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Motorola Xoom 2 and Xoom 2 Media Edition: Hands-on and first impressions

Today Motorola announced the Xoom 2 and Xoom 2 Media Edition tablets, the follow-up devices to the original Xoom released earlier this year. We’ve been able to get some hands on time with both tablets and take some pics.

First up is the Motorola Xoom 2. It’s a much slinkier proposal than the original Xoom. It’s super thin, less than 9mm thick, and Motorola says that its roughly 100 grams lighter than the first Xoom tab as well. A good thing too – the original was a little on the hefty side for our liking.

It’s got a 10.1-inch Full HD display so it retains the touchscreen real estate of its predecessor. The screen features “intelligent grip suppression” which basically allows you to hold the tab in say your left hand with your thumb across the screen and scroll with the other – the screen won’t register your left thumb as a touch input.

The Xoom 2 also works with a battery-powered capacitive stylus that’s sold separately – no prices for this just yet. The surface of both the Xoom 2 and the Media Edition are coated in something Motorola is calling Splashguard, a thin covering that actively repels water, protecting the tablet from spillages.

The Xoom 2 Media Edition has a smaller 8.2-inch screen that boasts a wide 178-degree viewing angle. Being smaller and more portable, the emphasis is on entertainment and fun here while the non-Media Edition Xoom is being pitched as more of a workhorse; the capacitive stylus we mentioned before won’t work with the Media Edition.

Internal storage on both tabs weighs in at 16GB with no support for microSD cards. Mark Notton, Head of Product Management for Europe at Motorola told us that Moto is “focussing on cloud storage” with both the new Xooms. To whit, Motorola has pre-loaded a whole host of apps that sync to the cloud.

The ever-useful Evernote comes pre-installed, allowing you to sync notes, pictures and documents on your Xoom 2. Skitch allows you to take images from the gallery and add annotations, which can be saved directly to Evernote as well.

QuickOffice comes pre-installed for Microsoft Office work on the go should you need to power through some spreadsheets. Fuze Meeting allows you to set up and join meetings with your contacts and also allows you to IM with attendees.

As with the Motorola Atrix, Citrix comes along for the ride, giving you access to a virtual desktop for anyone with a Citrix account. For those not savvy to the ways of Citrix, Motorola has also added its MotoCast softare on the Xoom 2. Announced alongside the new Razr that we saw in Berlin, MotoCast will allow you to access and stream media files stored on your computer.

Finally, Motorola told us that both tablets would be upgrading to Ice Cream Sandwich in due course. We weren’t told of exactly when the rollout would happen but we were told to expect an announcement on this in six weeks time.

We’ll be keeping you updated on this plus availability of both devices and costs. We were told that Carphone Warehouse, Best Buy, Dixons, Currys and PC World would be selling the devices so we’re expecting to hear from them about the new Xooms pretty soon. Until then, cast your eyes on our hands on pics and let us know what you think in the comments.

The back of the Xoom 2; part metal finish with rubberised grips at the edges.

A volume rocker and power button sits up on the right hand side.

Compared to the original Xoom, the Xoom 2 is so much lighter. We can effortlessley hold it in one hand.

No concrete release date has been announced yet. All we have to go on thus far is a vague mid-November ETA. So soon, in other words.

The main camera unit of the Xoom 2; 5-megapixels with a single LED flash.

Here’s the Xoom 2’s smaller, more media-savvy little brother, the Xoom 2 Media Edition. With an 8.2-inch screen it’s even lighter and more portable.

The Xoom 2 Media Edtion is a little bit bigger than your average e-book reader. We can see ourselves flicking through the latest David Nicholls novel on this.

Here’s the Media Edition side by side with irs larger sibling.

And another view from the sides; note the micro USB and mini HDMI connections there.

The back of the Xoom 2 Media Edition is rubberised all the way around, with a similar metal plate screwed on.

Though there’s not going to be a microSD slot on the finsihed versions, we couldn’t help but notice one here on the Xoom 2 Media Edition. Next to it is what looks to be a micro SIM slot too. Our normal-sized SIM card wouldn’t fit when we tested it but there’s clearly a SIM-style icon here. Motorola was keen to stress that these tabs are early in-progress editions.

A quick look at what MotoCast will look like on the Motorola Xoom 2. This’ll allow you to access media files from desktops. Cloud streaming makes up somewhat for the lack of microSD action…

…but of course it won’t work if the computer you’re connected to is offline, or if you’re not in an area with any decent Wi-Fi coverage. Still, the 16GB ought to be enough for your emergency offline playlists.

A quick look at the Skitch app by Evernote. We snapped a pic of a water bottle and scrawled a Duchamp-esque message on it with the stylus. No price for the stylus just yet; what we do know is that it takes AAAA-sized batteries.

Once you’ve done with your doodling in Skitch, you can share your creations or upload them to Evernote by tapping on the elephant icon.

Finally, here’s a look at the new Motorola dock that’s designed to work with both the Xoom 2 and the Xoom 2 Media edition. You’ve got your connections there for micro USB and mini HDMI. Unscrewing the nut on the top allows you to slide the connections across and adjust that plastic pillow for the thinner/thicker tabs.

On the back of the dock, as you’d expect, there’s further connections for micro USB, mini HDMI and the mains. As with the stylus, no word on the price of this bad boy yet.


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