Yesterday, Apple showed off its fancy new iPad 2. The unit has quite a few new features and upgrades, but how does it stack up against the newly released Motorola Xoom in all the ways that count? Well, we’ve got the answers for you. We’ve compared the two units in a few ways, dueling them in sexiness, screen quality, processing power, camera quality, software availability, accessories, and price. If you’re in the market for a new tablet, look no further. We’re here to give you an idea of what each tablet brings to the table. Enjoy!
Winner: iPad 2
It’s hardly fair to start out with looks, because even if you hate Apple, you have to admit that the company definitely has hardware design down pat. Few products look as good as Apple’s minimalist designs. The iPad 2 takes the great features of the iPad and smooths them over. With a flatter and beveled back, alternate white color scheme, rounded front border, and a thickness of only 8.8mm (thinner than the iPhone 4), we can’t help but get excited looking at Apple’s new tablet.
Still, though we give the edge to Apple, the Xoom is not hard on the eyes. The unit is fairly thin at 12.7mm, which almost the exact thickness of the original iPad. In addition, the lack of a big home button on the Xoom means the unit can more easily be used in any orientation imagineable. No matter how you hold a Xoom, it will reorient itself and its in-screen homescreen buttons will pop into the lower left of the screen. Apple has won this round, but many will like the blacker, more industrial look and feel of the Xoom. Good job, Motorola.
The iPad 2 features a 1GHz dual-core A5 processor, and the Xoom has a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. For all intents and purposes, both units match the current trend of 1GHz dual-core processors. They both pack some power. However, both units have some advantages. The iPad’s advantage is its separate PowerVR SGX543MP2 graphics processor (GPU), which appears to run circles around the Xoom’s dual CPU/GPU Tegra 2. Performance tests by Anandtech show significantly greater graphics performance on the iPad 2. In some tests, the iPad 2 nearly doubled or tripled the Xoom’s graphics performance.
Still, the Xoom’s 1GB of Random Access Memory (on-the-fly memory) is double that of Apple’s tablet. In many situations, this RAM may not be noticeable, but for things like video editing and multitasking the added RAM will come in handy.
When it comes to actual storage, Apple sells iPad 2 units with 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB of storage included. Xoom owners will have to accept 32GB of storage out of the box. There is a MicroSD card slot on the device, which could support memory cards up to 32GB, but Motorola has not enabled the slot yet. An upcoming software update should allow SD card use on the Xoom.
Apple made a lot of improvements in the iPad 2, but the screen was left entirely untouched. The iPad 2 features the same LED backlit 9.7-inch screen with a resolution of 1024 x 768. Unlike most modern laptops and TVs, Apple continues to stick with a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning its screen is a lot more squared (like a sheet of office paper) than the Motorola Xoom. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it is uniquely Apple at this point.
The Xoom has a ratio very close to 16:9, the standard for widescreens today (the Xoom is WXGA, techies). Thanks to its slightly larger size of 10.1 inches, the Xoom also boosts a higher pixel count at 1280 x 800 pixels. In terms of total brightness, the iPad 2 probably edges out Xoom by a small margin, but Xoom’s aspect ratio is better for watching HD-widescreen content. What can we say, we like wide screens and here the Xoom wins out.
Both the iPad 2 and Xoom feature front-facing webcams and more powerful rear cameras. However, Apple did not list the specifics of its cameras on its website, which likely means that they don’t stack up as well as other features. From what we can extrapolate, Motorola has a better front and rear camera. The iPad 2 appears to have a VGA-quality (640 x 480) front-facing camera, while the Xoom has a more competitive 2-megapixel cam. The only statistic Apple has released about the rear camera is that it can record 720p video, meaning it might be as little as a 1.3MP camera. This seems anemically weak and we’re hoping it’s better, but with a solid 5-megapixel rear camera, autofocus, and a dual-LED flash (the iPad 2 has no flash), we have to hand this category to the Xoom.
With that said, we’re still not sure exactly how much users will need a rear camera on their tablets. A front-facing webcam is useful, but can you imagine a lot of scenarios where a really good rear camera (with flash) will be vital? Judge the importance for yourself, but either way, Motorola wins.