The Motorola Xoom Android tablet goes on sale in the UK this week, bringing a first taste of Android Honeycomb at long last. Electricpig has been playing with one over the weekend and will be bringing you a full verdict tomorrow. But in the meantime, if you passed on the iPad 2 and have been waiting patiently for Honeycomb, here are ten cast-iron reasons your gamble has paid off…

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1. It isn’t enslaved by iTunes
It’s absurd that a device that is meant to redefine computing still has to be chained to a PC for updates. And you know what, iTunes is almost starting to look old-fashioned – it’s laggy and bloated. Simply plug in the Motorola Xoom via micro USB, and you can copy across whatever files you like, or use the excellent, free and streamlined doubleTwist desktop app for iTunes-style syncing.

2. Praise the Lord, it’s got Flash
How the hell have Apple got away with this for so long? Without Flash, a large proportion of videos and websites pop up with a ‘Haha, you’re not in our gang’ message and refuse to work properly. Ok, to be fair the situation is getting better, but it’s simply not an issue for the Xoom, which uses the latest Adobe Flash 10.2 plug-in to play any video you can find on the internet.

3. The keyboard is vastly superior
While Apple’s QWERTY touchscreen keyboard on the iPhone has still yet to be matched, the iPad’s is a different story. On the iPad 2, it’s responsive enough but there’s no form of prediction to speed up your typing. The Motorola Xoom however uses an enlarged version of the stunning keyboard found in Android 2.3, which pops up with suggested words above as you type. Oh, and because it’s Android, you can install any other keyboard that takes your fancy too.

4. Notifications don’t bring it to a grinding halt
Apple’s iOS notification system is certainly its Achilles’ heel, and it’s felt even more acutely on the iPad 2′s much larger screen. Whenever anything happens, it stops whatever you’re doing and throws a message in your face. By contrast, the Motorola Xoom’s notification set up is elegant. Instead of the pull down tray on Android phones, you have a small area in the bottom right hand corner where new messages like pop up. You can remove the pop up with a tap, open it, or just ignore it completely – point is, the choice is yours.

5. A HDMI cable won’t cost you a kidney
You can connect both an iPad 2 and a Motorola Xoom to your TV to play HD video back on the big screen – but the latter will cost significantly less to do so. Apple’s 30-pin port requires the company’s own Digital AV Adapter, which costs a full £35, where as the Xoom uses a regular micro HDMI cable, which can be had for just a few pounds online.

6. It’s a multi-tasking genius
We’re not going to get sucked into the argument about whether iOS multitasking is true multitasking or not – suffice to say it’s enough for most. But Apple could learn from Google in this respect still: we much prefer the live thumbnails you see when you pop the multitasking button on the Xoom. It’s just easier to see what lies beyond, where the iPad gives you impenetrable stock icons.

7. Somebody actually thought about the homescreen
The iPad 2 is a beautiful device, but every time we look at the home screen, we wince at all the real estate going to waste. Couldn’t you just have all those icons in one corner, and leave the rest for widgets? Android 3.0 on the Xoom lets you slap widgets, shortcuts and contacts anywhere you like on multiple homescreens, and leaves the list of apps for a separate menu screen you can summon on command.

8. You can upgrade the storage cheaply
How about some hot swappable storage space on your slate? While it’s not active right now (Motorola says a firmware update is coming), the Motorola Xoom sports a microSD slot, so you’ll be able to pop in cards of up to 32GB as you please. Of course, you can get the iPad 2 in flavours up to 64GB in size, but they cost a lot more – and you can’t switch it out at will.

9. Voice actions are built in
Apple’s voice command controls remain fairly limited, while Google vastly improved its voice options with Android 2.2 and up. They make even more sense on a tablet, which you’re more likely to be using in the comfort of your home, and you’ll prefer not to type on if possible. Telling the Xoom what to search for just makes perfect sense.

10. It’s got a killer browser
Using the browser on the Motorola Xoom feels just like a refined Chrome on a computer. It’s fast, with tabs visible at the top instead of in a separate window a la Safari on iOS, voice controls are included and you can even open up an incognito tab to surf for, er, ‘surprise birthday presents’.

  • Greg Dixon

    How very dare you dis the iPad. For a start there is no lower case i infront of Xoom, and there is no queue I can stand in to get it. If it was an iXoom I might buy it, heck I’d even take 2 days off work to be laughed at standing in Covent Garden to be one of the first 200* to buy it. However, I’ll stick within the (many) limits of my iPad.

    *excludes those who were sensible enought to mail order

    • Carly

      Good article, by someone with objective thinking rather than the usual Applezombie nonsense.

      Apple is the master of style over substance and their brand marketing is undoubtedly brilliant, but the products are not matching up to the hype, the xoom probably won’t either but its spec is sound.
      The first poster seems to be something of a fashion follower, sad really.

      There is room in this world for other tablets than the ifad you know and not all of us go baaaaa….

      • Deanavfc

        Ever heard of sarcasm. Lol

        • Carly

          Lowest form of wit I heard.

  • Andy Hall

    I have a Xoom on pre-order, but the main thing iPad will have over all other tablets for quite a while is the apps. It was the same with smartphones a few years back but now Android has well and truly caught up and now is neck and neck. Until Honeycomb get’s more tablet apps (which it will), iPad will be a much more attractive proposition to many. I’m a big fan of Android, but i’m smart enough to know that iPad still has the tablet market in it’s hands and will do for a while for those reasons.

  • Patrick Johnson

    I saw a Demo on a website using the xoom and they said they had to turn off the water effects as it slowed down the xoom to much. So yes its better than the ipad NOT. And NO i do not own an ipad.

  • Hardcourt

    … all is true and all will change again within months if not weeks….
    Apple have 90% of the tablet market, because they have no real competition yet, but the zoom features, as described, mean that soon Apple will have the same share of tablets as it does PCs ( less than 10% ) and in a few years wonder why it share value bottomed….
    Like the MP3 player, Apple did a nice job ahead of all others, but now i get a free mp3 player 10gig when I buy 3 pints or more at my local…. patience… Apple have time as an advantage…. nothing more, most of the features the customers ask for Apple dont give. Who would design a device that appreciates you want to quickly load images on to it via an SD card… then prevent you easily taking them back off unless you hook up to another PC or send to an email account and then download and then transfer to Sd and then you give the images to your MOM !
    Apple, so sour !

  • Anonymous

    I agree with most of those points, thought to be fair on point nine, that’s easiy circumvented. Just download Dolphin Browser HD and set the user agent to desktop.

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