Posts tagged xoom
Existing users of Motorola Xoom and Xoom WiFi in India will receive an update from Android 3.0 to Android 3.1 over the air on July 29, the handset manufacturer has announced. The announcement concurs with an earlier report of The Mobile Indian.
The most notable of the new features, the 3.1 update activates the SD card slot so users can expand the memory of their Motorola Xoom up to 64GB, with the addition of a 32GB SD card. This update also includes improved multi-tasking, providing instant visual access to a large number of applications as well as resizable home screen widgets for Gmail, Calendar and Browser.
Android 3.1 improves UI transitions, both within the system and across standard apps, says Google. Examples include an optimized transition between the Launcher and the Apps list. Color, positioning, and text have all been tweaked for ease of use, and there is now a consistent audible feedback throughout the UI,
In addition, users are now said to be able to customize the touch-hold interval.
On the hardware front, Android 3.1 adds USB host support, as well as automatic hardware detection to support more USB accessories. Users can now attach "almost any type of external keyboard or mouse," and support has been added for PC joysticks and gamepads that are connected over USB or Bluetooth, says the company.
It will also bring, to the Motorola Xoom, support for most PC joysticks and gamepads that connect over USB or Bluetooth.
The Android 3.1 update will also enable the users to transfer picture directly from camera, so users can connect their cameras over USB and import their pictures to the gallery with a single touch.
Android 3.1 adds a WiFi lock feature that enables a continuous WiFi connection even when the device the screen is turned off. This enables users "to play continuous streamed music, video, and voice services for long periods, even when the device is otherwise idle." Besides, the Android 3.1 upgrade promises to bring Adobe Flash Player, as well as File Manager to the Xoom.
Google also announced it is adding movie rentals to Android Market. Starting today, thousands of movies starting at $2 a pop will be available, says the company. Users can rent a movie on their home computers, and then view it on their tablet or phone. Xoom users will get the feature today, and the update will roll out to Android 2.2 and above devices in the coming weeks.
The upgrade will be available over-the-air upgrade, which will trigger a notification window with the option for users to download the update immediately or at a later date. It can thereafter be downloaded manually by going to "Settings > About Tablet > System Updates". The upgrade is about 40MB in size. However, users must note here one thing that service providers do not provide over-the-air update. Hence, users may to upgrade their devices manually through Motorola’s website.
Other countries in Asia Pacific that will receive the same update include Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
The Android Honeycomb defeatists have already declared the Xoom a flop. While this might be true in financial circles, where savvy investors are looking for the companies that offer the best combination of high margins, and willing hordes of zombie like consumers foaming at the mouth for the latest product they release, Android users a bit too smart for this nonsense. Thankfully, a company called Asus has truly stepped up to the plate and created something magical. Read below for our detailed review and comparison on why we think the Asus Eee Pad Transformer is a particularly innovative and compelling product.
Reading the comments everyday like I do, I think it’s safe to say that intelligent, price conscious shoppers are sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the following:
- Prices of Honeycomb tablets to go down, maybe to as low as $350
- The number of apps for Honeycomb to grow and become available
- For the development community to kick into high gear and start producing some seriously innovative stuff
- For the majority of major companies to actually release their wares
So, What Makes the Perfect Honeycomb Tablet?
In all likelihood, people just want a good quality tablet that has great performance, a nice screen that is viewable under most circumstances, good build quality, excellent battery life, and basic, to-be-expected functionality, out of the box. Yes, this includes Flash and SD card functionality as well.
Right now, it’s looking like a repeat of the Netbook wars of 2009/2010. Currently, we have two companies, both from Taiwan, with substantial experience in playing the low margins game. Acer and Asus have debuted their respective offerings, and both are coming Stateside shortly.
Acer Iconia A500 Vs. Asus Eee Pad Transformer
While similarly positioned in terms of specs, there are a few differences that should not go unheeded. We’ve heard reports that both tablets are coming off the same manufacturing lines, most likely assembled by the same sets of hands. Nevertheless, lets see how they stack up!
Both tablets have the NVidia Tegra 2 system on a chip powering them, which is clocked at 1GHz with 1GB RAM. The Nvidia Tegra 2 Soc performs really well on Android 3.0 Honeycomb, so we should consider them very similar performance wise.
The Acer Iconia A500 tablet does contain twice the onboard storage, with 32GB versus the Transformers’ 16GB. Further to this, it also has a better quality front facing camera, and supposedly, a better warranty. Another important thing to know about the Transformer is that it has a microSD slot, as well as an additional full SD Card slot on the Keyboard dock, so theoretically, you could get 32GB+32GB+16GB for a total of 80GB of storage.
The Acer Iconia A500 is thicker & heavier, but just slightly. Further to this it is missing the wonderful keyboard dock addition that the Transformer has, which makes it virtually the same as all other tablets currently on the market, or set to be released shortly.
Strangely, it looks like Acer has dropped the ball on this one. A product sibling of the Iconia A500 is the Iconia W500, which is essentially the Windows Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde version of the A500. This particular model, while aesthetically identical, does come with a keyboard accessory very similar to that of the Eee Pad Transformer’s, but Acer has unfortunately decided that it was not ‘a good fit’ for the A500.
While we haven’t had a chance to compare two production models side by side, we did get a chance to feel them before. The Acer Iconia A500, while a good quality unit, had some flex to it which caused us some concern. Plus, we know that the Asus Eee Pad Transformer has a display with the brilliant IPS technology, that has a great viewing angle, and works well under sunlight. Additionally, the Asus Eee Pad’s display comes with Gorilla Glass, which we know from experience is incredible at resisting scratches.
Winner: Asus Eee Pad Transformer
Here we are talking about the difference of approximately $50, with the Asus Eee Pad Transformer set to be released for the price of $399.99, while the Acer Iconia A500 is being released at $449.99. We know these days, every bit counts.
It’s no secret we’re big fans of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. With it’s innovative form factor, great battery life, 2 SD Card slots, excellent IPS display, and Keyboard dock, we’re going to give it a big thumbs up!
“We continue to be an open source platform and will continue releasing source code when it is ready,” wrote Rubin on the Android Developer Blog. “As I write this the Android team is still hard at work to bring all the new Honeycomb features to phones. As soon as this work is completed, we’ll publish the code. This temporary delay does not represent a change in strategy.”
Google has championed its platform as the open alternative to Apple’s closed iOS system. That openness has been called into question recently, as Google has yet to release the Honeycomb source code to all developers and manufacturers.
Honeycomb is Android’s first tablet-optimized software release. Rubin cites the difference in form factor between tablets and phones as the reason Google hasn’t released Honeycomb’s source code to device manufacturers and developers.
Motorola is the exception: The company’s Honeycomb-fueled Xoom tablet has been on the market for more than a month, which makes Google’s decision to hold the code from wide release a bit mystifying.
Members of the Android industry showed faith in Google, however.
“They say they’re going to release it, I’m not gonna call them liars,” Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin told Wired.com in an interview. The Android OS is based on a version of the Linux OS, which has been an open source, collaborative platform since its release decades ago.
Rubin’s post also addressed questions raised in a recent Bloomberg story about Android’s level of control over its partners. Bloomberg wrote:
Over the past few months, according to several people familiar with the matter, Google has been demanding that Android licensees abide by “non-fragmentation clauses” that give Google the final say on how they can tweak the Android code — to make new interfaces and add services — and in some cases whom they can partner with.
Rubin combats this claim directly, stating Google’s so-called “anti-fragmentation program has been in place since Android 1.0,” citing a list of compatibility requirements manufacturers must adhere to in order to market a device as “Android-compatible.”
He’s referring to Android’s compatibility test suite, or CTS, an automated litmus test to measure whether or not a piece of hardware can claim to run Android.
“Our approach remains unchanged: There are no lock-downs or restrictions against customizing UIs,” wrote Rubin.
Motorola vouches for Rubin’s statement.
“In the time since we’ve started working with Google, our relationship has matured, but it isn’t any more limiting than it ever has been,” Christy Wyatt, Motorola’s VP of mobile software development, told Wired.com. “I don’t believe that anything has changed in the CTS since the beginning.”
Finally, Rubin emphatically denied other rumors of ARM-chipset standardization in the platform, much of which arose in the wake of an anonymously sourced DigiTimes story.
“There are not, and never have been, any efforts to standardize the platform on any single chipset architecture,” Rubin wrote. With the Nexus One, Google’s first flagship phone, the company worked with Qualcomm to install its 1-GHz Snapdragon ARM processors in the HTC-manufactured handsets. The subsequent Nexus S came equipped with Samsung’s 1-GHz Hummingbird processor, which is also based on ARM architecture.
It’s out of character for Rubin and Android to post such a defensive update. Usually, rumors circulating in the media are usually given a brusque “no comment” by Google’s communications team.
But the title of Rubin’s post — “I think I’m having a Gene Amdahl moment” — explains it all. Amdahl coined the acronym FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) in 1975. After leaving IBM to form his own IT company, Amdahl claimed he suffered attacks by IBM sales staff attempting to undermine his new venture.
All of this negative attention isn’t good for Android’s “open” image, and maybe that’s what overcame Rubin’s reluctance to speak: too much FUD about Android’s future.
Whether or not this FUD is warranted, however, remains to be seen.
Motorola’s big launch of CES 2011 and the first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet on the market, the Motorola XOOM has a lot to live up to. In its haste to reach Verizon shelves, the XOOM could seem a little half-baked; it doesn’t get Flash Player support for another few weeks, and won’t have 4G until an update sometime in Q2. Still, as the iPad has shown, there are undoubtedly benefits to being first out of the gate, and there’s undoubtedly plenty on offer. Can the XOOM bypass pricing skepticism? Check out the full SlashGear review after the cut.
Hardware and Performance
Motorola’s design is sober and discrete, and where the iPad shows off its brushed metal the XOOM seemingly prefers to let the 10.1-inch display do the talking. It’s a 160dpi, 1280 x 800 WXGA panel with a capacitive touchscreen supporting multitouch gestures, and while it doesn’t use the same IPS technology as the Apple slate, it still manages decent viewing angles. We’ve had no issues with touchscreen responsiveness, though at 9.8 x 6.61 x 0.51 inches and 25.75oz it’s a somewhat heavy device, and one-handed use can get tiring.
Inside, NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 is calling the shots, a dual-core 1GHz SoC paired with 1GB of DDR2 RAM and 32GB of integrated storage. Although the XOOM has a microSD card slot, currently the tablet doesn’t support it; similarly, there’s an LTE SIM slot – filled with a blanking card – but that won’t be used until Verizon updates the tablet to 4G in Q2 2011. Instead, you get EVDO Rev.A, WiFi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, along with USB 2.0 and mini HDMI ports. Motorola is readying a WiFI-only XOOM, but that isn’t expected until later in the year.
We’ve seen sensors of various types proliferate on smartphones, and the XOOM ups the ante. As well as GPS, an accelerometer, digital compass, ambient light sensor and gyroscope, there’s a barometer for measuring air pressure. So far there’s no actual use for it in Honeycomb, but since it’s available for third-party developers to tap into via the Android 3.0 APIs, it’s only a matter of time before somebody takes advantage.
On the front is a 2-megapixel fixed-focus camera and a tricolor notification LED, though no physical controls, while on the back is a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with a dual-LED flash. It’s flanked by stereo speakers and the power/standby button. The only other hardware control is the volume rocker on the left hand edge. A 3.5mm headphone socket is on the top edge of the slate.
While the hardware of the Xoom is notable, it’s not the real story. The real story is all about Android, and the next stage of its evolution – namely Honeycomb. Version 3.0 of the mobile operating system represents a significant change for just about every aspect of the user interface, and some notable alterations under the surface as well. As we’ve extensively covered, UI wunderkind Matias Duarte left Palm to work for Google less than half a year ago, and seems to have immediately dived into the work that he does best – reinventing user interfaces and user interaction for mobile devices.
The Honeycomb look and feel certainly has the work of a single mind written all over it – while we know this is very much a team effort (something we discussed with Matias in our interview at CES), it’s also clear that someone is steering the ship with far more resolve than ever before witnessed in this OS. From a purely visual standpoint, Android 3.0 comes together in a far more cohesive manner than any previous iteration of the software, and the changes aren’t just cosmetic. Much of the obscurity in the OS and arcane functions of this software have been jettisoned or drastically changed, making for an experience that is far more obvious to a novice user… though we wouldn’t exactly describe it as simple.
From a visual standpoint, we could most easily explain that Android 3.0 looks very much like the world of Tron. Think soft focus neon and cold, hard digital angles. A homescreen which phases between panels with a blue, ghosting glow that represents your last and next page. When you place items on the homescreens, you see a distant patchwork of grid marks, and a vector outline of where your icon or widget will eventually land. Even in the app list, you see electric blue representations of your icons before the icons themselves. The effect is angular, but the feel is still very human – like a cross between the "chromeless" environment of Windows Phone 7, and the photorealism of webOS or iOS. It absolutely works. From the overall look and feel down to the method in which you get widgets onto your pages or change the wallpaper, everything is new here.
Unlike Apple and it’s single-minded iOS, however, Android is still filled with variables and choices which make general navigation a learning process, and even though Honeycomb has made huge inroads to making that process simpler, it’s not 100 percent there. The general vibe of Android is still present here – you have a series of homescreens which are scrollable, and can be loaded up with a variety of application shortcuts, folders, shortcuts, and widgets. Unlike most mobile OSs, Honeycomb places the status bar along the bottom of the device, and then fills the left side of that bar with the constant pieces of navigation you’ll use to get around the OS.
Yes, gone are the hardware buttons of yesteryear – 3.0 replaces the familiar home and back buttons with virtual incarnations, then adds a couple of extra pieces for good measure. Along with those two main buttons, Honeycomb introduces a multitasking icon which pops open a list of recently used apps along with a snapshot of their saved state. The back button is also a little more dynamic in 3.0, shifting between a straightforward back key, and a keyboard-hider when necessary. If your app utilizes the menu key on Android phones, you get an icon for that as well. The home button will take you back to your main views, but it can’t get you to your apps. Instead, Honeycomb introduces a new (and somewhat confusing) button – an "apps" icon which lives in the upper right hand corner of your device. You might think that comes in handy, but you can only access your app pages from the homescreen of the tablet, meaning that you have to use a two step process to get to your app list. We’re not totally clear on why this isn’t another button that lives along the bottom of the device with the rest of the navigation, and frankly it proved confusing when we were trying to get around the Xoom quickly.
On the right side of that status bar are your battery and time indicators, along with a pop-up area for notifications. The whole structure of the status bar feels weirdly like Windows. When you get a new email or Twitter mention, you’re alerted in that righthand corner with an almost Growl-like box, which fades away quickly. When you tap on that space, you’re given a time and battery window where you’re also able to manage notifications (though strangely there’s no option to clear all notifications). A settings button present there will also allow you to change your brightness and wireless settings, orientation lock, or jump to the full settings of the device. In all, it’s a tremendously convenient piece of this new OS, but not a new OS trick by any means. The desktop feels alive and well in Honeycomb.
In applications like the browser – which is now far more like a desktop version of Chrome (with proper tabs and all) – you also get the sense that Google is taking a lot of cues from familiar places. Besides just offering bigger views and more real estate, there are drop down menus (located in the upper-right hand corner) and far more of the navigational items exposed. In fact, in all of the new native applications, there is no menu button present. All of the key elements of navigation are front and center, usually along the top of the app’s display, which should make for an easier time when it comes to getting things done, but can create confusing situations. For instance, in Gmail, your items in the upper right of the app change based on the context; that’s good for managing messages in one view, but creates some head-scratching moments in others. Worse, the back button (which you use frequently) is in the exact opposite corner, meaning that your gaze is constantly shifting between two places on the tablet – two places that are furthest apart. The experience encourages a lot of eye-darting, which makes quickly managing tasks somewhat of a chore. We wish that Google had somehow combined the app navigation and tablet navigation into a more closely related space, so that instead of jumping from corner to corner, you were able to focusing on one place for operation of the app, and another for its content. We found ourselves having this same experience all over the Xoom.
On the plus side (and it is a big plus), the Xoom feels much more like a real netbook or laptop replacement. Being able to multitask in the manner Google has devised, having properly running background tasks, and real, unobtrusive notifications feels really, really good in the tablet form factor. Additionally, the fact that Google has included active widgets that plug right into things like Gmail makes monitoring and dealing with work (or play) much more fluid than on the iPad.
One other big note: a lot of the new software feels like it isn’t quite out of beta (surprise surprise). We had our fair share of force closes and bizarre freezes, particularly in the Market app and Movie Studio. Most applications were fine, but there definitely some moments where we felt like the whole device was teetering on the brink of a total crash.
That said, there are some significant changes to stock applications and new additions to the family that we thought were worth a slightly deeper look, so here’s a breakdown of what you can expect — both old and new — when you open the Xoom box.
We loved the browsing experience on the Xoom. The included app is (as we said) far more like a desktop version of Chrome, and if you’re already using the software on your laptop or desktop, you’ll feel right at home. Pages displayed quickly and cleanly on the tablet, though we have to admit that we’re more than a little miffed that Flash support isn’t present out of the box with the Xoom. Strange considering this is one of the real advantages Android devices have over Apple’s offerings.
Despite our enjoyment, there were some maddening issues, like the fact that the browser still identifies as an Android phone, meaning most sites with a mobile view end up on your big, beautiful browser tab. Given how close this version is to the real Chrome, we’re surprised Google wasn’t a little more proactive about this.
Gmail has been completely redesigned for Honeycomb, and it’s a big upgrade. We’d love to say that it’s all rainbows and butterflies, but there are some nagging problems that come along with the changes, and we’re hoping Google will clean it up a bit moving forward. The application seems to generally suffer from UI overload; there have always been a lot of hidden features in Gmail for Android, and now that those hidden elements are brought to the surface, it creates a feeling that you’re never in a single place. As with other parts of the OS, we found ourselves jumping to and fro trying to locate UI elements and get work done. Adding confusion to this new layout is the fact that menus now change contextually based on what you’ve selected, which means that not only are you dealing with scattered navigational items, but those items can change on the fly while you’re working.
Maybe we’re just too addicted to Gmail as it is now, but this incarnation feels splintered to us.
The battery is amazing. The battery is slick, works amazing, and can basically sit around working forever. The longest we’ve had it working with HEAVY use was over 14 hours – while I’m writing this review, the unit has been on almost 20 hours with no charging and moderate usage, and the battery appears to only be a half-empty. A full recharge take a total of around 3 hours – that’s starting at zero and ending up at completely full.
Connectivity and Price
You’ll be attaching to the rest of the world via EVDO Rev.A, WiFi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and USB 2.0. You wont be able to make voice call out of box, and your plan with Verizon won’t be including voice calls, thusly if you’d like to call someone up you’ll want to hook yourself up with a voice over IP (VoIP) client or something along the lines of Skype. I’m sure you know the situation you’ll be in here as it’ll be very similar to what you’re doing with your desktop or laptop for calls.
You’re working with a 3G connection here for at least a couple of weeks if you purchase one at the same moment I write this review, and ith that you’ll be able to activate a mobile hotspot to connect the rest of your devices. Currently you’re able to purchase the XOOM direct from Verizon for $599 just so long as you attach it to a 2-year plan that starts at $20 per GB and $20 per additional GB, after which it’s $10 per additional GB on higher plans: 3GB for $35, $50 for 5GB, or $80 for 10GB — none of these has any sign of an additional fee for the hotspot, which means you’ll just be paying for the data no matter which way you’re utilizing it.
It’s about time… isn’t it? The music app in Honeycomb has been completely, mercifully rethought, and it is stunning. As you can see in the above photo, gone is the amateurish and drab Android player. It’s now been replaced with a dimensional, 3D interface that isn’t just good looking, it’s actually useful. There are 2D views when you jump into albums and playlists, but the flipbook navigation is actually not bad for finding your music. Unfortunately, the Xoom seemed to have trouble recognizing all of our album art, and there were some issues with album art doubling up (our Engadget podcast logo seemed to get glued to another album). Minor issues aside, we’re impressed with the work Google has done here.
Like the Music app, YouTube has gotten a revamp here. Keeping in line with the 3D feel of the Honeycomb interface, you’re presented with a wall of videos which you can pan through — kind of like your own wall of TVs (if TV had nothing but clips of people dancing and / or injuring themselves). If you’ve always wanted to feel like Ozymandias from the final pages of Watchmen, here’s your chance.
Playing videos was pretty much a standard YouTube experience… which unfortunately these days seems to mean watching for stuff to buffer. A lot.
We love the version of Google Talk present in Honeycomb. Not only does it provide clear, seamless integration with accounts you already use, but the way it utilizes both voice and video conversations is terrific.
The app itself is fairly straightforward, but it did take a little bit of head scratching before we figured out exactly how to move between voice, chat, and video. Our callers on the other end of the line said video quality was a bit on the low res side (see the photo above – Xoom up top, MacBook Pro camera in the corner) even on WiFi. We’re not sure why that would be the case, but hopefully it can be cleared up with some software tweaking.
Overall, however, the new Google Talk works in perfect harmony with the Xoom.
I’m not sure how much better an Android tablet can get right now – and this is the first one we’ve reviewed here at BGR. The Motorola XOOM packs a serious punch, and doesn’t have room to store an ice pack. I love that Motorola has been pushing forward with innovate ideas and concepts, most notably with the ATRIX 4G, and the XOOM isn’t an exception. It features great hardware, impressive specifications, and the latest Android OS designed just for tablets. There are many things to rave about with the XOOM, though there were some annoyances and frustrations that stemmed from Google’s OS for the most part and not from Motorola’s hardware.
Tablets are the new craze, and while they are selling, I personally still don’t see a huge need to have a tablet. As a toy used to discover new and incredible apps, and to use for 20 or 30 minutes a day to read and catch up on Twitter or do some emailing, sure. But the XOOM definitely can’t replace a laptop. I think that the Motorola XOOM is a great product, I’m just not 100% sold on Honeycomb at this point as an operating system. I don’t believe it’s very innovative, and I don’t find it to be any better than alternatives in terms of ease of use, intuitiveness, or wide availability of apps. With that said, the Motorola XOOM goes on sale tomorrow in the U.S. for $599 with a two-year service agreement, and I’m sure plenty of people will thoroughly enjoy it despite the aforementioned shortcomings.
Motorola Xoom Review: The First Android Honeycomb Tablet Is Expensive, But Is It Worth It? [We Test Out The Xoom And Its Tegra 1GHz Processor, 10-inch Screen and Android 3.0 Goodness.
There’s been a lot of talk about the Motorola Xoom lately. The 10-inch widescreen tablet is the first to carry the tablet-ready Android 3.0 and the rest of its technical specs read like a wish list, but more recently, its high price has drawn attention and headlines to the device. So, after spending some time with the device, is the Motorola Xoom worth the high price that it’ll cost you?
- Price: $599 with a 2 year data plan ($799 without a plan).
- CDMA 800/1900 and with a free upgrade to LTE later this year
- Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)
- 5 MP camera and 2 MP front camera with flash, focus & digital zoom. Pictures and Video’s
- Media enabled, Music & Video on the device or streaming
- close to 9 hrs battery lifeÂ over 3G and 10 hrs over wifi, standby time is close to 14 days
- Email, Google mail, corporate, pop3/imap
- Google talk
- Bluetooth 2.1
- Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n
- Data sync via Micro USB port to USB (no Charging)
- Headset jack
- Adobe Flash player
- Android Market place (limited in applications optimized for tablets)
- Googl Services, Maps, Talk, Ebooks, YouTube
- Multi touch screen
- Voice Commands
- Live wallpapers
- 10.1 inch WXGA 1280×800 px screen.
- HD 720p
- 730 grams
- 32 GB memory expandable with micro sd card
- 1 GHZ Dual core processor
- Accelerometer, Gyroscope, proximity, ambient light, barometer
Hardware and Performance
This is a machine that has been released with its hardware ready and raring to go. Isn’t that supposed to be something that goes without saying? Yes, of course! You might find that the same cannot entirely be said about the software, though, thus the pre-mention here – more on that in the next section. What we’ve got to speak about here first is the loveliness in the physical bits.
This device is black. It’s very clearly supposed to be a blank canvas on which you’re meant to paint your first tablet experience. Because this tablet is being released in a world where one slate’s dominated the market for the first full year of the market being a reality, there’s two situations the vast majority of consumers are in. The first possible situation consumers are in whilst thinking about the XOOM is one where they’ve had an iPad – the second is one where they’ve never had a tablet at all. Thusly, the hardware choice is more than likely one where a consumer has been holding a tablet that’s basically the exact same size and weight as the XOOM, or they’ve had a much smaller smartphone and will be what they see as moving upward.
When one handles the 10.1-inch WXGA display with 160dpi, 1280 x 800 resolution, they instantly must consider the .8 x 6.61 x 0.51 inch device holding it, one that weighs in at 25.75oz (1.61lbs,) as it’s not especially realistic to be holding the device with one hand for more than a few minutes at a time. Then there’s the glossy, glossy screen. It’s so very glossy, it’s basically impossible to use anywhere near sunlight or a lamp. On the other hand, if you’re going to be using this device on your couch at home, at your desk in school, or for odd events like using it to show the 4D-sonogram doctor some 2D-sonogram pictures in a gallery. For that it works exceedingly well, indeed.
It doesn’t seem to our fingers that the screen’s response time and touch sensitivity could possibly be any better, and the monster motor inside is more than ready to back this situation up. You’ll find the NVIDIA Tegra 2 inside, a dual-core 1GHz SoC paired with 1GB of DDR2 RAM and 32GB of integrated storage. If that’s not enough to flip your lid, connections include EVDO Rev.A, WiFi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, along with USB 2.0 and mini HDMI ports. In the future you’ll be able to have the following instead and/or as well: a functional LTE SIM slot, a functional microSD card slot, and a whole separate Wifi-only version of the device.
What’s the web saying about Honeycomb?
Engadget (Joshua Topolsky): “a lot of the new software feels like it isn’t quite out of beta (surprise surprise). We had our fair share of force closes and bizarre freezes, particularly in the Market app and Movie Studio. Most applications were fine, but there definitely some moments where we felt like the whole device was teetering on the brink of a total crash.”
CrunchGear (John Biggs): “if you open too many apps, it slows down to a crawl. The horrors that Apple seems to have avoided in iOS are readily apparent here. I had quite a few app crashes and many apps designed for 2.x devices crashed. Google Body, remade for Honeycomb, crashed every other try”.
WSJ ( Walt Mossberg): “I’ve always felt that Android had a rough-around-the edges, geeky feel, with too many steps to do things and too much reliance on menus. But Honeycomb eliminates much of that”. He went on to point out: “I found numerous apps in the Android Market that wouldn’t work with the Xoom”.
GigaOM (Kevin Tofel): “Honeycomb still has bugs to be worked out. Aside from some third-party apps crashing, the Android Market has crashed on me twice in a short time. And after Facebook crashed, the Facebook widget became completely non-responsive.” There’s good stuff too as Tofel also points out “Notifications are excellent, and competitors should take note.”
Slashgear (Vincent Nguyen): “The first batch of Honeycomb slates may have some wrinkles – the missing Flash and paucity of video codec support being two examples – but 2011 definitely looks to be the year that Android tablets will come of age.”
Cameras and Multimedia
There are two cameras on the XOOM, one on the back for photos and video, and another on the from primarily for video, but also for not-quite-great photos if that’s what you’d like to use it for. The back-facing camera is a 5-megapixel unit with auto-focus and dual-LED flash. The front-facing camera is 2-megapixels strong, has a fixed-focus, and can be switched to at the tap of a button. What you’re about to see here is a video example from both the front and the back cameras filmed by yours truly.
The back-facing camera is capable of capturing 720p HD video at 30fps, while a 1080p upgrade is promised for the future, while the front-facing camera’s recording capabilities really aren’t worth pecking about. Allow the video above to speak for itself as far as how this all translates to the web. As far as how well it plays back on the device, you’ve got the capability currently of displaying 1080p video on either the device’s screen or via the HDMI 1.4 output which you’ll be shooting out with the cable bundled with the tablet.
If you want to play any video you didn’t film with the device outside the web, it’ll need to be MP4, WebM, 3GP, or H.264/H.263. You could, on the other hand, download a third-party media player and roll with whatever format you can get working on your own. You’ll be rolling strong plopping videos on the device if you’re working with Mac OS X by working with the brand new Android File Transfer, which, if I may be so bold, makes the whole process of accessing the files on your Android device a WHOLE lot easier. Hopefully it works on all versions here on out (currently it works with Android 3.0 only.)
Of course, there’s the lack of Flash player. You’ll need to wait at least another week or two(?), or so, to be sent the update for this and the other things you’ll need to have a “fully” functional device. The ability to work with and watch movies with Flash player has been a big fat point of contention on devices over the past year or so – it’s no less a situation here. But it’s on the way!
The battery is amazing. The battery is slick, works amazing, and can basically sit around working forever. The longest we’ve had it working with HEAVY use was over 14 hours – while I’m writing this review, the unit has been on almost 20 hours with no charging and moderate usage, and the battery appears to only be a half-empty. A full recharge take a total of around 3 hours – that’s starting at zero and ending up at completely full.
The purpose of this overview is not to bash Honeycomb; there are lots of great features that Google has produced in this first tablet version. But that’s the problem: I’m not sure Google has the luxury of time to get the tablet experience nailed down to the point it is ready for consumer adoption. The recurring mention of crashes in early reviews is not something we should be hearing about a shipping product, and with the XOOM Honeycomb is indeed now shipping. Honeycomb needed to come out swinging for the fence, but it’s still in batting practice.
I suspect the state of Honeycomb had a lot to do with HTC choosing to go with an earlier version of Android for its upcoming Flyer tablet. It would not product a tablet with a glitchy OS. I also believe that what I’ve seen (in person) of webOS on the HP TouchPad is a better and more solid experience on a tablet. Google has its work cut out for Honeycomb, and better move quickly.
Root access is now available on the just-released Wifi-only Motorola Xoom, thanks to some enterprising XDA members. The rooting process involves using the Android SDK, as well as a fair amount of command-line wizardry, so it’s certainly not for the feint-hearted. You’ll also be on your own if something goes wrong, as rooting will almost certainly void your warranty.
Still, if you think the prospect of owning a rooted Honeycomb tablet is worth the risk of potentially owning a bricked Honeycomb tablet, then hit the source link to find a complete list of files, along with rooting instructions.
If you’re interested in rooting your Verizon-branded Xoom, be sure to check our earlier post for instructions. [XDA]
Wifi-only Xoom gets its own root method posted originally by Android Central
Sponsored by Android Cases and Accessories
The Motorola Xoom, is the first android 3.0 tablet to hit the market, we already gone through our first hardware impression of the device, you can read it here. But I can tell you I do like the hardware is solid overall and worth complement to the OS. So what makes the Xoom different from other tablet and what sets it apart. Two things, its the first Android 3.0 Tablet, so it sets the standard for other to follow, and a good one at that . A solid camera hardware finish feel good, device as a sturdy feel in the hands, the ability to stream video out via a HDMI out port. Secondly Android 3.0 has really taken a big step into the Tablet arena.
They say specs aren’t everything, but the XOOM’s hardware is powerful enough to make any tech geek drool:
- 10.1-inch 16:10 WXGA (1280×800) LCD display
- 2MP webcam
- 5MP rear cam capable of recording 720p HD video
- 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor
- Stock Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)
- 1GB DDR2 RAM
- 32GB internal storage
- 3250 mAh 24.1 watt-hour lithium ion polymer battery
- WiFi 802.11b/g/n
- EVDO Rev. A radio upgradeable to LTE
And now that your interest has been piqued, I present to you the short, "in a nutshell" version of the review:
Pros & Cons
- Honeycomb’s UI is stunning. Stunning.
- Honeycomb apps are miles ahead of their mobile counterparts in terms of both functionality and interface
- Full HDMI capabilities
- Powerful dual-core CPU and 1 GB of RAM provide all the power you could ever want (and then some)
- Beautiful 10.1-inch display
- Steep $600 on-contract / $800 off-contract price tag
- No Flash at launch
- No LTE out of the gate; upgrade won’t be available for about 90 days and will take 6 business days to complete
- SD card functionality not yet available
- Honeycomb apps are few and far between (at least for now)
Motorola’s XOOM is a large tablet with a wide-screen 10.1-inch touchscreen display. The display offers a 16:10 aspect ratio and 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, which is great, but it lacks the brightness, color saturation, and overall visual appeal of the display found on its arch-rival, the iPad. It is entirely passable, but it just doesn’t offer much in terms of wow factor.
The rest of the hardware, however, is pretty solid. It is very well constructed and feels comfortable to hold. Some people might complain about the power button that sits on the back of the device, but I find its position to be natural when the XOOM is held in landscape mode. The rear facing speakers, however, are a problem. They don’t sound great to start with and supply sound better to everybody else in the room than to the XOOM’s user. That’s a design error. The 3.5mm headphone jack sits on the top edge of the XOOM, which I also feel is a poor choice.
When viewing the device in landscape mode, the power port, micro-USB data port, and micro-HDMI port are located on the bottom edge, where they can connect to the two different dock accessories that Motorola offers. It’s annoying that the XOOM uses a non-standard charger, but Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is the same way.
The rear cover of the XOOM is not user removable, so there is no access to the battery. It features a matte finish that looks nice, but shows more finger prints than would a more typical soft-touch paint. The 5 megapixel camera and its dual-LED flash sit near the power button and the speakers. The layout works as well as could be expected, but the truth is that a huge tablet is not a good device for snapping photos or videos. The 2 megapixel camera that sits on the front of the device is perfectly placed for video chatting, though.
Apart from the volume keys on the left edge of the device, there are no other external controls. Unlike the smartphone version of Android, the main controls for things like back and home are on-screen, not dedicated hardware or touch sensitive buttons.
There are two as-yet unused hardware features on the Motorola XOOM. Under one cover on the top edge of the device sit the microSD memory card slot and the SIM card slot for LTE 4G data support. The microSD memory card is not usable at this time, but will be enabled in a future OS update. The free upgrade to LTE 4G data support will require a trip back to Motorola, and will take over a week for most people when you include shipping time, but won’t require any change of data plan or additional monthly fees.
Since I have them at my disposal, I’ll touch on the accessories that can be bought to work with the XOOM. There are two docks available, as I alluded to earlier. The smaller dock offers charging and an auxiliary 3.5mm audio jack, the larger features a built-in speaker, charging, and a micro-HDMI cable pass-through. The larger model also requires a different charger for some unfathomable reason. The built-in speakers in the HDMI model are not great, but better than those in the XOOM itself. The last accessory is the Bluetooth keyboard that I am using to type this review. It has great key feel, and I can’t imagine not using it now, but it (or the OS) often suffers from a stuck key problem during prolonged use.
Though it may not have the viewing angles of the iPad’s IPS display, the XOOM definitely holds its own when it comes to the all-important screen. As can be seen from the photo above, the 10.1-inch LCD’s 1280×800 WXGA resolution looks really crisp, and colors are vibrant and bright, just the way I like it.
I’d argue that the real story with the XOOM’s display isn’t its quality, however; what’s most important here is the 16:10 aspect ratio. And I, for one, found the widescreen form factor much more comfortable to use (as opposed to the 4:3 ratio found on tablets like the iPad) – as a result of this ratio, the keyboard is a lot broader, allowing for a much more pleasant typing experience. Similarly, HD movies look marvelous on the XOOM – unlike Apple’s slate, the bars across the top and bottom of the screen are nearly nonexistent. And games? Well, have a look:
The one downside of the super-wide shape is that it makes the XOOM look even worse in portrait mode. I suspect this is why Steve Jobs and co. decided to go with the rather squarish design of the iPad – when you turn the XOOM on its side, you find a strangely and ridiculously tall device.
Aspect ratios aside, I think the XOOM’s display is among the best you’ll find on any tablet, and I wouldn’t hesitate to call 10 inches the perfect size for a tablet (though I’m sure some of you will beg to differ).
When it comes to the new Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS, you can forget most everything you know about Android’s user experience. Having been designed from the ground up for tablets, almost nothing in Honeycomb is the same as on smartphones. In my opinion Google did a good job of designing the basic user interface in Honeycomb, on a macro scale, but failed to get a lot of the finer points right.
Let’s start with the new home screen, which I like. Users can swipe from one screen to the next with ease, and each screen can be configured with shortcuts, widgets, and wallpapers. That works. The main menu leaves me unimpressed, though. Sure there are multiple panels that users can swipe between, but you can’t re-order them or group them. Google had the chance to step up here, and once again failed to do so, leaving the task to the manufacturers to implement in future models that will have customized UIs. I do like that there is a separate tab that shows only user-installed apps, and appreciate that apps can be uninstalled by dragging them from the main menu to the trashcan. Newly installed will automatically show up on the home screen as a shortcut, too. That much is progress, at least.
Now on to the main navigation controls. The back, home, task-switcher, and (sometimes) menu buttons sit in the lower left hand corner of the display. The icons could have been better designed, in my opinion, but once you know what they are, they work. I dislike the fact that the menu button only appears some of the time, depending on the app. Some apps built for tablets use only a new control in the upper right hand corner of the screen (which is easy to reach), some use both, and older smartphone apps only use the menu button. That inconsistency bothers me. Google could have handled that better.
I mostly like the new notification area, which is found in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. The curtain is gone, replaced with a list of notifications that are accessed by tapping on the digital clock. Doing so lists all of the notifications and some quick access functions. My complaints are that there is no way to clear all notifications at once (clearing a list of 20 can be torture) and that some of the quick access buttons require too many taps. You can adjust screen brightness or disable notifications easily enough, but turning Wi-Fi on or off requires 5 screen taps (if you count the required back button press). Samsung and others already handle this type of functionality better on smartphones, so Google should have known better.
When it comes to applications, though, things get really awkward. Part of the problem is that there are very few apps that have been optimized for Honeycomb tablets. Very few, indeed. Most smartphone apps run in full screen mode (but not all), but when they do, font sizes are often too small, input boxes and list items too wide, and things just generally feel out of proportion. When you do find a good tablet optimized application, though, you start to understand the platform’s potential. Unfortunately, that potential has yet to be realized, and probably won’t be for some time to come.
Another real issue with apps is that the XOOM’s Honeycomb OS is just doesn’t appear to provide a stable enough platform. Apps that run perfectly fine on any of the 100+ Android smartphone models that exist can be hugely unstable when running on Honeycomb. Even Google’s own apps like YouTube, Android Market, and the new Browser have crashed on me multiple times. I should also report that the home button has failed to work a few times (blank screen) and the task switcher button will sometimes show no running apps, only to change its mind when you tap on it again. Don’t let the 3.0 designation fool you, folks. This is very much a 1.0 operating system release, and you will be reminded of that often.
Apps / App Store
The real downfall of Android 3.0 Honeycomb so far is application support. Not only are there fewer than two dozen tablet specific titles available from the Android Market as I write this, but compatibility with older titles is somewhat spotty. While most of the over 100,000 applications found in the Android market will work in full screen mode, some do not, and those that do are often less than optimal, offering small on-screen controls and fonts, and overly large text input boxes. Then there is the issue with many of the applications crashing, which is likely part of the "1.0" effect of Honeycomb being, in many ways, a brand new OS.
Since the Motorola XOOM runs a stock install of Android 3.0, there are few non-Google apps pre-loaded on the tablet apart from standard personal organizer apps like the Calendar (which syncs with Exchange and Gmail accounts). Google Maps, Navigation, Places, and Books are all there, and a pair of games are pre-loaded as well (Corby and Dungeon Defenders). The games show off the XOOM’s dual-core processor’s abilities and are cool to watch, too. While new titles are being added daily, any early adopters expecting to have access to a wide assortment of tablet-specific apps are going to be sorely disappointed.
Considering the size of its ow-screen keyboard and of the screen in general, it is no real surprise that the Motorola XOOM is a pretty good messaging platform. There is no support for text or picture messaging, though. There is also no built-in support for social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, but there is no shortage of free third party applications available to fill that void. The only instant messaging client loaded on the XOOM is Gtalk, which can be used not only for instant messaging but also for video chatting using the forward-facing camera. The quality, even over Wi-Fi, isn’t fantastic, but it is acceptable.
There are two pre-installed email applications on the XOOM. The first, Gmail, is a new multi-pane version of the popular and fully featured Gmail application seen on Android smartphones. Users are presented with nice views of the folders, message lists, and messages in a very organized and intuitive manner. On top of that, the Gmail client offers the features like Priority Inbox and threaded conversation views that users have come to expect from Gmail. The regular email app offers the same paned view as Gmail, and is equally nice to use, though it lacks some of the Gmail specific features I mentioned. Both offer full HTML email support with multi-touch zooming, which is a handy feature when you are working with a large, high-res display.
The web browser that ships with Android Honeycomb is quite different from the browser we find in Android smartphones. For starters, it offers true tabbed browsing, just as you would find on Google Chrome on the desktop. The Honeycomb browser even supports Chrome’s Incognito mode (for leaving no cookies or history of your browsing sessions) and will synchronize with Chrome’s bookmarks – even supporting bookmark folders. The new features are quite nice.
The browsing itself is generally quite fast and very accurate, but there are some glitches from time to time. Nothing huge, just some visual quirks during panning or zooming occasionally that clear themselves up. In the Labs section of the browsers settings you can enable an advanced UI mode that lets you drag browser controls onto the screen by swiping from the display’s edge – it’s pretty slick. The only real issue with the browser is that there is no Adobe Flash support yet. Adobe has said that we can expect proper Adobe Flash 10.2 support in a few weeks, though.
As mentioned in the ‘Display’ section, the XOOM’s widescreen display makes using the software keyboard a hell of a lot easier. But that’s not the only reason typing is such a pleasant experience on the tablet; Honeycomb’s keyboard is excellent in and of itself.
It provides squarish keys that closely mimic the ones on a physical keyboard, and you can long press any of them to bring up additional options like accented letters. The whole thing has a blue, Tron-ish theme that I quite appreciated, and I think even non-techie consumers will like it.
Of course, all the good looks in the world won’t help you if the keyboard isn’t easy to use, but I’m happy to report that Google’s really done a nice job here and made it very usable – in landscape mode, that is.
In portrait mode, typing is a nearly impossible task – it literally requires the slow and antiquated hunt-and-peck technique. Suffice to say, serious typists will either end up using the XOOM in landscape mode all the time or downloading a third-party keyboard from the Market.
Google has also made significant improvements on the cut-and-paste front. To bring up the menu seen in the photo above, simply double tap on some text. From there, you can drag the markers around to select the specific sentence, word, or paragraph you wish to cut / copy.
To paste, tap once in a text field, then tap on the marker that appears. This should bring up a ‘Paste’ button. Alternatively, you could follow the method for copying text, and if you already have something in the clipboard, you can simply tap the ‘Paste’ button next to ‘Copy.’
One other nice touch is that if you select text in the browser, you also have the option to share it, search the web for it, or find other uses of the word(s) on the page.
It’s all very well done, and I especially like how while selecting text, you can use multitouch to move both markers simultaneously.
Android 3.0 Honeycomb offers users an all-new music application. Navigation can be a little non-obvious at first, as is the case with many new tablet apps, but once you mess around with it for a short while, you understand what is going on. The app offers a very cool looking 3D rendered scrolling flow of album covers in the New and Recent section of the device, which I love, but offers nothing similarly interesting for the album, artist, playlist and other views that it offers. I don’t see why the cool interface should be restricted to that one section, especially one that I really have no use for.
At least the audio quality that the app and the XOOM put out is good. Good as long as you are using a decent pair of headphones, that is. The rear facing stereo speakers do an inadequate job of pushing out music to a room, as they sound very tinny and are facing the wrong way. Plugging the XOOM into the HDMI-capable speaker dock accessory changes the situation quite a bit for the better, though. I also want to mention that it is pretty easy to build playlists directly on the XOOM, and tracks can be rearranged with a simple drag of the finger.
Motorola doesn’t list the mAh rating for the battery in the XOOM, instead only offering that it is a 24.5 Watt-hour battery. Assuming that it uses the same voltage as Android smartphones (3.7v), then we can guess that the battery offers just over 6600mAh of power. In any case, Motorola claims the XOOM’s battery should be good for up to 9 hours of 3G web browsing, 10 hours of Wi-Fi web browsing, 3.3 days of music playback, 10 hours of video playback, or about 14 days of standby time.
In my experience, I can get a couple of days out of a full charge with my normal use, which involves mostly email and web browsing, but also some gaming. That’s good eough for me.
Alas, the XOOM and Android 3.0 still contain plenty of untapped potential, and until said potential is utilized, I can’t see an average consumer walking into a store and spending $799 for Moto’s tablet when he / she could pick up an equivalent iPad for $70 less. And honestly, I can’t see myself doing that either, as I’m confident that the XOOM’s price will soon drop (or other manufacturers will produce more affordable Honeycomb tablets), and it’s hard to find a compelling reason to spend $800 on a product purely because of its potential.
That said, Honeycomb is a great platform, and I can’t wait to see what developers will have done with it in a few months. Because in the long run, open always wins the race… even if it has a bit of a slow start.
Web development tools vendor Sencha examined Apple’s iPad 2 and Motorola’s Xoom running Google’s Android 3.0 Honeycomb, crediting Apple with "a top rate, no compromises HTML5 browser" while calling Android "not ready for primetime, even for HTML4."
Sencha’s "HTML5 Developer Scorecard" has profiled RIM’s mobile BlackBerry browser, Apple’s iOS Safari, and Google’s mobile browser in both Android 2.2 on the Galaxy Tab last fall, and the new tablet-optimized Android 3.0 appearing on the Motorola Xoom (and forthcoming Galaxy Tab and Acer Iconia Tab products later this summer).
While all of these mobile browsers are based upon WebKit, they’re not equal in their support for web standards. WebKit provides a rendering engine for handling DOM and CSS, but specific browsers based on it provide their own implementations of things like caching, screen drawing, location services, memory management, and usability features such as tabs, gestures, and printing.
In contrast, Sencha wrote, "our experience to date with Android has been lackluster, starting with the disappointing browser in the Galaxy Tab and the Xoom [running Android 3.0 Honeycomb]." Note that various Android licensees rarely replace or enhance Google’s included web browser, so Sencha’s findings on the Motorola Xoom will also relate to the web performance of other Honeycomb tablets, including new models from Acer, Samsung, and Toshiba.
The latest Android and iOS browsers both score 100/100 in the Acid3 test, but both exhibited rendering issues. Apple’s browser had "a few light red squares in the top right and in the bottom right of the test results," Sencha reported. "Without a doubt, the iPad 2’s Acid3 results are solid, but it would have been nice to see this come up to full compliance."
Google’s Android 3.0 browser in the Xoom "has two noticeable rendering bugs — first, the letters ‘Acid3’ are the wrong color and are missing the drop shadow. Second, in the top right there’s a small red box, which is an obvious rendering bug. The Xoom has a perfect numeric score, but it still fails Acid3," the site noted.
The firm next noted the findings of Modernizr, which reports the modern browser features each platform can support. "As we found in our earlier scorecards, just because a browser says something is there, it doesn’t mean it works," the company stated.
"Nearly all the major browser features are supported on the iPad 2," Sencha says. "Modernizr found support for SVG, CSS 2D transforms, CSS 3D transforms, CSS transitions, WebGL and Web Sockets. Interestingly enough, Modernizer reported that there was no Inline SVG although we were able to try a few demo sites and saw that it did in fact work, and it also reported that the browser supports WebGL, which we couldn’t get to work."
For Android 3.0, Sencha reported that "many features that were not supported in the Galaxy Tab [running Android 2.2] are now supported. Modernizr detects a fairly complete range of HTML5 features, including SVG, Inline SVG and CSS3 3D transformations. There are still features lacking such as WebGL support and Web Sockets and Web Workers." However, the firm again stated that "just because something is present, doesn’t mean it works," as it detailed in its performance tests.
In real world tests, Sencha observed that "Without a doubt, the iPad’s Mobile Safari browser has the best CSS3 support of any mobile browser we’ve seen," adding that in both complex animations and web ads, "the iPad 2 nails CSS3." Its tests also reported that "Canvas support on the iPad 2 is first rate," and in embedded HTML5 audio and video, "again, the iPad 2 nails it. Audio plays back quickly and lets you pause and resume. Video comes up quickly and streams without issue in the browser page. The iPad 2’s media support is solid."
In contrast, with the Android 3.0 Xoom Sencha reported that "CSS3 animations are almost completely broken. We often found even for the most basic animations the browser skipped frames, incorrectly rendered elements, or didn’t run the animation to completion. If Animations were simply slow, that would be one thing, but the Xoom CSS3 Animation support faces basic correctness issues."
In more complex animation tasks, Android 3.0 provides "an improvement from the Galaxy Tab [running Android 2.2]; the animations actually render. On the other hand, again, they render incorrectly. We found that text sometimes doesn’t appear, parts of the artwork are clipped incorrectly, fonts are rendered poorly, and frames of the animation are dropped. For some of the 3D effects, the browser simply drops the 3D or tries and fails to render the effects. For anything but the most basic CSS transitions and animations the Xoom does not make the grade."
A year after Apple shipped the iPad, Sencha says it is "still incredibly surprised that Google and Motorola have yet to build a mobile browser that has a correct and high-performance CSS3 implementation."
Sencha noted other improvements in Android 3.0, including support for SVG that was missing in the original Galaxy Tab’s Android 2.2. Tests of Canvas found "the framerate isn’t great but it does actually work. So generally speaking, Canvas support gets a gentleman’s C." In tests of embedded HTML5 audio and video, the firm said, "we are able to get HTML5 audio to work, although we find that sometimes the audio plays even after we left the page or even closed the browser. We were unable to get HTML5 video to work at all."
Overall web browser capabilities
"We were excited about the first true Android operating system for tablets and had high hopes for a mobile browser that was as powerful as the platform," Sencha observed regarding Android 3.0. "Sadly, the Xoom and Honeycomb are a real disappointment. We found consistent and reproducible issues in CSS3 Animations and CSS3 Transitions among other things. We had issues where the browser either hung or crashed. Regular scrolling was slow or below full framerate. We had issues where media playback failed or performed incorrectly. At times it felt like we were using a preproduction device, but we bought our test device from a Verizon Wireless store."
The report added, "until Google and Motorola ship a patch to update the browser to production quality, don’t expect good results from the Motorola Xoom. We said it in the Galaxy Tab review, and we’ll say it again now: we’re still waiting for the first awesome Android tablet."
In conclusion, the company reported, "Apple’s devices are leading the vanguard of mobile browser innovation and for the HTML5 app developer this is great news. We’re excited to see not only the rate at which Apple adds new features, but the quality of their implementation."
Have a look with us at the most dominant weather app in the Android world, this one optimized not only for Android 3.0 Honeycomb, but specifically for the giant screens that Honeycomb is meant for. This is WeatherBug, an app made by WeatherBug Mobile, and we’ve got it working on the Motorola XOOM. This app is not only free, it’s utterly professional, and the ads that make it free are basically completely hidden (or built in so well you don’t even notice them as out of place.
When you first open the app, you notice one thing – your location shows up. Of course, there’s several other locations that show up as well, but you’d like to see the temperature in New York, right? I would. Every other little bit of weather you could ever want to see, the same stuff you’d see on the screen whilst watching the daily news and weather on television. And more. Each city has a tiny arrow in the corner showing that you could click it, or click it twice quickly rather, and there’s even MORE information, like what time of the day the sun is going to rise and set – a feature we’d like all by itself, and here it is in a bigger more awesome app.
And all of this is on the first screen. It’s difficult to say anything negative about this app, and not at all because it’s totally free. The first page has weather information and forecast, the second page has a map that’ll show you a Weather Layer on top of Satellite and Traffic layers fed by Google, those layers adjustable by opacity and animation frames delivered as clouds pass by.
Yes there’s basically a bonus feature that consists of real-world photographs from participating locations in your city. How often are these photos updated? It’s unclear, but that’s alright. Clearly these photos are inside the… hour? We can see that it’s night, and that there’s snow on the ground. That seems pretty accurate for us. If these photos are updated inside the hour, all the better.
Since Accuweather fails at life as a widget on Android 3.0, it brings us great pleasure to inform you that Weatherbug for Honeycomb has been released and is available for free! It has a widget (small one) that actually works, you can set up multiple cities to track, and the UI is a knock-off of Android 3.0 that we 100% approve of. This is how you do a tablet app. Oh, and you’ll also notice a barometer reading because the XOOM has one, unlike some other tablets.
Download Link (free)
The final two features aren’t features really, they’re settings including Units, My Location, and Background Weather Updating, and a screen that’ll allow you to add cities to your list of watched locations. This feature is dense too in that you’re allowed to get quite specific on where you are as well as which weather station you’d like to follow. Well played!
There’s a stigma in the mobile world that hackers prefer Android systems because the SDK’s and software is open, therefore allowing users to customize how they please. Some hardware manufacturers on the other hand may not be totally supportive when it comes to users installing their own custom ROMs and OSs, like Motorola for example.
That isn’t stopping this user however, as he’s found a way to install another open source project onto the Motorola Xoom, and its not any variation of Android…it’s Linux Ubuntu 9.10. Looking at the instructions, I’d have to say that you would most likely completely void your warranty on the Xoom if you do this, but just make sure that if you try it, you have a good recovery ready for backup and restore, so you can get it back to factory condition if this goes south for any reason. The instructions are long, and not for the timid. Click the source link below for the full set of instructions if you’re an Ubuntu lover.