Friday, June 10, 2011

The Ultimate Xoom Review! (But, Perhaps I Am A Bit Biased.)

Look, I can sit here and write a bunch of sunshine about the Xoom, but, quite frankly, little of it would be true. The Xoom is quirky. As has been reported some apps force close, it can lag a bit, and twice I’ve gotten it to freeze so bad I was not sure that it was coming back. All of that said the Xoom is the best tablet on the market. 

How could such a faulty device be the best tablet on the market? Well, the Xoom represents what makes Android great. The Xoom, and Honeycomb, are both only beta products at best. There is no SD card or LTE functionality on the Xoom and Honeycomb is really a hackjob waiting to be cleaned and toned up (which is presumably going to result in Ice Cream Sandwich). But let’s look into my Android history a bit and see how this band-aid device and OS surpass the other tablets on the market.

I started Android with the MyTouch3G (HTC Magic). It was an awesome little device, but by the time I got it the phone was already behind. I then purchased a Samsung Vibrant, then the Nexus S and Nexus One, next the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the LG G-Slate, and finally the Xoom. Each and every device had issues. The MyTouch3G was slow. The Vibrant was laggy and the GPS failed miserably. The Nexus S would routinely reboot (sometimes during a phone call) and even to this day I will get calls and the screen will freeze and not let me answer. The Nexus one’s buttons are not exactly set correctly, so you need to actually press above the symbol to get it to work. The Galaxy Tab’s email app will not allow you to accept invitations. The LG G-Slate has a whole set of issues that can be found here. The point here is: Android, no matter the product, is always full of problems.

Review after review written about the Xoom discussed how it was going to or did fail. It is too expensive. It is not finished. But everyone is missing what the Xoom is, and frankly what Android is, entirely. The Xoom is not finished and no one pretended it was; rather it is the promise of something greater than an enlarged phone, a la iOS. Android and the Xoom are betas that are in constant transition to be something better. As that journey progresses there are laggy hiccups and reboots, but always, always moving forward.

The Xoom, along with its bluetooth keyboard, are the closest one can get to replicating the laptop (Transformer notwithstanding). It is remarkably easy to be productive on the device. Rather it be blogging, checking Twitter (I prefer Plume’s Honeycomb setup), or utilizing the amazing email application--the Xoom makes life much easier. For every insignificant failure one can find ten things about the device that are veritably awesome or at least show such promise that it keeps one coming back again and again. Reading the news is pure joy and Google Books works wonderfully. The GMail app is one of the most stunning and by far the best email app available on any OS working on any device. Scrollable and resizeable widgets (Honeycomb 3.1) make organizing the screen easy, and the USB connectivity is something that has been missing for far too long--and Apple is to afraid to make that happen. And in line with it's namesake the Xoom is fast! 

Oh, and there is one other thing that sets the Xoom apart--a functionality completely foreign to all other tablets on the market, and for the time being the only tablet to even be considered for this option. I am, of course, talking about the unlockable (and relockable) bootloader. This has sparked a heavy dose of development, even if the source is being withheld from us. For any Android enthusiast there is nothing sweeter than plugging in a device, typing in that little phrase Fastboot oem unlock, and voiding that warranty. You cannot get that on any other tablet, save the Xoom.

There are some really great tablets coming out, especially notable are the Samsung devices, but the Xoom is certainly Google’s baby--one need only look to IO to realize that. The Xoom is going to get upgrades for a substantial amount of time and the development community is very strong already. If one is going to make an investment buy the Xoom so you can experience progress, however if one wants to look cool while spending a lot more money, then I would suggest the iPad. (Yes, after buying all of the apps needed to make iOS actually be compatible with anything it will inevitably cost you more money). 

We can all be sure that there will be something better that comes along eventually--the quadcore Xoom is already rumored for this summer--but the Xoom will do just fine for a long time, especially a consideration for those locked in for two years on Verizon. There are very few times that I would tell a person not to hesitate when it comes to tech devices, but the Xoom (and I have to plug the Nexus S as another worthwhile device) is worth the money and worth the risk.

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