Motorola DROID XYBOARD 8.2 Review

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

As we take a trip back down to memory lane with the Motorola XOOM, the very first device to feature Google’s pure tablet-optimized platform, we realize that things didn’t necessarily go as planned for the tablet. Besides the late incorporation of a 4G LTE radio, it was quickly overcome by other Honeycomb tablets that snatched the spotlight – like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Coming back for round two, the Motorola DROID XYBOARD 8.2 is looking to uphold its founding father and reclaim the prestige now that it’s part of the beloved DROID line.

This is a review of the CDMA/LTE tablet offered by Verizon Wireless. The XOOM 2 Media Edition is identical but has a global GSM/HSDPA radio instead.

The package contains:

  • microUSB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Product Safety and Warranty Guide

Design:

If you’ve checked out some of Motorola’s recent smartphones, namely the PHOTON 4G and DROID RAZR, you’ll instantly recognize the design of the DROID XYBOARD 8.2. It’s probably one of the more solidly constructed tablets we’ve had the pleasure to hold of late – thanks to its premium choice of materials and sturdy feel. Literally built like a tank, its metallic back plating provides plenty of strength, while its soft touch sides and miniature bolts perfectly accent its tough exterior. Looking beyond its aggressive appearance, it’s remarkably lightweight (13.62 oz) and svelte (0.35” thick) to keep it in good light with the usual company.



Complementing its sturdy build quality, is its brilliant looking 8.2” IPS-enhanced HD display, which boasts a reasonable 1280 x 800 resolution. Naturally, it’s more than detailed enough to discern fine text within the web browser, while its high contrast, neutral color reproduction, strong brightness output, and decent viewing angles make it a wonder to look at with our eyes. Simply, it perfectly complements the tablet’s overall radiance.


Easily worth noting, the Motorola DROID XYBOARD 8.2 is deemed as a multimedia-centric tablet because it features 2.1 virtual surround sound with the aid of the speakers built into its sides. Furthermore, it also packs the usefulness of an infrared blaster, which is something that’s becoming more prominent amongst tablets. In fact, it works in tandem with the preloaded Dijit app to turn the DROID XYBOARD 8.2 into a universal home theater remote control.



Besides those two items, everything else is fairly straightforward seeing it packs a microUSB port, microHDMI port, 3.5mm headset jack, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, 5-megapixel auto-focus rear camera with flash, power button, and volume control. With the latter two, they’re flat and rather difficult to feel out with our fingers – though, we find their placement fitting to reduce accidental presses when holding the tablet.





Interface and Functionality:

Initially, we thought that the tablet was running some sort of new customized interface, due to the different looking clock widget, but after scoping the scene, we realize it’s nothing more than the usual Android 3.2 Honeycomb experience. Of course, it offers plenty of personalization with its variety of icons, wallpapers, and widgets, but it doesn’t particularly bring any new things from what we find with other Honeycomb flavored tablets. Yes, it’s pretty with its TRON-like presentation, but at this point, it doesn’t come off as awe-inspiring.


Unlike some of the 7-inchers out there, typing in landscape on the DROID XYBOARD 8.2 is a bit more practical and convenient thanks to its spacious layout and responsiveness. Additionally, we’re presented with the stock, Swype, and SwiftKey keyboards – all of which have their own strengths.


Not surprisingly, the Gmail and standard email apps are appropriately laid out to take advantage of the spacious confines available with the tablet – so organizing emails is a pleasure to handle. Moreover, setup is a breeze seeing it simply requires our email address and password for automatic completion.



Processor and Memory:

Providing all of the muscle power, the Motorola DROID XYBOARD 8.2 is running a 1.2GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4430 processor with 1GB of RAM. Obviously, it has enough horsepower to get the job done, but we still experience some hints of choppiness when navigating the homescreen with a live wallpaper. Conversely, its movement and execution is more fluid when using a static one instead, but to tell you the truth, its performance is very typical of any other Honeycomb tablet we’ve reviewed.

Strangely, the DROID XYBOARD 8.2 lacks the usefulness of a microSD card slot, which is a bummer to tell you the truth – meaning, you’ll need to think things over before choosing either the 16GB or 32GB version of the tablet.

Internet and Connectivity:

Growing Big Red’s selection by one, the Motorola DROID XYBOARD 8.2 features the always-lovable 4G LTE connection to get complex web pages loaded in a jiffy. As much as we take kindly to its peppy data speeds, we’re soured by the tablet’s choppy web browsing performance. Although it handles basic sites with no problems, others rich with Flash content can literally be a test of patience – albeit, it’s still tolerable to accept.


Being the one of the tablet’s starry points, its 4G LTE connectivitypresents us with average download and upload speeds of 10Mbit/s and 7Mbit/s respectively. Outside of 4G LTE goodness, you still have EV-DO Rev.A as a backup. On top of that, it packs all the usual suspects we normally find – like aGPS, Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, 802.11 b/g/n/a Wi-Fi, and mobile hotspot functionality.



Camera:

For a tablet, the Motorola DROID XYBOARD 8.2 dishes up some good looking snapshots with its 5-megapixel auto-focus camera. It’s not picture perfect per se, but after looking over the results, we find them to be more than tolerable for 4” x 6” printouts. Even though its details are average, and its colors can tend to look washed out at times, but as a whole, they’re acceptable enough.




At the same time, its 720p video recording is also decent enough with its quality to use for some of those in the moment situations that don’t come around too often. Details might not be the sharpest looking, nor is color reproduction perfect with its bluish tinge, but they actually don’t diminish the quality at all. Rather, we’re content with the pleasant visuals we’re given, as it moves smoothly at the rate of 29 frames per second and records clear audio. However, its sensitive exposure is blatantly jumpy and causes the white balance to be inaccurate.

Motorola DROID XYBOARD 8.2 Sample Video:



Multimedia:

With the stock Honeycomb music player, we’re always pleased by its glitzy presentation, but it’s becoming all too conventional at this point. Nevertheless, our ears are treated to a harmonious experience thanks to its robust tones, commanding volume output, and available equalizer settings.


Considering it’s an attention grabber on its own, the tablet’s 8.2” IPS display is very easy on the eyes when it comes to watching videos. Loading our test video that’s encoded in DivX 1920 x 1080 resolution, it smoothly plays the entire thing flawlessly with no problems at all – so yeah, it’s a great companion for those long trips! Supplementing the experience, its 2.1 virtual surround sound literally makes us feel as though we’re watching something in a theater.


Mentioning it earlier, the tablet packs along an IR blaster that goes hand-in-hand with the preloaded Dijit personal media application. Essentially, it offers the full functionality of any universal remote – like being able to control all of our home theater equipment. Honestly, it’s neat considering the tablet replaces one common living room gadget we’re accustomed to losing while sitting back on the couch.





Performance:

Hiding away a 3,960 mAh battery, it’s actually similar in size to what most of the 7-inch tablets use nowadays, but considering that this baby has a larger display and connects via 4G LTE, it does cause some alarm right off the bat. Rightfully, our fears are confirmed as we’re only able to get 10 hours of normal usage on a single charge. Obviously, it can probably obtain a whole lot more if you switch to 3G-mode only or use it with Wi-Fi. Still, it’s rather disappointing with its real-world performance.

Conclusion:

After getting comfy using the Motorola DROID XYBOARD 8.2 (XOOM 2 Media Edition), we have to admit, it’s clearly a valiant offering with plenty of lovable characteristics – like 4G LTE connectivity, its exceptional build quality, and gorgeous display. Additionally, it’s able to stand out even further than its contemporaries with its inclusion of an IR blaster and 2.1 virtual surround sound. In all honesty, there’s a lot to like about this beauty, but we can’t overlook the fact that it’s sporting a backbreaking on-contract price of $429.99 for the base model – or $599.99 outright! Just like the XOOM, its pricing might be its biggest handicap, which ultimately might limit its popularity with the masses. Well, if Motorola ends up bringing to market a Wi-Fi only version, it’ll undoubtedly be an admirable contender – that’s as long as the price is right of course.

Android Version: 3.2
Kernel Version: 2.6.35-gb9662e9
Build Number: 1.6.0M-218.14-MZ609

Motorola DROID XYBOARD 8.2 Video Review:





Pros

  • Exceptional build quality
  • Sharp looking display
  • Built-in IR blaster
  • Robust 2.1 virtual surround sound

Cons

  • Choppy performance with web browsing
  • One pricey investment

PhoneArena Rating:

7.0

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