Review: Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition

 
This is an archive page, the content is no longer up to date.
Published: March 15, 2012 10:39 AM
By Romain Thuret
Translated by: Hugh Ehreth
One year after the release of the first Xoom, Motorola has revised its tablet with a new model whose style and software follow in the footsteps of the company's Defy and Razr smartphones. With an 8.2-inch display, the Xoom 2 Media Edition is 2 inches smaller than the original Xoom and utilises Motorola's very own content management software, Motocast.

motorola xoom 2 side


The Xoom 2 ME runs on a 1.2 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 dual-core processor, with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. Like its predecessor, the capacitive touchscreen boasts IPS technology (updated with the newest version) and Gorilla Glass protection. As for ports, it includes 1 micro-USB, 1 micro-HDMI, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

There's a 5 Mpx camera on the back with an LED flash, and an infrared emitter/detector to transform your tablet into a universal remote.

The Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition is being sold at the suggested price of £329.99.

motorola xoom 2 home

 

Hardware & Handling

Apparently designed to be held portrait-style, with its 8.2-inch display the Xoom 2 Media Edition is unfortunately not one of the easiest tablets to wrap your fingers around. It's a far cry from the 7-inch tablets on the market (or even the Galaxy Tab 7.7), and aside from the N'avi from Avatar, we don't see who could possibly use this thing with only one hand. The upper and lower frames around the screen are twice as wide as the lateral frames, which are a bit too wide as is.

Motorola xoom2 back


The back of the Xoom 2 ME is made of a combination of aluminium and soft-touch material, in a style reminiscent of the Archos 101 Internet Tablet. Is that to help dissipate heat better? Probably not—in any case, if that was the idea, then it's a fail.

The visible screws give the whole thing an industrial feel that may please... some users. Also, the ON/OFF button and volume control are located on the back, which isn't all that practical, especially when you're trying to get to them without looking.

Motorola xoom2 on


When taking photos and video, you find there's another drawback to the "portrait" configuration: the camera is located at the top of the tablet's backside, but the Photo function in both the tablet itself and Android requires you to turn the device and hold it in landscape position, which means you have to be very careful where you put your fingers so as not to obstruct the camera.

In landscape mode, the side speakers on the Xoom 2 are "conveniently" located right where your hands go, so you necessarily end up blocking them with your fingers. Fortunately, in portrait mode the sound automatically switches to the top speakers, in stereo.

Motorola xoom2 ports


Let's take a minute to mention the interesting slot cover that's right next to the micro-HDMI and micro-USB ports. This was apparently designed for microSD and SIM card slots but there are no microSD and SIM card slots underneath. It's a bit of a waste and reminds us of the Iconia Tab 500—the manufacturers use the same moulds for both the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi/3G versions. This method must be more practical for the manufacturer, but it doesn't leave a great impression for the end user.

One good idea that Motorola had was to put LED info lights on both the top and bottom of the tablet when holding it in portrait mode. The top LED tells you when you've received an e-mail and the bottom one tells you when the battery's low.

Screen

The IPS display on the first Xoom was just about standard for the time it was released. The Xoom 2 Media Edition has a new-generation IPS touchscreen, which according to Motorola gives it more brightness, more colours, more contrast, more everything. As far as contrast is concerned, the tablet lives up to its marketing promise with an average ratio of 1001:1, making it one of the best in the sector, ahead of Apple's iPad 2.

When it comes to colour accuracy, however, the Xoom 2 gives an average Delta E of 8.4 (average Delta E measures colour fidelity—the closer to 0 the better, and anything over 3 means the shades are inaccurate). The colour temperature is, on average, 6896 K with a practically flat curve, giving the image a nearly neutral tone (which is a good thing).

The Xoom 2 ME has a maximum brightness of 400 cd/m², which, paired with the good contrast ratio, lets you easily view content in an outdoor setting, despite the reflections you so often see when looking at tablets from an angle.

Interface & Browsing

As with most devices running Android Honeycomb 3.2, the Xoom 2 stays true to form by exhibiting a certain strain when trying to operate Google's OS smoothly. You frequently get little hiccups when moving from one desktop to another, and multi-tasking can be shaky.

Motorola xoom2 desktop


There's no powerful additional interface like HTC's Sense or Samsung's TouchWiz, but the official Google icons have been touched up, although at times incongruously. And never mind the camera and photo gallery, what we want to know is: what could Motorola possibly have been thinking by introducing an Equaliser app that boasts amazing audio control, when the icon simply sends you to the basic old Sound Settings menu? Worse still, the Web browser icon defies all logic: it's square, busy and inspiring of anything but surfing the Net.

The Xoom 2 Media Edition comes with several pre-installed apps, most of which (Citrix, Fuze Meeting, GoToMeeting) are designed for professionals rather than the general public, which is supposedly the targeted consumer base. What's more, other than MotoCast, there's no hint of any multimedia software, like a video player or e-book reader, for instance. Pretty strange for a "Media Edition", don't you think?

Motorola xoom2 emitter


Then there's Dijit, an app that uses the infrared emitter/detector to supposedly transform your tablet into a universal remote. Unfortunately, this function doesn't come close to what the Sony S tablet is capable of when it comes to installation and use. To make a (very) long story short, you just end up getting lost. For each brand of appliance there's a plethora of links without any description to products you're supposed to be able to control. And if ever you do succeed in connecting to the right TV, Blu-ray player or router, then the gods are surely smiling on you.

Multimedia

The web browser isn't the fastest on the market, but the display is clear in both modes. When you're holding it portrait-style, you don't have to zoom in to see things clearly. And that's all the better, because the zoom function isn't as smooth as it could be. In fact, it's pretty choppy and you can tell it has trouble following through (it's fairly common to accidentally select a link when you're trying to zoom in and out).

Motorola xoom2 web


Playing videos with the Xoom 2 Media Edition can be a bit contradictory. The basic player only handles the classic Google Android formats (mp4, H.264, MPEG-4), so you have to use a different player, like MX or DICE Player, to read most multimedia files in workable conditions.

And then there's MotoCast, your multimedia content manager. This requires initial installation on every computer you connect your tablet to. It's a bit fastidious, but all you have to do is connect the Xoom 2 to any computer (Mac or PC) for the first time, and you see a message offering to install MotoCast. Like a slightly more flexible version of iTunes, MotoCast allows you to sync and export your multimedia content.

Motorola xoom2 motocast


It's too bad that the only way to import music is via iTunes, but "all you have to do" is import your music once on iTunes and then sync it with MotoCast. So, what happened to "open"? As for videos, you can choose whether or not to have MotoCast convert your files on the fly and make them compatible with the Google player. This is a long process. Too long.

Video streaming, however, is a welcome function on the Xoom 2 (although you can't play content with DRM restrictions). MotoCast can access every computer on which you install it, as long as the computer's on and contains photos, videos or music. The quality does the job and streaming goes quickly when you have a fast connection.

Battery Life

With its 3900 mAh battery, the Xoom 2 ME will never rank as highly in terms of lifespan as the original Xoom or the iPad, which are some of the best in the sector. In video mode with Wi-Fi turned off, this 8-inch tablet expires after 5 hours and 35 minutes, which is just about how long it lasts when performing multiple other tasks (Web browsing, e-mail, games, publishing, etc.). In video mode with Wi-Fi on, the Xoom 2 Media Edition's battery lasts just over 5 hours.
3/5 Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition DigitalVersus 2012-03-15 11:39:00

Pros

  • A generally pleasing screen, even when outdoors
  • MotoCast good for managing digital content and playing it remotely
  • Infrared emitter/detector
  • LED info light

Cons

  • No memory upgrades possible
  • Camera and speaker location
  • Battery life
  • Choppy zooming
  • Universal remote function less intuitive than on the Sony S
  • No Android 4.0 at the moment

Conclusion

The Xoom 2 Media Edition has a lot going for it. It also has its share of failings, such as the sloppy handling issues, the lack of Android 4.0 update (for now, at least), the lack of memory upgrades, low battery life for a mobile device, and the fact that it generally doesn't run as smoothly as the Galaxy Tab 7.7. Efforts are still needed to make MotoCast more practical, to make operation smoother, and to clean up the universal remote function.

OUR SCORE 3/5
ADVERTISING