Tablet Shootout: Xoom vs iPad 2

If you are looking for a tablet, the two top contenders are the iPad 2 (read review here) and the Xoom (read review here). Both of these tablets have similar specs and pricing and are close enough that they will typically end up on your short list. But if you are only going to buy one tablet, deciding on Xoom or iPad is not an easy choice. Each have their own unique strengths, but at the end of the day, only one can be the winner.

The chart above shows the two devices side by side at a quick comparison and there is not much difference. The Xoom does have higher resolution screen and a larger screen size, but also weighs more than the iPad and is a bit thicker. The differences between the two devices are moot and should not be a sole factor for purchase of one device over another. 

Boot Time:

 

Starting from a cold boot, the iPad 2 is considerably faster than the Xoom. While the iPad 2 does show that it is quicker out of the gate, the likelihood of consistent rebooting on a tablet device is relatively low. Sure you may do it once in a blue moon, but cold reboots are not a daily occasion.  

Winner: iPad

Cameras:

 

As I said in the Xoom and iPad 2 review, the Xoom cameras are decent and the iPad's are sub-par; the iPad cameras are consistently washed out and grainy. It is clear that Apple cut a few corners when selecting the camera for the iPad 2 and the picture above clearly shows the end result.

Winner: Xoom

Browser:

The browsers are another hot topic in the tablet debate and this one is a true toss-up. Each browser has their strengths here, the iPad feels more finger friendly than that of the Xoom but the Xoom feels more aligned to a desktop class browser in look and feel. It is hard to describe which one is better, but in reality it's going to be a personal choice. The good thing is, no matter which browser you choose, they are both solid solutions. 

If you are looking for a hardcore fact comparison about the two browsers you can see from the chart above that the Xoom browser does eek out ahead of the iPad 2. But the small difference again shows that these two tablets are equally matched in many areas, a consumer is unlikely to see a difference between the browsers on a day to day basis. We should point out that the Xoom will support Flash later this month, while the iPad will never support Flash. 

Winner: Tie

Battery:

Battery life is vital part of any tablet. If you fail to deliver on this front, any tablet is going to be marked down considerably. Besides, who wants to always be looking out for their next outlet to recharge, it is all about using without remorse. If you cant use the product the way it was designed, then the vendor has failed. Fortunately for both Apple and Motorola, the battery life of each device is plentiful. But the iPad did best the Xoom by over an hour which gives it the clear advantage. Both tablets were used in a similar fashion for this testing (YouTube, email, Twitter, Facebook, Pandora).

Winner: iPad

Software:

The software experience is what defines these two tablets. As I have previously said, hardware is ubiquitous for tablets. If the hardware is nearly identical, the only separation is the OS. If you want a deeper description of each OS, see the individual reviews, but for the sake of comparison, the iPad easily wins this category. While the Xoom OS (Honeycomb) is not bad, it still has a ways to go to compete with iOS in fluidity and App add-ons. 

Winner: iPad

Connectivity:

Both of the tablets provided have the same WiFi connectivity as well as a Verizon 3G chip; average download/upload speeds net-out on 3G. Neither one has a distinct advantage when working over 3G but the Xoom does have 4G capability (this comes via a future free upgrade from Motorola). It is a bit dumbfounding why Apple did not include an LTE chip in its iPad, especially since this device is supposed to compete on the market for an entire year. For this battle, the Xoom takes the cake as 4G offers a massive speed advantage compared to 3G

Winner: Xoom

Speaker:

While people will not typically buy a tablet for the built in speaker, the Xoom does take the prize for this category. The built in speaker on both units are average but the Xoom does have a better mid range than that if the iPad. The iPad sounds a bit tinny while the Xoom has a bit more depth to the sound. Neither are going to replace your home stereo but the Xoom does prevail using the device without headphones.

Winner: Xoom

Build Quality:

Apple is known for their build quality and the iPad is no different. The Xoom is also handsomely built too, but when you put the two tablets side by side, the iPad takes the prize. It is not because the Xoom is poorly made, that is far from the truth, it is that compared to the iPad, the Xoom feels thick, like really thick. The best analogy that I could come up with is that the iPad feels like a sheet of paper while the Xoom feels like an entire notepad. There is a fit and finish to the iPad that is unmatched by any tablet on the market today and while the Xoom does feel solid, well built, and looks handsome, it falls second class to the iPad.

Winner: iPad

Conclusion:

At the end of the day, there can only be one winner, and the crown stays with the iPad. It is not about the individual components that make up the iPad, but the entire ecosystem around it that makes it the winner. While the Xoom has the Android marketplace, it is still in its infancy; Honeycomb works well on the tablet too, but still needs a bit more polish to compete 1:1 with iOS. If you buy either tablet, you will be happy with your choice. Neither of these tablets are going to disappoint the consumer, but iPad users will get the overall better tablet experience.  

Winner: iPad

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This comparison is an epic fail! Most of your comparisons are lacking, you fails to test any 'real world' scenarios and never mention most of the important details like hardware, screen quality, apps speeds ect.

Browser - a single benchmark isn't a very good test. Real world web page rendering would be nice.

OS - well clearly iOS which is on build 4.3 vs Honeycomb with is one its initial release has an advantage. So I'd hope it comes out on top.

Build quality - really? The glass is reportedly thin and from the sounds of it may be prone to breakage given iFixit cracked it just trying to get it open. The Xoom is about the same weight/size of the iPad which most be raved about so it can't be all that bad.

Hardware - I see no comparisons there and no mention of some of the areas the Xoom clearly wins. Micro SD slot for upgraded storage, Mini-HDMI for 1080p out w/o added hardware...ram, cpu, lcd screen? what about any of that stuff. Particularly the screens, you should have added a side-by-side on those.

This is a not an objectif review in my opinion.
I disagree on The build quality. I think everything Apple made is easy broken.
Yes Apple got a bigger App store but google software is open source
to my opinion that's an improvement.

Whether you agree or disagree (and what your opinion is) isn't a factor in whether it's an objective review or not. In fact it's totally the opposite.

This is a pretty balanced review, but I have to take issue with the 4G section. The promise of 4G is nice, but the tablet doesn't offer it yet. Seems a little odd to compare a feature that doesn't exist yet against features that do.

But if we are factoring promises and things that don't exist yet, I think it's worth mentioning the current state of 4G. Have you looked at an actual 4G coverage map? It looks like someone sneezed on the US. There are tiny pockets of existing coverage with lots more promised over the next 2-4 years

I really wonder how long people use their tablet for on a day-2-day basis. Also, I think about the amount of money people will spend buying out their iPhone/iPad contracts just to get the latest model.
People should remember it's like a gym membership (if you don't use it, it's a waste of money!).

honestly, I think the Xoom has a better UI, the iOS UI is getting old feeling to me, which is odd since I find the OSX theme to feel fresh and its about 10yrs old now (minus minor revisions to it)...

I think the review is not so good as it doesn't show the real-world implications of such features/benchmarks. For instance, a javascript test?

One thing I found annoying is the touted '4G' feature. This is only good if you use a CDMA carrier. There isn't that many people who will do this in the grand scale of things.

In the end, you can only show where the tablets beat against the other but cannot really provide a winner as it entirely depends on the situation.

Myself, I cannot pick the iPad simply because it requires iTunes on a computer (is not a standalone device), it cannot run my favourite Flash TV website (even with Frash, Skyfire, ..), cannot utilise the Bluetooth 3.0 on my laptop and cannot connect my external hard drive. If it were able to do these things - none of which were mentioned in this review - I would purchase it. iDevices purposely restrict these though which is quite unfortunate for me.

Build quality? Build quality and apple shouldn't be in the same sentence together. build quality, glass gate, antenna gate. child labor gate. what build quality?? zzzzz and I don't even like Motorola...

PatrynXX said,
Build quality? Build quality and apple shouldn't be in the same sentence together. build quality, glass gate, antenna gate. child labor gate. what build quality?? zzzzz and I don't even like Motorola...

Happy trolling!

PatrynXX said,
Build quality? Build quality and apple shouldn't be in the same sentence together. build quality, glass gate, antenna gate. child labor gate. what build quality?? zzzzz and I don't even like Motorola...

You forgot Suicide Gate.

I'm greatly disappointed but the quality of the iPad's front facing camera.

What is the res on the front facing camera on the iPhone and iPod?

To be fair, the reason they couldn't go with an LTE device is quite simple. The WiFi Only version and GSM version would be what they are no and the CDM/LTE would be thicker.

Also, LTE is a huge battery drain. The power consumption on LTE devices would have differed completely (GSM & WiFi vs CDMA/LTE).

Apple had no choice but to sacrifice this spec on the iPad.

XIII said,
What's a biased review. Thinner <> Build quality. He probably already preferred an iPad even before writing this article and nothing will make him change his mind. If this is a tie then I would believe him more. Each of them has their own strengths and weaknesses so saying one wins over the other is just a boatload of fails.

I was looking for a comment to this effect before I posted. I wouldn't call it "bias" but I wouldn't consider differences in dimensions "build quality." That would be form factor.

Build quality differences would be something like one product's edges appeared less seemless because there were less case screws.

XIII said,
What's a biased review. Thinner <> Build quality. He probably already preferred an iPad even before writing this article and nothing will make him change his mind. If this is a tie then I would believe him more. Each of them has their own strengths and weaknesses so saying one wins over the other is just a boatload of fails.

Like it matters. Only idiots actually take the advice from a NeoWin article. Most people have made up there minds. I for one was not getting anything Apple. I love Android. But I didn't go with the first Android Tablet I saw because I knew something beter was coming along with the Motorola Xoom.

Men, been trying to get an iPad 2 since friday, no Luck, Apple stores are always out of stock, same with Walmart, i'm going to try Best buy today.

My hats off to Brad for this review. I tend to be a bit hyper critical on the newsies, most likely due to my very short stint being one at one point in time. But this review was really well done. Succinct but still covered the more important aspects of why one would own a tablet. Kudos for the review.

DirtyLarry said,
My hats off to Brad for this review. I tend to be a bit hyper critical on the newsies, most likely due to my very short stint being one at one point in time. But this review was really well done. Succinct but still covered the more important aspects of why one would own a tablet. Kudos for the review.

He missed multiple tabs open on the browser. Since the original iPad suffered greatly from this, why not review it on the newer version? I wonder if the result would still be a tie?

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