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A worthy rival to the iPad, the Motorola Xyboard 10.1 tablet

by seanw on April 28th, 2012

When I first fired up the Motorola Xyboard 10.1 tablet, I knew it was a cut above the other Android tablets. It has a big (10.1 inch), beautiful 1080p display and it just felt terrific to hold. The body is constructed of anondized aluminum and the gorilla glass front has a nano material covering that resists water damage and scratches. The weight is a great balance between too insubstantial and too heavy, it just feels like it weighs right. The dual 1.2GHz processor drives its performance.

I was happy to hang out in the living room playing Draw Something or watch videos. With its sturdy construction I felt comfortable slipping it into my purse to take along for work or fun. It was a lifesaver, ok a boredom-killer, when a trip to the Woodbridge DMV was prolonged due to computer issues.

The camera (it has two) is easy to use and fairly sharp (5MP) and it captures HD video as well. The speakers are fine for solo listening. There have been complaints about the power and volume being in the back, but I found that it meant fewer mistaken throwing of these controls. I love the included stylus as virtual keyboards and touch entry often mean inexact input. This is an elegant, well-apportioned device.

The DC area is a robust 4G market with Verizon Wireless and this was the machine to take advantage of the much faster network. Downloading or streaming a video? No problem. Updates arrived in seconds, photos uploaded quickly–4G almost eliminates the feeling that you are using cellular data. I seriously never even noticed the difference in speed between my home computer network speeds over wifi and the speed of working with 4G.

People love Apple products for two reasons. One is the quality of the hardware. Motorola surely rivals the dominance of the iPad in the tablet market in this regard. It is a well-built, elegant machine. It has more features than the iPad–an infrared blaster that allows you to control your home theatre with the pre-installed Dijit app. It also has a mini HDMI output so you can output video to your larger screens.The iPad doesn’t have 4G and can’t serve as a hotspot.

The second reason is where the Xyboard suffers in comparison to the iPad, the OS that runs on it. Apple develops its hardware and software together, allowing for a streamlined experience. The Xyboard currently runs on a version of Google’s Android system that was designed for smartphones, not tablets. The update to the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android which is developed with tablets in mind is due in “Q3″ according to Motorola’s site. The software as is works well, but the experience using some of the apps designed for it is less enjoyable than the iPad versions. One counter to this is that there are two thriving app markets for Android (Google’s rebranded Play market and the Amazon Android market) as opposed to being tied to just the Apple app markets.

The Xyboard is $629 with a 2-year contract with Verizon wireless.

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