I bought a Motorola Xoom dual core tablet about six weeks ago in Philadelphia. The Xoom runs Android 3.1 "Honeycomb", and is a little different from what I've seen in the iPad. I had to speak on tablets at a number of conferences this year (including AICPA TECH+, Office Tools Pro, and others), and since the iPad2 didn't blow me away, I decided to do something different. I'm glad I did - the Xoom is a great tool, and I like the form factor (16x9 10.1" LCD) better than the iPad (which is a 4x3 10.1" layout).
1. I actually think the Honeycomb UI is better than the iPad UI, as you can create a "dashboard" with your appointments, mail, social media, etc. with widgets on the grid. The Xoom can be upgraded to Android 3.1, and I have done so. Some applications, like the Prey Project anti-theft tool don't work on it yet, and it’s still missing some apps – but a nice device.
2. Video is a problem. There's nothing like the iTunes video, but I've not spent much time fretting about it. Solution for media sync appears to be DoubleTwist, which will actually copy your iTunes files (although the DRM is not supported). You CAN sync with DoubleTwist over WIFi, but it's an extra $10. The tablet supports Flash, so the issue of video is probably one of me not spending enough time working with the tool to make the Flash video work OK. I hope Amazon makes their video work on it soon. You can buy some content in the Android Market, and it’s relatively painless to use.
3. The Economist is available on the Android Kindle application, and I use the new Zinio app for Android to look at my magazines (PC World, The Economist, Bloomberg Business Week, etc.) As such, if you have subscriptions to periodicals on your iPad and thinking about doing something different, you may want to see how you will be able to consume the content on the new tool. I miss my Wall Street Journal application, but the browser supports their website remarkably well, so I'm not completely locked out of the Journal. The new WSJ Android app isn’t working yet on Android 3.1, so I’ll have to review it later.
4. Battery life is so-so. Will spend some time working on this and report back on it later. I've not been turning it completely off, and the Wi-Fi in sleep mode seems to use up some battery life. I’d estimate the battery life (with the screen at “somewhat like the sun” brightness) at about 8 hours of active use.
5. The Google integration is awesome, and it performs notably faster than my phone (as you would expect).
6. There aren't many apps for the tablet, but you can do pretty much anything you would need an app for on a phone in the browser on a tablet. Firefox for Android rocks, and is really nice on a dual core processor. The accounting software publishers have largely adopted iOS and BlackBerry OS for their vertical applications, but I think the rumored entrance of Amazon into the tablet market will shift some significant momentum to Android. You can get the BNA Tax Rates app, and all of the publishers I've talked to this year want to do something with Android.
7. Accessories are limited and hard to find (as you would expect). I'm currently using a pleather Motorola folder, and would like to get a nicer leather case, but can't find one that doesn't look cheap. Like any good engineering company, Motorola has developed a range of sturdy, useful, and hideously ugly accessories (think: digital pocket protectors) to go with the Xoom. Hopefully the third parties will jump in - but who knows? My Zagg bluetooth keyboard for my original iPad works fine, but it doesn't fit well in the slot to hold it up.
8. My family (who hasn't drank the Apple Kool-Aid) likes the Xoom better than the iPad 1 we have. No Skype video yet, but I've not spent much time looking for an effective video chat solution.
9. There is an Adobe PDF creator for $9.99 which will convert Office files and images to PDF - very cool. I have not located a suitable PDF markup tool yet, but I'm sure there's one out there. If any of you know of one, please let me know.
The device charges with this needle-like proprietary plug, so you can't charge it effectively with MicroUSB. It does have a built-in Micro-HDMI port, and I've been racking my brain to figure out how to get that over to an analog VGA cable for presentations, to no avail. It probably can be done, but would likely require a Rube Goldberg-type combination of adapters to accomplish. (I will play with it on the TV set later.)
The thing which I think would make a killer application for this would be something which would let you pair your Android phone to your tablet for places where you would like to have some synergy between the two devices. For example, if you were on the phone with someone, I'd like the tablet to be able to securely poll the name/info of the party you're talking to and bring up their contact information in a CRM system. I understand that this was the idea with the Playbook, but I can't wait for it to get Android compatibility or even something as simple as a calendar application.
In summary, it's a great device, but you have to work harder to get it to do the same things as an iPad. There are some things, like the widgets, which are better than anything I've seen on the iPad, but the device isn't saddled with the "it's so uncool" mantra that plagues Windows slates. If Amazon comes out with an Android tablet, I think it will make Android a more robust competitor with iOS.
Comments? Either respond below, or send me a tweet (@BFTCPA).