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Home > Android Tablet Reviews > Motorola XYBoard 10.1


Motorola Droid XYBoard 10.1

Editor's rating 4 (scale of 1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: Verizon, also available with just WiFi
Manufacturer: Motorola
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What's hot: Slim, light, quality build. IPS display, 4G LTE, AV remote, dual digitizer with pen included.

What's not: Expensive.


Reviewed December 16, 2011 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Update: Feb. 2012: There's now a WiFi only version that's cheaper and is simply called the Motorola XYBoard 10.1 (no Droid in the name). The only difference is that it lacks 3G/4G.

What a pleasant surprise the Motorola Droid XYBoard 10.1 is! I say that because the Motorola Xoom, the world's first Android tablet, traveled a hard road. At first it was the darling of the Android world because it was the first Android Honeycomb tablet. But it was expensive, available only with a Verizon contract in the US, and soon thinner and lighter tablets like the iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 as well as more innovative tablets like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer eclipsed it. Happily, the Droid XYBoard 10.1 isn't so much an evolution of the Motorola Xoom, but rather a reinvention of Motorola's Android tablet line. Motorola got gutsy and used the Droid name and the Droid RAZR's clipped corners; they went with better quality components and a thin and elegant design too. The end result? An Android tablet that's got what it takes to compete with the best. The bad news? It's still expensive and there's no WiFi only model in the US (yet, maybe we'll see one in the future). In Europe, the tablet is available as the Motorola Xoom 2 minus LTE and the digital pen.

Motorola XYBoard 10.1

Yes, it's Expensive, but so are the iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 on Verizon

You don't have to sign a Verizon Wireless 2 year contract to get this tablet. In fact, depending on your tech refresh habits, that might not be a good idea. But you do have to sign up for a month-to-month plan (no strings attached and you do get lusciously fast LTE 4G in the deal) at the minimum. If you want a $170 price break you can get the Motorola XYBoard in your choice of 16, 32 or 64 gig versions with a 2 year contract and $350 ETF (early termination fee, prorated as you move through the months of your contract). The 16 gig model starts at $529 with contract and $699 without contract. Each jump in capacity will cost you $100 more, with or without contract. Yes, that's expensive, but it's the same price as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 with LTE on Verizon, a now 6 month old tablet. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's look at the tablet itself.

Motorola XYBoard 10.1

Design and Ergonomics

The Motorola Droid XYBoard weighs just 1.33 pounds and is 0.34 inches thin. That matches the measurements of the industry darling iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It's good looking in Motorola's Droidish, masculine way, and the cut off corners are truly reminiscent of the attractive Motorola Droid RAZR Android Smartphone. Those cut off corners cleverly solve the problem of thin tablets whose full corners dig into your palms when holding for extended periods of time. Motorola beats Samsung with their aluminum and soft touch finishes, and though this tablet is uber-thin, it feels solid and deadly. You could hurt someone with the Droid XYBoard.

The sides have a soft touch grippy finish and taper for holding comfort. Moto likes putting the power button on the back, but at least with the XYBoard they've moved it under your right fingertips on the soft touch section on the back edge. The volume controls are here was well, and we wish they had more travel or tactile presence. The back plate is aluminum. The front has a thin bezel that shows off an excellent IPS display with the front video chat camera and notfication LED above the display. The whole thing is tightly put together with no exposed screws or pry points.

Motorola XYBoard 10.1

Stereo speakers on the back near the top fire upward (good thinking, Moto), and are surprisingly loud and full. We really enjoyed listening to the audio tracks on movies using the speakers and music sounds better than average among tablets.

IPS Display and Dual Digitizer

The display runs at the usual Android 10" tablet 1280 x 800 resolution, and it has very wide viewing angles, rich colors and plenty of brightness. You won't want to override the auto-brightness setting in most instances. It's bright enough to combat bright, sunlit rooms and our only complaint is that Motorola's nano coating (also found on the Droid RAZR) combats water better than fingerprints. The display gets yucky fast. And yes, it's glossy, so there's glare. The display is made of durable Gorilla Glass, and as IPS displays go, we put it on par with the iPad 2, better than the Asus Eee Pad Transformer but not quite as good as the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime. We installed the Zinio magazine reader and simply basked in the visual glory of National Geographic on this vivid IPS display. The Xoom's pedestrian LCD display is junk in comparison.

The Droid tablet has another trick up its sleeve: it has a dual digitizer (Amtel). That means it has capacitive multi-touch and an active digitizer with an EMR pen (beefy and powered by a AAA battery). The pen is included in the box and is not an upsell as with the HTC Jetstream, HTC Flyer and Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet. It's more precise than a capacitive pen, and it doesn't work with the smaller Motorola XYBoard 8.2 or other tablets except the HTC Flyer and Jetstream that have N-Trig dual digitizers. Note that HTC's pen for the Flyer and Jetstream doesn't work with the XYBoard 10.1 (likely because it uses a smaller, lower power AAAA battery that doesn't have enough power).


Deals and Shopping:


The pen has no buttons and doesn't support pressure sensitivity (important to artists), but we hope that the XYBoard 10.1, destined for a promised upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich OS 4.0 with serious pen support, will really shine in a month or two. We see no reason why the hardware can't support pressure sensitivity. Motorola includes a notes app and widget as well as an Evernote and Skitch bundle for your pen-based note taking pleasure. We tested art apps like Alias Sketchbook Pro for Honeycomb tablets and enabled pressure sensitivity in settings. Sketching was responsive and pleasant with none of the skipping we experience with a capacitive stylus, but there was no pressure sensitivity. We like the pen's size, but find the tip too fat compared to even the wide-tipped Flyer pen and Wacom pens.

Motorola doesn't include an app that supports converting handwriting to text as with Lenovo's app on the ThinkPad tablet. As a consolation, Skitch links with Evernote so you can create drawings and ink notes and send them to Evernote. The big Droid comes with 4 input methods, including MyScript Stylus Mobile (by Vision Objects, the same company that makes the MyScript Notes app on the Lenovo tablet) that does handwriting recognition. You can write in block letters or cursive, and it does a very good job of recognizing even my abominable left-handed scrawl. There are quite a few settings for handwriting recognition, including setting the recognizer delay, which is handy because auto-correct works so quickly I found there wasn't always enough time to keep an eye on its shenanigans. Palm rejection isn't good (it doesn't consistently ignore your hand if it rests on the display when writing). All in all, we get the feeling Motorola's heart wasn't completely into the XYBoard 10.1's pen features, and that they're waiting for ICS to bring pen support at the OS level.

Motorola also includes the standard Android keyboard along with Swype and the excellent Swiftkey Tablet X on-screen keyboard input methods.

Motorola Droid XYBoard 10.1 Video Review

Here's our in-depth 22 minute video review of the big Droid. Note that I mispronounce XYBoard (I hadn't yet received the proper training from Verizon, my bad). The name is pronounced in the same fashion as xylophone and is supposed to remind you of cyborg.




Verizon 10" tablets stacked: The iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Motorola Droid XYBoard 10.1.

Ports, USB Host

The tablet has a micro HDMI 1.4 port, a micro USB port and a 3.5mm stereo jack. Gone is the Xoom's barrel connector for charging. The micro USB supports slow charging via USB, and the included wall wart charger plugs into this port. The micro USB port also supports USB host, and that means you can use USB peripherals like flash drives and keyboards with the XYBoard if you have a USB host (also called USB OTG) cable. The old Motorola USB host/camera connection cable for the Xoom works, as does Sony's for the Tablet S and various others. We tested keyboards, flash drives and external hard drives and these worked fine. But external drives formatted with NTFS don't work because Honeycomb lacks support for the NTFS file system. Android tablets don't currently support USB modems either (no drivers), but you won't need this since the tablet has 3G and 4G LTE.

Syncing, iTunes, MotoCast and V Cast

On Mac OS X, the XYBoard doesn't mount using the usual Android File Transfer app for Honeycomb, nor does it mount as a mass storage device in Windows. Rather it mounts an installer for MotoCast. That app has two components, a wireless file transfer app that turns your computer into a file server for the XYBoard, and a USB bi-directional media syncing app that syncs iTunes music, video and podcasts and it handles photo transfer. You can use Verizon's V Cast Media Manager to transfer photos, music and videos to and from the tablet but we found it balky and slow on our Mac, so I much prefer the capable MotoCast apps. The iTunes integration is sweet, and it uses a UI that's similar to iTunes, so it should be easy for most folks to use.

MotoCast for wireless is a rebranded version of ZumoCast found on previous Droid smartphones. Moto has a wonderful app here: it's easy to use and it puts all the folders and files you wish to share from your PC or Mac in wireless reach of the XYBoard. You'll create a MotoCast account (old ZumoCast logins don't work), specify which folders you'd like to share with your XYBoard and you're ready to go. Launch MotoCast on the XYBoard and you'll have access to those files. You can play videos stored on your computer, view photos, play music from your iTunes or other music library and access any other file type you wish (MS Office docs, for example) for viewing or copying to the tablet. MotoCast works over WiFi and 3G/4G; you need not have both the computer and tablet on the same wireless network.

Performance and Horsepower

The Droid XYBoard 10.1 runs on a 1.2GHz Texas Instruments OMAP4430 dual core ARM Cortex-A9 family CPU. The chipset uses the capable Imagination Technologies POWERVR SGX540 dedicated graphics chip. TI's dual core chipsets are trendy right now in Android devices, and Google went with it for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Several tablets from other manufacturers coming in early to mid-2012 will also run on this CPU. We assume it plays particularly nicely with Ice Cream Sandwich and 3G/4G radios thanks to the Nexus and other upcoming tablet inclusion, and Motorola's vanilla Android OS on the XYBoard should dovetail nicely with a quick upgrade to Android OS 4.0 ICS. The tablet has the usual 1 gig of RAM, and is available in 16, 32 and 64 gig storage capacities. Sadly, it has no microSD card expansion slot--had Motorola included one, they'd have a strong marketing point vs. the unexpandable Galaxy Tab 10.1 and even the iPad 2.

Experiential speed is good, though the tablet doesn't run leaps and bounds faster than the older Xoom when navigating the UI or running Office apps. It is noticeably more capable and faster when playing HD video. While the Xoom is a bit sluggish with 1080p standard profile MPEG4 content, the XYBoard handles 1080p standard and high profile video with ease (thanks to the TI chip vs. the Tegra 2 with its weak 2D video acceleration). Games are more responsive as is Adobe Flash Player 11. The web browser renders very quickly and the tablet earns a head of the pack score on the Sunspider Javascript test.


  Quadrant Linpack multi-thread AnTuTu Sunspider Javascript Test
XYBoard 10.1 3178 67 5718 1752
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 2400 53 4883 2165
HTC Jetstream 2900 65   2088

Data and LTE

It's hard to not fall in love with LTE 4G, be it on Verizon Wireless' well built-out network or AT&T's fledgling new network. In the XYBoard's case, we've got Verizon LTE with fallback to their 3G EV-DO Rev. A network. The tablet has the mobile hotspot feature so you can share its high speed data connection with tablets, laptops and other clients (AT&T's tablets lack this feature). Reception and data speeds on Verizon's LTE tablets always impress us, and we averaged 18Mbps down and 2Mbps up on average with a weak signal (-90db) and up to 33Mbps down and 15Mbps up in strong signal areas (-75db).

When you turn on WiFi, the tablet automatically turns off the 3G/4G radios to ensure you don't use your data allotment. Verizon offers month-to-month plans and contract plans with the same data plan pricing. The price for 2 gigs/month is $30, 5 gigs for $50 and $80 for 10 gigs. If you go over your monthly allotment, Verizon will charge you $10 per gig.

IR Blaster AV Remote and Dijit

Years ago, it was all the rage to put consumer IR remotes on smartphones, particularly Windows Mobile phones. We're happy that feature is back, and now the Sony Tablet S, Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus and the Droid XYBoard 8.2 and 10.1 have this feature. Each uses a different software solution, with Sony rolling their own that simply controls your AV components with plenty of on-screen buttons (no abbreviated control palette here). Samsung uses Peel with AV remote capabilities that take a back burner to its very impressive on-line TV guide feature. Motorola went with Dijit, a company that also makes iOS solutions, for their AV remote app. It has a large list of supported AV components and brands, and a TV guide grid with a "watch now" feature. It's fun and easy to use, and in our tests it worked well to control our 7 components. The "watch now" button that appears when you view TV show details baffled our Motorola DVR cable boxes, but other than that, we found the experience enjoyable and appropriate for a tablet that spends some serious quality time on the coffee table in front of the TV at night.


Motorola keeps things clean when it comes to the OS. The XYBoard tablets run standard Honeycomb 3.2 with no Motoblur UI, social networking or widgets. Motorola uses their squared off icons, but that's it for OS mods. That's good news for Ice Cream Sandwich (there's less compatibility work to do), but for those who like the UI amenities that Samsung's TouchWiz, Moto's own Motoblur or HTC's Sense add, you won't get it here. The widgets are the basic Android set, and there's no social networking overload on board. Of course, you can download your favorite apps and widgets to liven things up.

Verizon adds several applications. You get their usual account manager, handy data counter widget (the only non-stock widget on board, but it's a very useful one), V Cast Media Manager and VZ Navigator. The ubiquitous Lets Golf 2 is here, as is the popular Madden NFL 12. Blockbuster, VideoSurf and Slingbox are pre-installed. You can remove some but not all pre-installed apps (you can uninstall Blockbuster and the games, but not Slingbox or VZW account manager and Navigator).

Motorola adds their usual business oriented bundle that includes Motoprint wireless printing, MotoCast, GoToMeeting, Quickoffice HD (view, create and edit MS Office docs), Motopack (a portal to more downloadable apps), Polycom, Tasks, Citrix and Fuze Meeting. Evernote and Skitch are here as well.


The XYBoard has a front 1.3 video chat camera that can shoot 720p video and a rear 5 megapixel camera with LED flash that can shoot 1080p video. So far, no tablet's main camera has impressed us other than the 8MP shooter on the HTC Jetstream. But the Moto's is an improvement over the Xoom (OK, that might not say much), and it actually takes nice colorful photos when lighting is good. Outdoor shots are particularly pleasing and focus times are decent as long as there's adequate lighting for focus.

The front video chat camera is noisy in low light, but does fine with office, mall and outdoor lighting. The mic picks up audio clearly and the speakers are loud enough to avoid headsets for calls. We tested the camera with Gtalk and Skype, both of which worked fine. The HTC Flyer's front camera produces higher quality video in Skype, and the Sony Tablet S is worse than the XYBoard 10.1.


The Motorola XYBoard 10.1 has a 7,000 mAh Lithium Ion battery that's sealed inside, as are most tablet batteries. That's quite a high capacity battery for a tablet, and Motorola claims up to 10 hours of continuous use time on a charge. As with most manufacturer's estimates, that's a bit optimistic, but we did get about 7.5 hours on a charge with mixed use that included watching a streaming movie, browsing the web, working on Office documents and social networking with background email and social networking turned on. We used WiFi 50% of the time, and the tablet does have better battery life on WiFi vs. LTE.

If you're on the fence between the XYBoard 8.2 and 10.1, the battery might be the deciding factor: the 8.2" model has room for only a 3960 mAh battery vs. the 7,000 mAh battery in the 10.1.

The first time we charged our XYBoard it took 5 hours to fully charge from 20 to 100 percent. After that, it's taken around 4 hours to charge, which is longer than the 2.5 to 3 hour charge for other tablets. The 10.1 has a high capacity battery relative to some tablets on the market, so we understand that it might take longer to charge, but 4 hours still seems a bit long to charge a drained tablet.


I'll be honest here: I don't understand the hate some reviewers have heaped on Moto's second gen Android tablet. It does a very good job of addressing complaints with their first gen Xoom: it's as thin and light as the most anorexic and popular tablets on the market and it has a clean OS that's not cluttered with overlays that might stand in the way of performance or timely OS upgrades. It has a very good IPS display that shames the Xoom's. Yes, it's expensive, but it's also priced the same as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 on Verizon and the LTE HTC Jetstream on AT&T. Carrier support and endorsements along with LTE mean higher prices, but you do enjoy the convenience of walking into any Verizon store for support and very fast data speeds that aren't tied to the nearest WiFi hotspot. The Motorola Droid XYBoard 10.1 is stylish, light, slim, very well built with quality materials and we trust that Motorola's new found ties with Google can only mean good things for software updates. We like the little extras like the AV remote, dual digitizer with included pen and USB host for USB peripherals. Sure, we'd love to see a lower price, and we'd rate the tablet higher if it were more affordable, but we see it as a solid competitor to the sexy Galaxy Tab 10.1 on Verizon's shelves, especially for business users.

Price: starting at $529 with contract/$699 no contract for the Verizon Version with 3G and 4G LTE. WiFi only model starts at $499.




Motorola XYBoard 10.1



Motorola XYBoard 10.1



Motorola XYBoard 10.1

Directly above and below: the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the XYBoard 10.1.


Motorola XYBoard 10.1


Motorola XYBoard 10.1

Above: the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the XYboard 10.1 are both 0.34" thick.


Motorola XYBoard 10.1


Motorola XYBoard 10.1

Above: the 5MP camera and IR Blaster port for the AV remote.


Motorola XYBoard 10.1


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Display: 10.1" capacitive multi-touch IPS display (Gorilla Glass). Dual digitizer with EMR pen. Resolution: 1280 x 800, supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer, has ambient light sensor and gyroscope. Micro HDMI 1.4 port. 178 degree viewing angle display.

Battery: 7,000 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable. Claimed continuous use time: up to 10 hours video playback, 8 hours web surfing on LTE and 10 hours web surfing on WiFi.

Performance: 1.2GHz Texas Instruments OMAP4430 dual core ARM Cortex-A9 family CPU with Imagination Technologies POWERVR SGX540 graphics chip. 1 gig RAM, and 16, 32 or 64 gigs storage.

Size: 9.9 x 6.8 x 0.34 inches. Weight: 1.33 pounds.

Cellular: CDMA dual band digital 3G EV-DO Rev. A and 4G LTE.

Camera: 1.3MP front video chat camera with 720p video recording and rear 5 megapixel camera with LED flash and 1080p video recording.

Audio: Built in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.

Software: Android OS 3.2 Honeycomb. Adobe Flash Player included. Standard suite of Google Android applications including web browser, email, gmail, YouTube, Maps, Navigation, Gtalk, Search and the Android Market. V Cast Media Manager and VZ Navigator. Dijit AV Remote, Lets Golf 2, Madden NFL 12. Blockbuster, VideoSurf, Slingbox, Motoprint, MotoCast, GoToMeeting, Quickoffice HD (view, create and edit MS Office docs), Motopack, Polycom, Tasks, Citrix and Fuze Meeting. Evernote and Skitch.

Expansion: USB host for USB peripherals (requires USB OTG host cable not included). No microSD card slot.


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