Android app market hasn’t caught up just yet.

Though there are a few games made especially for the Xoom, well, made especially for the high-powered Tegra chip, there certainly isn’t the same range of apps that are found on the iPad.

Several Android apps designed for the phone were unusable on the Xoom, which which limits what you can do with it, and it really can’t stand up to the iPad, which, aside from having a year-long back-catalogue of apps developed especially for the tablet, can run “upscaled” versions of iPhone apps. (It means the iPhone view is zoomed in to cover the whole of the iPad screen.)

Android Honeycomb still isn’t as slick as the iPad. We understand it’s brand new, and while the customisable backgrounds, widgets and 3D-ish carousel are all great, it doesn’t feel as cohesive as the iPad 2. To be honest, it’s far too rough around the edges to stand up to the slickness of Apple’s iOS.

Which tablet is best for internet browsing?

Both tablets have dual-core processors, meaning there’s double the oomph there to load up internet content, and it’s another toughie. The iPad 2 doesn’t have Flash, but this isn’t as much of a deal-breaker as some people make out.

Flash allows certain multimedia parts of webpages to load- like streaming video and radio- and the Xoom can play both well, but the iPad can still play YouTube content, and the BBC iPlayer on the iPad is so well done, it’s preferable to the web-based browser.

With Google powering Android, web-browsing is fast on the Motorola Xoom. Very fast. Naturally, search is baked into the core of Honeycomb. Yet, the iPad 2 still has that more responsive display. We think Xoom just about inches into the lead.

Is it worth paying more for a Motorola Xoom?

The Motorola Xoom comes in two models, WiFi-only and 3G + WiFi. It’s £600 for the 3G version, while an iPad 2 with 3G starts at £499.

Looking at WiFi-only models, and the entry-level iPad 2 (16GB) is £399, while the Motorola Xoom WiFi (32GB, but expandable) is £479. Match the Xoom’s built-in memory with a 32GB iPad, and expect to pay a matching price; £479.

The Motorola Xoom does come with built-in features not found in an iPad; such as a five-megapixel camera, stereo speakers, and, somewhat bizarrely, a barometer. The question is; will you use these features?


Where can I buy the iPad 2? Where can I buy the Motorola Xoom?

Found yourself a winner? After initially selling out across the UK, the iPad 2 has recently began to trickle back in some stores. Stockists include John Lewis, Argos and Amazon, as well as Apple’s own online and branch stores.

The Motorola Xoom 3G has been exclusively poached by The Carphone Warehouse, while the Motorola Xoom WiFi is available from Currys, Dixons and PC World, online and in-store.

Conclusion

The iPad gives a better tablet experience, web browsing is a joy, and the choice of apps on iTunes is still unparalleled. Yet the Xoom has great cameras that put the iPad 2 to shame. It’s a better multimedia tool too, with a full HD screen, stereo speakers and it is ready to connect to your HDTV straight out of the box, with no additional costs.

Speaking of costs, there remains a noticeable price difference. An entry-level iPad 2 still costs less than the cheapest Motorola Xoom, and this could swing it for many. We advise trying to test both out for yourself, and check our reviews on both the iPad 2 and Motorola Xoom to see what we though.

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