Motorola has cried havoc, and let slip a tablet of war. The Xoom is official today. You could roll out to Best Buy on your lunch break, if you were so inclined, and buy one right now. But before you do, it's not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with what people are saying about the first Android 3.0 slate.
Walt Mossberg found it a worthy competitor to the iPad. He found Honeycomb a major improvement over "phone" Android, and called its match with the Xoom a "promising pair". In power and multitasking ability (and in sound quality) the Xoom beats the original iPad. But Apple still has the edge in battery life. The Xoom only managed 7 hours and 32 minutes of looping video, compared to the iPad's 11.5 hours.
That gels with the tests Engadget ran, which found 8.2 hours of playback time for the Xoom opposed to 9.33 with the iPad. Engadget also touted the new Moto slate's multitasking ability. Honeycomb was praised for feeling more like a desktop, and the active widgets got a lot of love. But a few weird issues- like an app panel too far off for easy use, made it feel a little like a beta. Engadget also noted that their microSD slot was not enabled, although that may be a pre-production thing.
Robert Scoble probably had the most positive review of the Xoom. He claimed to be "falling in love" with it, due to the better notifications, multitasking, and a more ideal form factor for video. Despite all this, Scoble claims it is not worth the cost for the average consumer. Why? A wild lack of tablet apps.
Every reviewer I've found has echoed that complaint. The Xoom will have only a handful of tablet optimized apps (like Angry Birds) at launch. It's looking like Android tablets will have to endure the same sort of app gap that Android smartphones have struggled with.
We've got some good news today for prospective Xoom owners, too. Verizon will NOT require a contract for users who purchase the full $800 tablet unsubsidized. In addition, the details for the LTE upgrade are out now. 90 days after launch, you'll be able to send in your device and have it sent back in six days, ready for 4G.