By Eric Pettifor
A couple of posts ago I wrote of the Motorola Xoom tablet, extolling its virtues while trying to convince myself that I don’t need one. And truly, I don’t. My little netbook is all the portable computing I really need. What I might want, and might actually get (if it was in the budget), is another question.
This question has recently been complicated by the announcement of Apple’s iPad 2. Uh oh, Motorola, has your leapfrogging the leader been leapfrogged? The short answer appears to be: No.
The most telling comparison I was able to find was over at The Mac Observer. Though one understands they might have a bias, given the name of their site, here’s what they manage to come up with: “The iPad 2 is clearly the best when it comes to size, weight, price, and battery life.” I suppose that’s one way to sell the smaller, lower resolution screen as a good thing.
Of the Xoom’s virtues, they write:
The Xoom is the clear favorite in four categories, starting with its display resolution (1280 x 800 compared to 1024 x 768 for iPad and iPad 2). Some users who fancy holding a tablet up as a camera may fancy the Xoom’s back-camera flash, as well. The Xoom also features stereo speakers, a feature Apple doesn’t offer, and the device includes a full GB of RAM. The iPad featured 256MB, and it appears as if iPad 2 has double that, at 512MB.
What they don’t note, and isn’t clear from the accompanying chart, is the megapixel rating of the iPad 2’s cameras. And don’t go looking for that information on the Apple site, because you won’t find it. That suggests it’s not worth boasting about, so if you’re one of those strange people who, as macobserver puts it, “fancy holding a tablet up as a camera” and care about the resolution of the pictures you take, the choice is clear.
Also missing from their comparison is consideration of support for USB and SD. Again, that may be because the iPad 2 doesn’t support either. The Xoom does both.
With regard to price, a not maxed-out version of the iPad 2 will save you a few bucks over the Xoom, but as Wolfgang Gruener concludes in his article 5 Reasons Why You Should Not Buy The iPad 2, you could save even more “if you . . . consider the original iPad, which we hear is seeing dropping prices. The crappy camera, the software update and the dual-core processor may not be worth the extra expense.” Now may be the best time to buy the original iPad at clear-them-out prices.
One gotcha about the Xoom: While it’s intended to support Flash and SD, it may or may not, depending on the version of the OS. Ask before you buy. If it’s from an earlier batch, you may have some geeking to do to bring it up to scratch.
Nevertheless, it appears as though Apple has gone from first-to-market leader, to having to play catch up. Stay tuned to see if the iPad 3 finally delivers on the promise of the form. Perhaps by that time Flash really will be dead. Hopefully Steve Jobs won’t be.