Review: Motorola XOOM 2 tablet computer (video)

10 Feb 2012

The Motorola XOOM 2 tablet computer is lighter and faster than its show-stealing predecessor and its speedy processor and smooth downloading of apps and presentation of media makes it a compelling product.

I was there that day in Las Vegas in January 2011 when the first Motorola tablet, the XOOM, was named Best in Show at the Consumer Electronics Show.

While it would be the best part of a year before I would get to spend significant time with the XOOM, it was in my mind the only contender that Apple’s iPad franchise had at that point.

The differences, however, between the first generation XOOM and the new XOOM 2 are incredibly stark.

The XOOM was a robust, sturdy tablet computer that really brought Android to life on the tablet form factor. The XOOM 2 has Android roaring with life – it feels complete, tangible and solid.

John Kennedy checks out Motorola’s latest tablet computer the XOOM 2 

But the differences: first of all the XOOM 2 is much lighter than its predecessor and this time round Motorola has dispensed with the cold steel backing and has gone for a much smoother, lighter more elegant material.

The computer has an octagonal shape with subtle curves at each corner and it just looks more discrete and slick than its predecessor.

Also in terms of charging and synching the device, Motorola has thankfully begun using a mini-USB port that sits right beside the HDMI port.

The differences don’t stop there. The 10.1-inch display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass and a special splash resistant coating.

Colours seem brighter, crisper and sharper on the XOOM 2 than on its predecessor.

The need for speed

A real standout difference is of course the speed. The device comes with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and has 1GB of RAM.

I have to say I was very impressed with the XOOM 2’s 5-megapixel camera which took really vivid photos that displayed beautifully on the 10.1 screen. Around the front there’s a 1.3-megapixel camera which is perfect for video conferencing via Skype or doing Google Hangouts.

The Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) tablet computer is capable of up to 10 hours of battery life. I actually found it to be very battery efficient and rarely had to charge it up. Very impressive.

The only niggle, and this is a minor niggle, was the ‘on’ button. On the first generation XOOM the ‘on’ button was at the back and it took a bit of fumbling to find it. If you’re used to Apple’s iPad there’s one button to activate the screen and it’s right there at the front, but in these litigious days I’d imagine every manufacturer has to be different. So with the XOOM 2 what Motorola has done is shift the ‘on’ button to the right hand side. While it still takes a bit of fumbling to find the tiny button at least Motorola has redeemed itself in my eyes by grouping the volume controls right next to the ‘on’ button. Like I said, a minor niggle.

The speed of the XOOM 2’s 1.2GHz is very obvious, leading to a very elegant computing experience.

Another factor worth mention is the perceived gap between apps choices for Android devices and iOS devices is closing … quite rapidly in fact. The Android Market now delivers many of the mainstream apps you would come to expect such as Netflix, Dropbox, Evernote, etc.

Mind you I’m still waiting for Instagram to arrive on Android and would love to see how it would manifest on a device like the XOOM 2.

All in all, the XOOM 2 is a great statement of intent by Motorola. It will not disappoint.

It’s available in the UK and Ireland at Carphone Warehouse, Currys and PC World for around €474 (stg£396).


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years