Interface and Functionality:

Another first that the XOOM can claim to fame is being the first tablet on the market to feature a 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor which operates at a feverish rate – all the while showing off some nifty looking visuals. On the other hand, the 1GHz Apple A4 processor is found powering the iPad internally. Impressively, the two devices exhibit a high rate of performance in almost every aspect with very little lag to muddy down its operation. However, it’s quite noticeable that the iPad has the more fluid response in scrolling, while there are some instances of choppiness with the XOOM in navigating around its homescreen. Even so, we’re still excited to see everything moving at a rate that’s easily high above water than other offerings.

So it’s the never ending battle between Android and iOS, but they’re now on the same playing field since Android 3.0 Honeycomb is optimized for tablets – whereas previous Android tablets merely ported over the smartphone experience. On one side, iOS on the iPad is a very simplistic platform that’s straightforward enough for anyone to quickly learn at a first go over. However, it doesn’t offer much in terms of personalization since you’re only limited to things like rearranging icons on the homescreen, changing the wallpaper, and grouping icons together to make folders. Oppositely, we love the myriad of ways that you can personalize the XOOM thanks to its useful widgets, live wallpapers, and various toggles. Furthermore, the futuristic appearance of Honeycomb makes it feel so different versus what’s out there, and that’s one of the alluring things about its presentation.

Attempting to type something up while using the portrait keyboard, we find the XOOM to be more comfortable to use since there isn’t a much travel required by your thumbs – partly due to its narrower layout. However, the predictive text option of the iPad is still the preferred choice between the two since it works almost flawlessly. And when using the landscape keyboards, they provide a responsive feel that makes typing feel very natural and without making too many mistakes along the way. Moreover, the spacious layout almost mimics any physical keyboards out there – so we’re pretty much satisfied with the experience of both tablets.

When it comes down to the Gmail experience, it’s very easy to see why any Android device would win so easily in this category – but that’s mostly because it brings over a lot of the elements found with the desktop experience. The  email interfaces on both are once again almost similar, seeing that they heavily utilize various panes to display content, but the XOOM’s close appearance and functionality to the Gmail desktop experience elevates it over the iPad. Still, it’s not bad with iOS, since you’re treated to an optimized experience, but doesn’t have the depth of functionality and productivity that radiates with the XOOM.

Fortunately, most of the core apps offered by each tablet take advantage of the roomier confines of their large displays – thus providing some usefulness without much complications. For example, the calendar apps are closely identical with their presentation as they intricately display pertinent appointments on one side while giving you the full view of your calendar. In addition, we see the same paned characteristics found on other apps, like address book, since one area gives you access to your listing, while the other displays the relevant information associated with each contact.

Multi-tasking is one area that keeps any tablet user motivated and productive, but between the two, we feel that the XOOM’s deployment and implementation is particularly more inviting. In fact, it’s mostly attributed to the powerful dual-core processor it’s packing as a good chunk of non-intensive apps retain their positions. Granted that the iPad can move around opened apps, it’s not at the same level that’s exhibited by the XOOM. Actually, we’re impressed with the XOOM because we were able to continue where we left off in a 3D intensive game after switching back and forth through a variety of apps.

Lastly, the notifications system with Honeycomb is light years ahead of what’s available with iOS because it’s informative without being too obtrusive. Likewise, we see notifications coming in with other apps, like Twitter or Facebook, that keep you aware of things happening in real time – where on the iPad, you literally have to launch each app to see what’s new. Kudos to Google on keeping this in mind as they developed the platform!

Internet and Connectivity:

Web browsing is a fantastic experience on both tablets since they fully make use of the real estate, but when you meticulously compare their performance, it’s evident that Safari on the iPad exhibits the more fluid response between the two. It’s especially prominent with its smooth pinch-to-zoom gestures and kinetic scrolling. On the other hand, the same execution on the Android browser is acceptable by any means, but you can sense it’s not as tight as the iPad. Right now, the XOOM lacks support for Flash 10.1, but it shouldn’t be long before it’s available – giving it that true desktop like feel. Likewise, we adore how the Android browser will sync with your Google Chrome bookmarks and provides the no cookies left behind function of incognito mode.

As we mentioned already, the one strategic advantage seen with the Motorola XOOM is that it’ll be able to connect to Verizon’s 4G LTE network in the future; while still offering 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. When the time arrives, it’ll complement the already speedy nature of the tablet – thus giving you complete freedom in uploading and downloading items. Conversely, the 3G version of the iPad will get it connected with AT&T’s 3G network; which should prove to be sufficient for most people out there. Moreover, the XOOM can act as a mobile hotspot that will share its data connectivity via Wi-Fi or through a USB connection. Although it’s not available with the iPad, hopefully a software update down the road will enable a similar functionality.

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