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Tablet deathmatch: Motorola Xoom vs. Apple iPad

Galen Gruman | March 4, 2011
As Apple commences shipping of the iPad 2, the first viable Android competitor packs a punch does battle with the original iPad.

Both the Xoom and the iPad offer remote wipe, SSL message encryption, and timeout locks. If your Xoom is lost or stolen, you can lock or wipe it via your Google account or via Exchange. (Strangely, the Xoom doesn't come with the handy service Motorola Mobility provides its Atrix users to track a lost or stolen device and lock it or wipe its contents remotely.) Apple also supports remote lock and wipe; you even get the free Find My iPad service to track your iPad's location from a Web browser, iPhone, iPod Touch, or other iPad, and disable or wipe the device if you want.

The Xoom's Android OS can back up contact, calendar, and email data wirelessly to Gmail, as well as system settings and application data to Google's servers. The iPad too can back up such data to the cloud if you subscribe to Apple's US$99-per-year MobileMe service. Syncing the iPad to your computer's iTunes also backs up the data (and encrypts it, if you desire) without requiring MobileMe. iTunes backs up everything: your media, your apps, their settings, their data, and most of your preferences. (iTunes can be configured for use in the enterprise, though most companies don't know that.)

The winner: The iPad, without question. The Xoom has brought in a key business security capability (encryption) but hasn't gone as far as needed by most businesses in its EAS support—a surprise, given that the Motorola Mobility Atrix released around the same time has those capabilities.

Deathmatch: Hardware
Although the real value of a tablet comes from its OS and apps, you can't get to them without the hardware they run on. Note that some of the hardware advantages of the Xoom will be erased by the arrival of the iPad 2 on March 11. The new iPad will sport a dual-core A5 chip that in my cursory use of a prototype iPad 2 this week does noticeably speed the iPad 2's browser at least. The iPad 2 also add sfront and rear cameras (supporting FaceTime videoconferencing and motion video capture), and supports display mirroring through a US$39 HDMI-out connector. It will also support 3G tethering, another feature present in Xoom but lacking in the original iPad.

Performance. The Xoom has a dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra processor, whereas the iPad has a single-core 1GHz Apple A4 processor; both are based on the ARM chip architecture. Despite the Xoom's second core, I didn't find it any faster than the iPad in terms of how apps ran or any smoother in terms of how videos played.


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