The T-Mobile G1 had it easy; it was the first Android phone on the market, and the only one for a long time. The Motorola Xoom was the one and only Android Honeycomb tablet for just a short while before competitors rampaged the market (if you can call 5 or so a rampage, but you know more are coming). The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the newest kid on the block, and in a space where all share the same basics specs and screen size, it trades on good looks and slimness.
Both the Xoom and Galaxy Tab 10.1 sell for $599 with 32 gigs of storage and WiFi-only. Samsung also offers a version with 16 gigs for $499, while Motorola offers the Xoom with WiFi and 3G (err, 4G upgrade coming some day) for $599 with contract and $799 without. They're both big name brands, and each is or will be available from stores and online with a line of accessories to keep them warm, dry and productive.
Each has a 1280 x 800 capacitive 10.1" display, dual core 1GHz Tegra 2 CPU, dual band WiFi 802.11b, Bluetooth, two cameras and a GPS. With so many similarities, it's no wonder many of you have requested a detailed comparison of the two. And so we have our Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 vs Motorola Xoom Smackdown. We've got an 11 minute video comparison, and our 10 comparison points covered in good old fashioned words below the video.
1. The Motorola Xoom is heavier, but much more ruggedly built. It has a metal frame and a good deal of metal in the casing with a soft touch finish that's grippy. Were I to accidentally turn and bang it into a wall, I'm sure the wall would dent and the Xoom would be fine.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 looks and feels delicate, even more delicate than the iPad 2 and it makes liberal use of plastics. That allows it to weigh less but it's also less sturdy. Motorola Xoom wins.
2. The Motorola Xoom is the equivalent of the Nexus Android phones: it's the poster child for pure Google and as such Google has been bestowing it with OS updates and new features like Movies and Music beta first. If you're an early adopter who likes to get the latest software first, so far the Xoom is the one.
If you don't care about getting the latest bits from Google, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 101. at some point will have a lovely tablet version of TouchWiz, according to Samsung. We've seen this demoed at trade shows earlier this year and found it very appealing. Of course, the software isn't here yet and Samsung won't say when it will be available. Motorola Xoom wins.
3. Display: Both have 1280 x 800 capacitive multi-touch displays. While the Motorola Xoom's display is distinctly average for brightness and color depth, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has an extremely bright and vivid display with colors that pop. It looks every bit as good as the IPS display used on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 wins.
4. Portability: Hands down, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the lightest, slimmest and arguably best looking tablet on the market. In fact, were it not for the wide screen aspect ratio, it's hard to distinguish it from the gorgeous iPad 2.
The Xoom has the well-made, durable and masculine Motorola look that we love so much from the original Droid and the Droid X and Droid X2. But I'd wager that most folks would pick the Tab 10.1 on aesthetics and weight. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 wins.
5. Expandability and ports (microSD, USB and HDMI). This one is a little sticky because Motorola tells us they're still waiting for Google to release the microSD card driver for US Xooms (the bad part about being a pure Google device). But we're still hoping to see it soon. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has no microSD card slot: a clear dead end.
For USB host (the ability to use USB peripherals), the Motorola Xoom steps up and says "can do". It's not easy to find a USB host cable with a micro USB end, so Motorola now sells one as a Xoom accessory for $20 which you can find in Best Buy and other retail locations where the Xoom is sold. The bad part? Right now, the driver only supports PictBridge camera connection rather than general mass storage. Once again,we're waiting on Google.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has no HDMI port, while the Xoom has a micro HDMI port that works fine with HDTVs, monitors and projectors. Samsung just announced their Tab 10.1 accessory line and there will be an adapter for HDMI out, and likewise an adapter for USB host. It looks like they're going the Apple route (not our favorite), and going with a proprietary connector that works with a bunch of buy-later adapters, raising total cost of ownership. You also end up with a gear bag full of dongles that easily lost and add weight (OK, not too much weight). Motorola Xoom wins.
6. File transfer. Just shoot me now, that's what I think whenever I'm forced to use Samsung Kies, that wacky USB protocol Samsung insists on using when straight USB mass storage would do us fine. Samsung just today announced a beta version of Kies for the Mac, and before this, there was absolutely no way to even mount the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to get files on and off the device (double whammy because there's no microSD card as an alternative). Under Windows, the Galaxy Tab mounts using MTP, the media player protocol that's more appropriate to music players than full-featured tablets. The Xoom mounts on Macs and PCs as a mass storage device easily enough (Mac users must download Google's free Honeycomb app to mount Honeycomb tablets but at least it's easy and automatic once installed). Motorola Xoom wins.
7. Speed. Both tablets use the same Nvidia Tegra 2 1GHz dual core GPU with hardware graphics acceleration and have a gig of RAM. The Motorola Xoom benchmarks almost 500 points higher in Quadrant benchmarks (both running Android OS 3.1). But the Tab doesn't feel any slower, and it handles 3D games, Adobe Flash 10.3 and 1080p video as well as the Xoom. Go figure.
Based on the numbers the Xoom wins, but we're tempted to call it a draw until we find something the Galaxy Tab 10.1 can't handle.
8. 3G and 4G. We're sure that some carrier(s) will pick up the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. But for now, if you want embedded 3G (4G in the future if Motorola and Verizon can be believed after delays for that upgrade) the Xoom on Verizon is your choice. Motorola Xoom wins.
9. Battery life is similar on both devices, and each has a sealed battery that's no user replaceable. We find the Xoom lasts longer for movie playback (for some reason, the Tab's battery life suffers more when playing video), but that difference aside, they're quite similar. Tie.
10. Camera: We're still not sure how many of you waive 10" tablets around as cameras and camcorders. That said, both have a decent front 2MP front camera that works for video chat in Gtalk. The Samsung has a 3MP autofocus rear camera with no flash while the Xoom has a 5MP with flash. Motorola Xoom wins.
And don't forget to read our full reviews with video of these two Android Honeycomb tablets:
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review
Motorola Xoom review
All Android Tablet reviews
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