if you’re waiting in line for an iPad 2, save me a spot.
This week — and this year, for that matter — there has been a lot of talk about ‘mobile payments’. Many of the top companies (read: banks) are scrambling to catch up, as startups like Square and Venmo have pretty much revolutionized the way that B2C — and even C2C — transactions are made.
Square was in the news this week, boasting “$1 million mobile payments per day”. Which didn’t sit well, with the top credit card processor, VeriFone. Here is the story, told with links.
That’s right, folks. Recursive Awesome is giving away an Android 3.0 powered Motorola XOOM and a yet-to-be-released Apple iPad 2 at Mobile March Twin Cities.
The Motorola XOOM has only been out for a couple of week, and it’s already making its mark in the world of tablets. I was able to get my hands on a review unit. You can read what I think about it here.
Complete with front and rear-facing cameras, the iPad 2 is sure to take the market by storm…again. It will be released on March 11th, and we’ll be there to snatch one up, just for you.
Not sure what Mobile March is all about? Take a peek at this blog post from Recursive Awesome founder, and Mobile March organizer, Justin Grammens. If you can’t make it to the full event, check out Mobile 3D (Demos, Dinner and Drinks). Mobile 3D is a new addition to Mobile March. Mobile 3D is included with your Mobile March admission, or can be purchased separately.
Okay. Maybe I’m being a little dramatic. However, based on my time with the XOOM, and my previous experience with the iPad, I think the XOOM, with Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) has much more potential than the iPad.
Let’s dig in…
The XOOM is packing the latest and greatest in mobile technology. It has an NVIDIA Tegra2 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB DDR2 RAM, and 32GB of on-board storage. It also has a microSD slot, but won’t be enabled until a future software update. There are two cameras; Rear 5MP with dual LED flash, Front 2MP. It also records 720p HD video. Both picture and video quality are on par with smartphones with the same specs. in addition to recording in HD, the XOOM will playback 1080p HD videos. There is an HDMI port on the bottom, but I’m unsure of its capabilities, as I didn’t have a cable. Flanking the HDMI port, you’ll find micro USB and charging ports. On a side note, the tablet will NOT charge via the USB port. There are also metal, dock contacts on the bottom. The only physical buttons on the device are the volume and power/unlock buttons. The power/unlock button is on the back of the device, next to the camera. It’s unintuitive at first, but you get used to it. The XOOM is 4G capable…eventually. Unfortunately, this upgrade cannot be performed with a simple software update. You have to box it up and ship it off to Verizon. Not an ideal upgrade.
(Screen) Size Matters…or does it?
You don’t have to be a mathematician to know that 10.1″ is larger than 9.7″. However, when you actually measure the screens, the iPad and XOOM have roughly the same screen real estate. The XOOM merely has a wider screen, so the total diagonal measurement is larger. There are no physical UI buttons on the XOOM. However, there is a persistent ”System Bar” visible on the bottom of the screen, which includes the BACK, HOME, and RECENT APPS soft buttons. It also display Notifications, the time, connectivity and the battery meter. As a developer, it doesn’t appear that you can hide it. You can only enable “lights out mode” to dim the icons and information…but the bar is still there. Additionally, developers have the option to use the built-in Action Bar, which give them a consistent location to place navigation, search, and context sensitive elements. The stock Honeycomb Home app uses this. Add up the extra space that the “bars” take up and 10.1″ is less than 9.7″. Regardless, the screen size is fine.
Apps – or – The Lack Thereof
Google did a good job of retooling their apps to utilize the larger screen. Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, Books, Maps, Market, Music, Talk, and YouTube all received the tablet treatment. They even added a new core app called Movie Studio. As the name suggests, Movie Studio is a movie editing app, which allows you to combine/trim video files as well as add images, transitions, and a music score. Then you can export your video for future upload. While it’s nice that the core apps have been tabletized, most of your favorite apps, in the Android Market, have not. Google does now offer a “Apps for Tablets” section, but there are only 16 apps listed. It’s possible that these are “featured” apps, and not the entire list of apps that are available. Rest assured, most of your favorite apps will still work on the XOOM. They just might not fill the screen or look quite right. It would have been nice if Google would have reached out to some key developers to have them upgrade their existing apps to be tablet-friendly. At the time of writing this, Adobe Flash is not present on the XOOM. The official announcement word is that it will be “available soon, as a free download” from the Android Market.
Pricing and Availability
The Motorola XOOM tablet is available now through Verizon Wireless or an authorized retailer. You can purchase it for $599.99, with a new two-year contract, or $799.99, without a contract. Data plan options are 1GB/$20, 3GB/$35, 5GB/$50, and 10GB/$80. 4G pricing is unknown at this time. There are several accessories available, including a standard dock, an HD speaker dock, a protective case, and a wireless keyboard (not yet available on VZW’s site, but is available at Best Buy).
In Conclusion, and In Summary…
Overall, I like the XOOM. Android 3.0 is very responsive. The updated core apps and widgets are well designed for tablet use. The other tablet apps, that are available in the Market, also work well. The lack of SD card and Adobe Flash capabilities, out of the box, coupled with the 4G LTE mail-in upgrade puts the the XOOM on my “wait to purchase” list. At least until they get this sorted out. The other reason I would wait, to purchase this tablet, is to see what else is going to be available in the next two months. LG, Samsung and a few other manufacturers have announced new tablets. More competition may drive prices down.
This week, Verizon Wireless and Motorola released the XOOM Android tablet. In my opinion, this is the first Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) tablet that will give the iPad a run for it’s money. It has a 10.1″ screen, NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, 32GB on-board storage, 5MP back cam with flash, 2MP front cam, HDMI, 720P video recording and playback, and a ton of other features (full specs). As far as I can tell, Motorola and Verizon have not altered the operating system in any way. There are no V-Cast or MotoBLUR apps preinstalled. Google has updated the core apps for tablet consumptions; Gmail, Calendar, Browser, Camera, Gallery, Music. They’ve even included Movie Studio, which allows you to splice, trim, fade, title, score and add photos to your recorded videos.
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