We've been fortunate to get to spend a week with Motorola's new Xyboard 10.1, one of two Moto tablets that have recently been released as follow-ups to the Xoom. Outside the US they're known as the Xoom 2 and Xoom 2 Media Edition, but in hopes of distancing these devices from the not-so-successful launch of the Xoom early in 2011, Moto's made a name change that they're hoping will help them to sell a few more tablets before the quad core devices take over the market. So what did we think of the Xyboard?

The world of Android tablets may be vast and varied, but many commonalities run through Honeycomb slates when you're talking hardware and software. Such is the case with the Xyboard 10.1. Moto has done a bang-up job with this machine, and it's a worthy successor to the OG Xoom in a variety of ways. However, it falls flat in some keys areas, as we were quick to find out. Let's start by reviewing the specs.
  • OMAP 4 1.2 GHz Dual Core Processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • Android 3.2 Honeycomb (ICS Upgrade Promised)
  • 10.1" 1280x800 IPS LCD Display with Stylus Support
  • 4G LTE and Wifi Connectivity
  • Rear 5MP Camera with LED Flash; Front-Facing 1.3MP Webcam
  • 16GB, 32GB, 64GB configurations
  • 7000mAh Battery (Rated for 10 Hours of Normal Use)
  • Weight: 603g
  • Thickness: 8.8mm
The spec sheet reads just like most Honeycomb tablets of the last year, with the same amount of RAM, similar storage options, and a processor that's slightly higher in frequency, but nothing to write home about. This, again, brings up the point that it's become much more difficult to differentiate tablets based on their specs. It's really become more about user experience, and the subtle differences each manufacturer makes to their device.

Design:

Moto's new design, with it's clipped corners, is an interesting one, and it does fit with the new design style we're seeing out of the mobile arm of the company. As with the Razr, we're seeing Moto move away from the strictly boxy designs of previous devices. You get the feeling that someone at the top saw a concept drawing and said, "Now, that's the way to be different!". While we have no insight into what future Moto devices will look like, it's probably a safe bet that this design choice is going to be around for a little while. That choice might not matter so much for a smartphone, but on a tablet the odd angled corners have a tendency to make it uncomfortable to hold for long periods, since they always seem to dig into your palms.

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Aside from the corners, though, Moto has produced a very solid device in terms of build quality. The sturdy gray backplate and soft-plastic edges around the device make for a lovely combination, if you're basing it on looks alone. That black plastic is also great for better grip. If we had to nitpick, we'd have to say that the recessed power button and volume rocker are difficult to find by feel alone. Especially the volume rocker.

Software and Performance:

The Xyboard is running on Honeycomb 3.2, the latest standard, with an upgrade to ICS promised in the next year. That alone does raise a small warning flag. If you're looking for the latest and greatest, you'll certainly be better off waiting out the next couple of months and seeing what we dig up during our coverage of events like CES 2012. Quad core devices are going to become the norm, as is Ice Cream Sandwich, and nobody who lives on the cutting edge of tech can possibly stand waiting 6+ months for an upgrade to ICS on a tablet that's already using dated technology. A concern for those looking to root this tablet is also the fact that it has a locked bootloader.

Overall, the performance of the Xyboard is on par with other tablets on the market. Battery life is about 8 hours of average use. Average use we classify as intensive web browsing, some gaming, app use, and streaming some videos over YouTube and Netflix. This was all done over the LTE connection, however. If you're going to be using a lot of wifi, you can probably push this to about 10 hours. In markets where Verizon has LTE, connection speeds are stellar, as well. On average we see about 17Mpbs download speeds, but have seen them as high as 30, and as low at 7. During our time with the Xyboard, unfortunately Verizon was experiencing some issues with their LTE network, which prevented us from running more extensive speed tests on it.

If you're looking to the Xyboard for taking photos, you may want to look elsewhere. As with most tablets, it's not exactly the greatest shot snapper. That isn't to say the photo quality is bad, because it's not. It's just not that good either. The 5MP shooter takes a decent shot with enough light, but put it in a low-light situation and all bets are off. Outdoors the camera performs slightly better, but in or out the color quality leaves much to be desired. Colors are not at all vivid, thought the images are crisp. Here's a couple of examples.

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Overall Thoughts:

When you consider your next tablet, or if you're thinking of giving the Xyboard a try, there are few things you absolutely have to consider. The Xyboard makes a great media tablet. It streams video and plays games very well. However, the technology is already dated. Quad core tablets and phones with at least 2GB of RAM are right around the corner. For what you'll pay for this device, it's our opinion that you'd be better off keeping those hundreds (thousands if you consider the 2-year contract for LTE) of dollars in your pocket for something that's going to wow your buddies, rather than getting a reactionary, "Meh".​

The 16, 32, and 64GB models of the Xyboard run $530, $630, and $730 respectively. Compare that to the Transformer Prime's wifi-only price of $500 and $600 for the 32 and 64GB models, and it doesn't take a PHD in fractal mathematics to see that the cost to benefit ratio just doesn't really add up. However, there is something to be said of an always-on LTE connection, so it's really your choice as to what you consider important. Is the Xyboard worth the expense? In our estimation, no. Is it a nice piece of kit? Absolutely. It's got a solid build, great hardware, and some fantastic features for media consumption and productivity. There are better things coming, though. However, if you're always waiting to buy a tablet, hoping something better and cheaper comes along, you'll be waiting forever. It's just the way it is in the world of tech. Something meaner, leaner, and cheaper is always on the horizon.​

If you'd like to read a much more in-depth review of the Xyboard and its featur
es, our friends over at The Gadgets have you covered.​
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