Motorola wasn’t the first, but it did have one of the biggest comparable tablets to Apple’s iPad. The Motorola Xoom wasn’t a commercial or critical success, but after Motorola’s success with recent smartphones like the Droid Bionic and Droid Razer, the once nearly bankrupt company has proven that they can make a great handset. But have they managed to turn around their tablet business, especially after the company’s purchase by Android-maker Google?

Size

The iPad 2 is a 9.7″ tablet while the kicker for the Xyboard is that there are actually two models, the 8.2 and 10.1, referring to each devices screen sizes (8.2″ and 10.1″). That means, depending on what kind of user you are, you have an option between which screen size fits you better. The size comparison otherwise is so close, it’s not even funny. Take a look:

Xyboard 10.1: 10 x 6.9 x .35″, 1.32lbs
Xyboard 8.2: 8.5 x 5.5 x .35″, .86lbs
iPad 2: 9.5 x 7.3 x .34″, 1.33lbs

Both Xyboard models are smaller across and just a tad thicker, and both are lighter than the iPad 2. Plus, the fact that there’s an option in terms of size (that has no impact on the quality of the device; both Xyboards are identical in all ways except for screen size) makes Motorola’s latest the clear winner.

Winner: Motorola Xyboard

Appearance

While Motorola may have a real winner in terms of looks with the Droid Razr, the Xyboard looks like a kids tablet. From a distance it looks like the edges are rubber all around, and appears to be more squarish than round on the edges. This may fit the robotic vibe that Motorola has cone after, but it doesn’t look good.

Winner: iPad 2

Display

Both tablets use IPS displays, but the Xyboard (like most non-iPad tablets) is a widescreen display, which is better for viewing media. And as I continue to use tablets more and more, I find the size more convenient for a number of other uses, like holding when walking around or laying back. However, both Xyboards have 1280×800 display resolutions, which is higher density on both devices than the iPad 2. The Xyboard also has software called Intelligent Grip Suppression, which keeps digits hanging onto the ends of the glass off the touchscreen (so users don’t accidentally press). And the Xyboard works with a stylus (sold separately, and also by early reports mostly useless, but still better than none).

Winner: Xyboard

Operating System

We discussed this in the Transformer Prime vs. iPad 2 comparison: right now, iOS 5 kicks the crap out of Android…at least until Android 4.0 comes out. The Xyboard is expected to update to the latest version of Android, eventually…but if Motorola gave a date, or at least a time frame, I’d have made it a draw. Without that, the current OS is behind Apple’s offering and that may not change for awhile.

Winner: iOS 5 (iPad 2)

Processor

Unlike most Android tablets today, the Xyboard uses a Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 CPU. My experience is that TI’s CPUs are powerful, and they are especially great for longevity, but they don’t match the raw power of competitors like Qualcomm or, in this case, Apple. Early reports on how powerful the processor is is so-so. Sadly, we’re not likely to see a new set of powerful tablet processors until CES, and releasing at least a few months later.

Winner: iPad 2

Storage

Normally storage is a category that Apple never wins. They don’t allow the use of microSD cards. With the Xyboard, Motorola is taking the same route, and only offers two storage capacities for the Xyboard models, 16GB and 32GB. This means, for once, Apple wins in storage with 3 storage options (16GB, 32GB & 64GB). What is the world coming to?

Winner: iPad 2

Wireless Connectivity

The iPad 2 is available in three models: Wi-Fi only, AT&T 3G and Verizon 3G. The Xyboard comes in one basic model: Verizon 4G LTE. On the one hand, the iPad is more easily accessible and has more options, but on the other the Xyboard has access to the fastest and largest LTE network for the exact same price as the 3G iPad per month, and for an initially lower price (for the 8.2″ model). Tough call, but because of how widespread Verizon’s LTE network is, the Xyboard wins this round. Though the lack of a Wi-Fi model will hurt it later on.

Winner: Xyboard

Camera

I say it every time, and I’ll say it again: tablet cameras are a joke. Then again, as I use tablets more and more, I can see how increasingly significant they are.

The 8MP on the Xyboard, capable of 720p video, along with the 1.3MP front camera, blows the iPad 2′s lenses out of the water.

Winner: Xyboard

Price

Based on pricing schemes, there are six iPad 2 models: with 3G and without, at each storage capacity, going from $500-$829. The Xyboard, however, isn’t so comfortable on the wallet. It only has two models, period, that work over Verizon’s LTE network. There’s no Wi-Fi only model, so no matter what if you purchase the Xyboard, you are signing a two-year data contract for $30/month. They may have lower starting prices at $430 and $530 (for the 8.2 and 10.1 models, respectively), but remember, they’re contract only.

So, if you need a tablet with a data connection, the Xyboard is fine, but if you don’t want to plow down $720 over two years for limited data over Verizon’s LTE network, look away.

Winner: iPad 2

Overall

What’s great is when companies innovate and bring new and unique products to market. The Xyboard doesn’t fit into that category of products. It’s simply an updated Xoom (and is even named the Xoom 2 in Europe), which isn’t enough to stand up to the fiercest competitor in the tech space today. There are a few forgivable mistakes, like shipping without Android 4.0.

Others aren’t. Offering LTE models only means big-bucks for Verizon, but there are plenty of prospective tablet owners who don’t need an ever-present data connection. A large percentage of those people will end up using Wi-Fi for most of their tablet needs anyways. And, because it’s so easy to use data on a tablet (and nowadays even a smartphone), limited plans can very quickly lead to big bills just from streaming a few movies. I have no doubts that some owners are going to go way over their data plans.

By points alone, the Xyboard looks like a very close competitor to the iPad 2. But it loses to Apple in the more important categories like prices and available models. I couldn’t recommend a Xyboard over an iPad 2, though there are other potential Android tablets that would be much better suited for your use, even without Android 4.0.

Winner: iPad 2










James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.