Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Xoom Part 2

Okay, since my first comments regarding the Xoom, I've played with it on a handful more occasions.

I've tried it both as just a user-less machine with no particular account attached and also by syncing in much of my Google account so that everything worked as designed.  I tried Gmail, Google searching, various sites via browsing, Amazon Cloud Player (the app), the Kindle App, Angry Birds (of course!), Youtube, Google Maps,  and looked for the Netflix app (apparently there isn't one for this device, and it's not supported in the browser).

Basically my opinion hasn't changed.  I don't really like it.  It's heavy.  Yeah, I know that I could eventually find a perfect holder/case/cover that would make it easy to hold, prop up and even add a keyboard.  However, out of the box it was never comfortable to use.  The most comfortable was when I just laid the thing down on the desk.  At that point it became a really big glass touchpad that happened to have moving color displayed items on it.  (Hey, this might not be a bad thing.  See all versions of Star Trek after the original series).

A Few Good Points

I'll admit that I was impressed by a few features.  It's Android and I consider that a plus.  Honeycomb was quite impressive though I don't like the visual appearance for some reason.  It seems to have borrowed the theme of the latter day Tron movie, interesting and slick, but tiring and even annoying after a while.  It was slick and sort of responsive though there's a noticeable delay when you try to do things sometimes.   You tap or drag and it seems to take just a moment to catch up with what you're trying to do.  The operation and design of the menus was okay and fairly functional.  It didn't take too long to get used to them.

HD Youtube video on the display looked pretty good so maybe I was wrong about my first impression of the resolution, i.e., that it looked “soft.”  The Youtube feature where you see the big scrolling wall of videos is impressive.  It's not clear that it has any practical value at all.  I can hardly think of any video I've watched by browsing, I watch a video either because someone sent it to me or I searched for something.

The battery life was good.  Again, I didn't use it much but I've had the thing over a week now and have never plugged it in.

It wasn't too difficult to find the MAC address when needed to set up wireless.

The Gmail app redesign for Honeycomb is quite slick.  Once again, I don't know if I'd prefer it to the more standard layout, but it is functional.

The Biggest Problem

Here's the biggest problem with this tablet and, I think, with all current pad devices.  When you sync your Google accounts with it (which is pretty much just like you would with your Android phone) it becomes your device.  If anyone else uses it, they'll be authenticated to Google as you with all of your authorization.  This makes it extremely un-useful as a device that's just laying around for any family member or visitor to use.

In fact, this is where the ChromeOS notebook is a big win and, IMHO, a much more useful device than the tablet.  Anyone can pick it up and log on.  If their Google accounts are set up to sync, then it becomes their device until they log off.   Their whole world is just automatically available  and present with no noticeable syncing or downloading.  Then they can log off and another person can come on, type in their userid and password and the same is true for them.

I could probably learn to get faster but, at this point, I can literally type just as fast on my Android Nexus S phone screen as on the 10-in tablet.


Okay, you should probably take into consideration that I thought voice mail was useless and opted out of taking part in an early trial.  I also thought the web was just for marked-up documents and would not be appropriate for applications and software.   I don't like the Xoom tablet and am still happy to put it back in the box.

My phone does what I need and, for me, does it better and more conveniently.

For a tablet-sized device, I think the 11-inch Macbook Air is the most wonderful solution out there.

I've been evaluating a ChromeOS notebook for months now and I'd take it over the Xoom anytime, even with it's faults.  The ChromeOS device was immediately useful, including for real work, and I was able to use it for a couple of weeks as my only machine at work.  The Xoom didn't even begin to be useful for any sort of real work.

I'll be interested to see the next devices to come out.  Maybe they'll capture my heart and mind.


P.S.   Yes, I've played with the iPad's 1 and 2 briefly and my reaction was bascially the same.  I don't remember the sensation of them being uncomfortably heavy though.

P.P.S.  You might say the Xoom weighs less than a lot of books.  I thought about this and wondered why books don't seem so bothersome.   Maybe it's because the book really is more pleasant and comfortable to hold when reading than a flat slab.  When I think about it, I've used a clip board for taking notes and checking things off, but never really as a platform for reading.  For reading I'd probably staple the sheets together and hold them, folding and rolling them up in various ways that made them easier to hold.

See Also

My earlier comments on the iPad in 2010-01-30.