Which tablet should I buy? iPad vs Xoom

Comparing specs is one thing, but finding relevance to your own specific needs is worth considering

If travel is part of your work agenda, then it’s vital that you explore the available tablets that are on the market today. Comparing specs is one thing, but finding relevance to your own specific needs is worth considering. Apple was the first “tab off the rank” with its ingenious iPad, but since then a bloom of competitors has emerged with new innovations. In February 2011, Motorola brought out the Xoom — which has since given Apple a run for its money.

Exploration of the two tablets reveals their similarities sooner than their differences. These start with similar screen sizes — iPad 2’s screen is slightly smaller than the Xoom screen at 9.7 inches to 10.1 inches — even though their aspect ratios differ resulting with a different effect when turned on.

They both have 1GHz dual core processors, so speed is not an issue. They both have cameras both in the front and at the back, as well as other useful additives such as Bluetooth, 3G, wi-Fi, a gyroscope, an accelerometer and access to many apps.

Probably the most notable difference is with the operating systems. The Xoom’s operating system is remarkably better. The Android 3.0, also known as Honeycomb, is better able to multitask as well as handles notifications and app switching to a higher level. It has better widgets, is better customised to your own needs and has more features. The iOS 4.3 has been tweaked but comparatively just doesn’t make the mark.

The traveller should note that the Xoom is a CDMA + Wi-Fi device, whereas the iPad has GSM + Wi-Fi and CDMA + Wi-Fi models. The iPad, therefore, can be used anywhere in the world on GSM networks whereas the CDMA version is limited to those countries that use CDMA. One can use international roaming on the CDMA which doesn’t have the same reputation as GSM. When travelling overseas this is valuable to consider prior to purchase.

The Xoom has the capability for 32GB of internal memory which can be used as a backup drive. It’s simple to plug into the micro-USB port and use it like any other external hard drive. The iPad has up to 64GB internal memory it’s not easily used as an external hard drive. So if backup is important during your venture, take note.

A visually noticeable difference is in the speakers. The Xoom features stereo speakers. The speakers are useful to the business traveller who needs to listen to information in a more highly sophisticated way, or enjoys listening to music — most important when finding the balance between work and rest whilst on the go.

Resolution is another differing factor — iPad 2’s resolution is 1024 x 768 vs Xoom’s resolution being 1280 x 800 — the iPad 2 has LED backlighting whereas Xoom has higher resolution. This counterbalances this difference making user experience unnoticeably different.

Ability to easily charge your tablet can be important, depending on the duration of the journey. Interestingly the Xoom can be charged using a connector with a 12VDC input. This works in cars as long as you remember to take the separate charger.

Apple, however, have standardised charger connectors and five volt system which is compatible with all USB Power supplies. Definitely a plus for the iPad 2 — it’s the small things that can make travelling just a little easier.

All in all your business and travelling needs are well catered to by the Xoom and the iPad 2. However, closer recognition renders the Xoom to have just that little bit more. Its multi tasking capability probably outweighs everything else as its advanced operating system makes your functional needs better catered to.

Motorola Xoom vs Apple iPad 2: Specs

Motorola Xoom Apple iPad2
Screen Size 10.1 9.7
Processor 1GHz Dual-Core NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz Dual-Core Apple A5
Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
3G Yes Yes
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n
Wi-Fi Only Model No Yes
Operating System Android 3.0 iOS 4.3
Capacity 32GB 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
Screen Resolution 1280 x 800 1024 x 768
Size (inches) 9.8 x 6.6 x 0.5 9.5 x 7.3 x 0.34
Weight 1.35 Ibs 1.6 Ibs
Camera 5MP rear, 2MP front 720p rear, VGA front
Video Mirroring Yes Yes
Flash Support Coming soon No
SD Card Slot Coming soon No
Battery Life 10.00 mfr est 10.00 mfr est
Price $599 - $799 $499 - 829

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