back to article Motorola Xoom

You will be aware that 2011 is supposed to be the year that Android tablets hit the big-time. In case you missed it, the explosion of new devices was supposed to happen at Easter. In the event, many launches have since been put back to later in the year, while other products have been launched but are plainly impossible to buy …

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Screen

Better screen than the iPad - gets a nod from me.

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cept it isn't.

The screen isn't as good as the IPS panel in the iPad. It's better than most of the competition that are using the same tech, TN i think.

But the Asus Transformer, does use an IPS panel and is as good as the iPad. Is also cheaper (less onboard memory) and has a working sd card slot.

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Stop

So 95% then

when you add back the 10% "Apple Tax" that all El-Reg reviews suffer from.

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very nice HW

I've got one, it's amazing.

My non-technical partners first exclamation on having a go was 'oh, it's so much faster than an iPad'

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Alert

about that SD card slot

the uhm "rooted" version has had support for the sd card for some time now with the card being mounted as a virtual folder within the main card's /sdcard folder.

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For some reason, the Xoom detects my touch a couple of millimetres further down the screen.

Is there no screen calibration option?

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Boffin

Happens on my phone

On Dolphin HD and stock. Not often mind, mainly while checking out Gizmodo.com.au's mobile site where I just need to find where the link actually is, then it works fine when it realises there's nothing there.

Really interested in this one, especially with word Plants Vs. Zombies is making its way to Android.

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FAIL

Clearly it's BETTER than an Ipad2

As you are not locked into anything you don't want to be.

You buy an Apple product, and Jobs has you by the balls forever on in.

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I imagine

that the reviewer has taken that into consideration. Not to mention the fact - shock, horror - that some people prefer to use iOS even so.

Reviews have to be objective, not pandering solely to the pro or anti Apple mobs.

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Silver badge

No just google and moto

Given the choice I'd rather risk Steve's vice like grip around my nads that those above.

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FAIL

Correct me if I'm wrong ...

"Motorola has opted for an on-screen navigation bar, occupying 46 pixels that can never be recovered.

This means the Xoom’s effective screen area is not 1280 x 800 but 1234 x 754, so 720p content at 1280 x 720 won't be full screen after all."

Yes, but the menu bar isn't at the side _and_ at the bottom is it ? It certainly isn't in the picture, so you would be getting 1280 x 754 ( or 1234 x 800 in portrait ) which is 720p ... ( but it wouldn't be full screen - I agree with that, but would play at full resolution as 1280 x 720 is less than 1280 x 754 ... )

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Grenade

waaaat

Hed Asploded

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Anonymous Coward

Since you brought it up

I thought this too - the video will play at it's native resolution so all is well. Also the article states: "Motorola has opted for an on-screen navigation bar, occupying 46 pixels that can never be recovered."

This is slightly inaccurate as the fixed on-screen navigation bar I believe is a feature of Honeycomb rather than a manufacturer choice.

According to Google IO it also has a "silent" mode (it might not be called that) where the buttons turn into faint dots to avoid distraction while playing video/gaming etc.

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but are plainly impossible to buy

Huh? I had no issues buying my 10.1" Galaxy Tab. Nor did I have any issues getting my 7" variant some time before that was released.

As for battery complaints, I don't see any issues on my Tab. When run next to an iPad doing similar functions, the iPad runs out of juice long before the tab does in standby, and the 10.1" version lasts longer in movie play mode than the iPad too.

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Thumb Up

hmm

The reviewer may be referring to the elusive iPad 2, which has apparently been released but is nowhere to be found (here in Holland anyway).

Speaking of iPads, I've just (re)bought the iPad 1, after somebody was silly enough to buy my last one off me for new money. I also had a Tab for a short while inbetween iPads, and found it inferior in almost every respect except portability. Battery life sucked, both in use and in standby - it also got quite warm, which presumably contributed to the lousy stamina.

I wouldn't say I'm 100% in favour of Apple, but I'm definitely less than 10% in favour of Samsung at the moment.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

*facepalm*

An iPad that isn't an iPad yet costs substantially more than an iPad? Something tells me this is going to be the most epic fail in history of retailing.

I also take issue with some of the statements made about cheaper Android tablets. The cheap Android tablets go for nearer £79 than £179. A lot of them are not plasticky at all - look at the StorageOptions Scroll, for example - the back of it is aluminium and the finish is as good as on an iPad. They are 7in in size (a _much_ more practical size - at 10in you might as well carry a netbook). The memory in them is in no way inadequate (256MB is planty - have you ever actually had an Android app throw an OOM error?). And no working SD/uSD slot on the Xoom? That feature that the £79 Android tablets all have, without fail?

Now, don't get me wrong - I can see that the Xoom is a rather nice tablet, but the spec doesn't get anywhere near justifying it's price tag. Similar, unbranded or less branded tablets are priced at about 1/5 of the price. Even with Motorola branding a 5x markup is pushing it. For comparison, a Toshiba AC100 netbook (also Tegra based) costs barely over half of the Xoom.

All I can conclude about the verdict is that it is coming from someone with both too much money and too little sense.

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Anonymous Coward

Cheap for a reason.

"Android tablets" below £100 are typically Android 1.5 or 1.6 and don't provide Android Market or Flash. It may be possible to hack onto the Market, but I'm not sure that that's legal. And I don't think any of the apps I've used are available except from the Market. Particularly ones that charge a fee.

Sorry Maplin, but I looked into that - then I bought a 7 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab. Market is allowed, since it's actually a phone.

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re: facepalm

So, you suggest that rather than buying the iPad or Xoom, the Scroll is a good alternative with a 800x480 resistive screen, Android 2.1 (with no plans to upgrade), an unidentified processor speed and a 4 hour battery life?

In this case I'd suggest that a fraction of an iPad is not worth a fraction of the iPad's price - as it's obsolete before you even unwrap it. There's a base level of functionality, below which a device is only of interest to people who collect pocket calculators.

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pad size

Why are getting such a glut of 10in tablets when 6 to 7in really does seem to be the sweet spot for practical use?

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Bronze badge

Actually...

StorageOptions Scroll runs Android 2.1, and it does have a Market app on it. For some reason it's not shortcutted in the standard ROM, but this is trivial to rectify using AnyCut or a similar app.

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re: facepalm

No, I'm suggesting that Xoom in no way justifies it's price tag as an alternative to either the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy tab.

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Dead Vulture

Re: pad size

Because in the media echo chamber, it's all about "reclining on the couch" and watching movies on the relatively poor iPad screen instead of on the excessively large LCD or plasma television that you bought only weeks earlier, making occasional stroking gestures and looking smug. You then have to tell everybody that a 10" screen is what it takes, ignoring all other use-cases.

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FAIL

"costs substantially more than an iPad"

Umm, try, 'costs the same as an iPad'. It even says so in the article, you didn't need to do your own research...

32GB, 3G iPad2 = £579

Also, when you say that 7in is a "more practical size", what do you actually mean? You'd still struggle to fit that in most pockets, so you need a bag, in which case you might as well have a larger screen.

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Silver badge

@AC "pad size"

I thought it was more that 10" screens are quite close to the size that both the international community and the Americans separately have settled on as being good for a piece of paper, so the thing ends up a natural size for web pages, PDFs, magazines, etc. The 7" screen is conveniently like a paperback, but less suited to the web. And that's before you throw in the media centre component.

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Pint

So

Where are you getting a Storage Options Scroll for £79 please? Their website has the RRP at £159.Google products has this;

http://www.google.co.uk/products/catalog?hl=en&sugexp=gsqvh&xhr=t&q=storage+options+scroll&cp=16&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=17975361122475477768&sa=X&ei=3-bHTdqIOoK2tgf8lOmzBA&sqi=2&ved=0CEEQ8wIwAg#

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Badgers

Some odd design decisions

I've had a Xoom for about 4 weeks (walked into PC World on day of release and bought one off the shelf). Its a nice chunk of hardware, but Motorola seem to have made some stupid design decisions that will irritate over time :

a) No charge from USB - even if it took longer, this should be an option. Carrying a charging brick around is stupid.

b) Charging socket is on top.....and headphone jack is on bottom. Its awkward to use when charging.

c) The Motorola folio case prevents charging when closed. So my screen has to be left at risk when I leave it charging.

d) No support for device level http proxy (without third party software).

I really want this class of devices to succeed on Android - Apple need the balance to keep them in check. The OS is close, but some of the built in apps (eg. calendar) are lacking that bit of interface magic that Apple supply.

I'm developing for both honeycomb and iOS platforms but the iPad2 is the one I take home to use personally.

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Why micro SD?

Micro SD makes sense in a tiny device like a phone. On a device with a screen this size being able to take the full size SD card out of a camera might be useful.

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Agreed

If it had a full SD slot, then it would work with both. This way, the most common format is unsupported.

The Advent Vega has the same problem.

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IR

Compromise

You could use a microSD card in an adapter for your camera. A little more expensive, but it also means you can put it in your phone and email/text pics off. It's what I do.

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Paris Hilton

SD card question

I'm highly tempted by this but for a very specific purpose - could one of you existing owners help?

I would need a tablet to read from SD cards. If a camera that supports mass storage mode, or just a simple card reader, is plugged in to the Xoom by USB, can the Xoom browse and copy files?

Can the video editing stuff (bundled or third party) handle MP4 720p and 1080p, taken by devices other than the Xoom itself?

I currently have an aging Dell netbook that I use to view and trim footage from a helmet mounted camera (GoPro HD) on the road. Nothing too complicated, and speed is not an issue, so the 1ghz netbook processor is fine for editing (command line ffmpeg does everything I need and more), but struggles with 1080p playback.

I'm wondering if I can replace this setup with a Xoom, but it would absolutely need the tablet to read and write the video files to the SD card, not just internal memory.

Far shot but - I don't some genius has ported ffmpeg to Android with an installation process that non-techie mortals can follow?

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Re: Ian Ferguson; SD Card question

Not the ideal solution but I've taken to putting a MicroSD card into an SD-Card adaptor for use in my digital camera and digital video camera. I can then remove the MicroSD-Card from the adaptor for use in Phones/Tablets OR use the full-sized adaptor in Laptops, card readers etc. It's a little bit of messing around and extra expense (Micro-SD cards are a bit more expensive than their full-sized equivalents) but I gain massive flexibility.

I've yet to come across any compatability problems and I have used Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Android and Windows Mobile devices.

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Not Xoom, but try Asus Transformer

The Asus EeePad Transformer is both cheaper than the Xoom and (in some ways, at least) better. If you buy the keyboard dock (a primary reason to opt for this tablet), you'll be able to plug your mass-storage camera into the full USB slot on the keyboard and access it like any other USB drive.

I can't speak to the movie editing because I've not tried.

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Asus Transformer

Should be out soon with the keyboard for even less money.

Review Soon???

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Silver badge

It's a very nice device

PC World have them out on display and they're very easy to use and play with. Biggest issue, and it's a big issue is it's just too expensive. There is no reason for tablets to cost that much money. The Advent Vega is half the price and that's really where I expect the brand names to be eventually. Problem at the moment is they're in greed mode and don't have enough competition. Once the field fills out and perhaps Amazon / Google light a fire under their backsides with their own tablets we might see better pricing.

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Anonymous Coward

Vega

Problem is that low cost devices such as the Vega can't offer the closed Honeycomb or any of Google's functionality such as maps, gmail or even the Market without effectively pirating those apps.

This is all because they didn't join Google's private club, now I'm not sure what it involves but I guess there's a reason why these low cost manufacturers decided not to join.

So to me it appears there is also a Google Tax...

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@++ath0

"Problem is that low cost devices such as the Vega can't offer the closed Honeycomb "

They're not offering them at present - but the Vega, for example, is expected to have custom ROMs (supported in part by Advent) with Honeycomb very soon. That said - there is nothing much technically preventing them using it.

"or any of Google's functionality such as maps, gmail or even the Market"

Most can, and do, support these - either out of the box of via an application. The issue with the market is mainly to do with the hardware specification for certified devices - it's not outlandish, but obviously some manufacturers prefer to pare down the cost and not bother with certification (hence, e.g. the lack of market etc on some of the shipping products)

" without effectively pirating those apps."

Eh ? What are you talking about ?

"This is all because they didn't join Google's private club, "

Oh - that's sounds incredibly authoritative...

"now I'm not sure what it involves but I guess there's a reason why these low cost manufacturers decided not to join."

...but it turns out it hand-waving nonsense..

"So to me it appears there is also a Google Tax..."

To me it appears as if there are always sensible comments on here - turns out I was wrong too.

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Well, sorta

Its all down to the licensing agreements I think, not sure to be honest. But honeycomb has been ported (early stages, slow, unusable, but on its way!), and all the other stuff you've mentioned is over as well.

I love my Vega, great pad for the money. Played with it side by side with a mates Xoom, and bar the fact the Xooms screen was a LOT better, it held up very well given it was about 50% cheaper.

I'll stick HC on when I can, and then likely wait until next year before looking at what is available, maybe the year after, so skip a generation or 2, as its great for now.

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Linux

Vega is great

I bought a Vega for 200 quid and it's really good: dual core, HDMI out. Am I missing something here but isnt that a bargain? I actually prefer Froyo as I want to limit the amount of different interfaces I use.

Screen viewing is not great mind.

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Anonymous Coward

@Tim Parker

Go read today's news article here where Google themselves say they run a "club" of Android manufacturers in internal e-mail.

Whre's the hand waving nonsense now umm?

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Anonymous Coward

@Tim Parker

First, I'd suggest you read up on how Android is licensed before dismissing my comments. Makes my life easier and you'll look better for it. Cheers.

You can begin by reading the Android Compatibility program (which let's manufacturers add the Android marketplace): http://source.android.com/compatibility/index.html

Especially the bit "Unfortunately, for a variety of legal and business reasons, we aren't able to automatically license Android Market to all compatible devices. To inquire about access about Android Market, you can contact us."

also from the Android FAQ:

"How can I get access to the Google apps for Android, such as Maps?

The Google apps for Android, such as YouTube, Google Maps and Navigation, Gmail, and so on are Google properties that are not part of Android, and are licensed separately. Contact android-partnerships@google.com for inquiries related to those apps."

The rules are NOT out there in the open, and approval seems to be at Google's discretion, hence the "private club" in my comment.

As shown, installation of Google's apps (Gmail, Maps, etc) in devices not approved by Google is not legal as they are licensed separately from the main Android source. Devices such as the Vega are not approved by Google thus installing those apps on them constitutes software piracy.

Cyanogenmod already had legal threats from Google until the apps were removed from their distribution.

So my point is made. If you want to have sensible comments (in El Reg? I would't hold my breath) try not to post nonsense based on your hunches and try to aim more for facts grounded on actual reality.

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@++ath0

"First, I'd suggest you read up on how Android is licensed before dismissing my comments. Makes my life easier and you'll look better for it. Cheers."

It was partly the lack of information in your comments that prompted mine - not the facts. The statement that cheap devices cannot offer the market or Google apps is not, in general, true. The fact that a lot (most) of the the truly horrible cheapo tablets etc don't does not alter the fact that they can other all of those if compatible and approved. Please note that I explicitly mentioned that compatibility had to be sought.

"You can begin by reading the Android Compatibility program (which let's manufacturers add the Android marketplace): http://source.android.com/compatibility/index.html

Especially the bit "Unfortunately, for a variety of legal and business reasons, we aren't able to automatically license Android Market to all compatible devices. To inquire about access about Android Market, you can contact us.""

If have done - and agree completely it's hardly the epitome of open-ness. It doesn't, however, preclude anything - just makes it irritatingly opaque. If I was a manufacturer, I might actually be arsed to contact them though. They may not license it, and may not say why, that's true - my issue with you comments was the statement, as fact, that *none* of them do or can. Perhaps I was being overly pedantic - and my apologies if you think so - but i've grown weary of the stream of opinion-as-fact on much of the issues here.

"The rules are NOT out there in the open, and approval seems to be at Google's discretion, hence the "private club" in my comment."

Fair enough - I have no problem with that at all though - just the assertion you made backed up by the comment "now I'm not sure what it involves" - hardly compelling evidence in my book, and that was my intended point.

"As shown, installation of Google's apps (Gmail, Maps, etc) in devices not approved by Google is not legal as they are licensed separately from the main Android source. "

*May* not be legal - that's my point, the difference between an absolute assertion and the facts.

"Devices such as the Vega are not approved by Google thus installing those apps on them constitutes software piracy."

Yes - agreed - good point (as long as the devices are not approved).

"Cyanogenmod already had legal threats from Google until the apps were removed from their distribution."

That was a re-distribution legal issue IIRC - there was no problem with the subsequent installation on top of the cyanogenmod or other ROMs (e.g. Paul's), or at least none detailed so far, from Google or anybody else.

"So my point is made. "

Partly - I especially take into account the 'piracy' comment - but I hope you can see my point that using absolutist language doesn't really help (e.g. all cheap devices can' t have the market or Google apps).

"If you want to have sensible comments (in El Reg? I would't hold my breath) "

..true - and needless snarky comment from me - apologies for that

"try not to post nonsense based on your hunches and try to aim more for facts grounded on actual reality."

Modulo the piracy comment (which I now see your point on) the only thing I was trying to fight was the assertions, as fact, of opinions - not backed up at the time by any evidence - and the use of absolute terms. I'm not a flag bearer for Google, or indeed anybody, but neither am I happy seeing sweeping, overly broad comments made when perfectly good, accurate criticism is available (from the same person in this case).

Perhaps we can agree to disagree on the scale of the 'problem' with certification

Cheers

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Happy

No Honeycomb on Vega you say.....?

http://tabletroms.com/forums/showthread.php?453-ROM-VegaComb-by-newbe5-and-Corvus

Not exactly legit, but i flashed it last night and it is AWESOME (Still an Alpha release)!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Killer price?

How can Moto be expected to sell for a killer price when this is all they make on the deal, ever?

At least Apple can look forward to some recurring App Store revenue.

Good luck to those who want to make tablets for Android, I hope they have a good deal with Foxconn.

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clueless

"It does not in any way try to complete with the cheap and nasty no-brand tablets currently being shovelled onto an unsuspecting public by consumer electronics retailers who should know better"

This just shows that you are absolutely clueless. The advent vega or the viewsonic gtab both have their issues as the xoom does, but in the vega's case for £199 and a bit of faffing around you get a tablet that beats the xoom in benchmarks.

Your comments just show that you are all for form over function and you think that a high price = good quality. Just go buy an ipad and be done with it so you can join the rest of the no clue brigade.

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Anonymous Coward

Well..

He did say "public", not computer experts. Of course when I say experts in the case of Android I just mean script kiddies who consider themselves to be clued in, but still his comment is valid.

As for the no clue brigade there are plenty of no cluers and savvy individuals on all devices I'm afraid. Many "clued in" Android people would look at me funny if I asked how many registers does the processor in their tablet have (it's not in Wikipedia btw), yet I have an iPad and even know the names on mine.

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JDX
Gold badge

Let's forget the Apple lock-in factor for a sec...

...and ask "is it better than the iPad2"? It costs the same and is directly competing so for an average user who doesn't care about Apple Evil, only how easy it is to use and how good it is, which is best?

I hoped to see a review directly comparing the two, personally, since that is the choice one is making.

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Both are easy to use

Ease of use for both the iPad and Xoom are 10 out of 10, but web browsing on the Xoom is fully functional on more sites than the iPad. This may or may not be a deciding factor, but for those who visit flash enhanced sites regularly the iPad is not the right choice.

Want software then goto the market and browse to your hearts content. One of my favourite apps on my Nexus One is RealCalc, a nice calculator that can be set to use Reverse Polish Notation like H/P calculators. Made me laugh the first time I used it on the Xoom as it came up full screen in portrait mode. Works like a charm though, no problems.... and REALLY easy to read.

Graphics are silky smooth, java enabled web-sites run properly, as do flash enhanced sites. What is annoying is that many sites see you using Android and default to their lesser mobile site (IMDB is one of these) and you have to select the full site to appreciate that the Xoom really is a full blown dual core computer.

The user-facing camera is great but Skype needs to get off their arse and actually implement video chat. To go off on a tangent for a little bit here Skype also has no way to quit their app forcing you to go to settings->applications to shut down. Bad Skype.... no biscuit. That said I use Skype hands-free and it works wonderfully as a telephone and text-chat tool. Back to the Xoom.

Compass, Gyroscope, and accelerometers are great standard features and all work as advertised. GPS is very sensitive locking onto satellites quickly even when in concrete buildings with steel rebar running through the structure. I was impressed, my N810 is terrible in comparison.

Battery lasts a very long time and due to it not using a 5 Volt USB source it recharges quickly (Xoom uses a 12Volt power source to recharge). Having used the iPAD, and "fixed" a few of them, I would recommend the Xoom to anyone who is looking for a tool that performs with easy excellence both for business and personal use.

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Desktop UA

This works on all versions of Android up until 2.3, so it may work with 3.0 too, I just haven't had a chance to try yet.

Type about:debug in the browser address bar, and hit enter. Then have a look at the browser settings for anything about the user agent, and you should be able to set it to say it's desktop chrome, thus negating the need to switch to the full site all the time.

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does the menu bar move?

when it's in portrait mode?

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Thumb Up

Yup

And very slick Honeycomb is, too, on whichever tab. you're using. (Mine's an Asus Transformer.)

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