Motorola Xyboard 10.1 Review

If you want a solid Android tablet that competes with the iPad on weight and thickness, plus 4G LTE connectivity, the Motorola Xyboard 10.1 is probably your best bet.
If you want a solid Android tablet that competes with the iPad on weight and thickness, plus 4G LTE connectivity, the Motorola Xyboard 10.1 is probably your best bet.
If you want a solid Android tablet that competes with the iPad on weight and thickness, plus 4G LTE connectivity, the Motorola Xyboard 10.1 is probably your best bet.

Highs

  • Thin and lightweight
  • Ergonomic design
  • 4G LTE connectivity
  • Decent battery life

Lows

  • $500 is a lot for an Android tablet
  • Specs are decent but not impressive
  • No microSD or external storage
  • Camera sucks
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Included apps

Motorola has included a few enterprise-like apps such as Polycom (video conferencing), Quickoffice, a task manager, and GoTo Meeting, but these are mixed in with other preloaded apps that are just the opposite: Netflix, Blockbuster, Let’s Golf 2, Madden NFL 12, Slingbox, and Skitch, a girly drawing app. We’re guessing Verizon had most of these apps added, but they are an odd mix.

motorola-xyboard-10.1-netflix

Motorola has launched its own app store as well, called MotoPack. Luckily this store re-routes you back to the Android market for actual purchases. If it didn’t, things would get confusing.

Finally, the Xyboard, like a lot of newer devices, can be bought with a capacitive stylus. There isn’t much software available for the stylus, but a note-taking app has been built into the operating system. By tapping on a note icon in the lower right, you can open up a movable notepad. We had no issue with this feature except for one thing: It’s impossible to shut down. There is no way to end it unless you hit the back button. Even then, it will remain in the background. It would be nice to be able to shut off or disable this feature for those who don’t want it or tire of taking notes. The back button should not be a catch all for lazy developers. Still, for those who want to use a stylus, the software is decent enough.

Specs and screen

Internally, the Xyboard is almost identical to every first-generation Android tablet, including the original Xoom. It runs on a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. All the normal sensors and special features are present: GPS, accelerometer, digital compass, barometer, etc. There is no microSD, sadly.

motorola-xyboard-10.1-galaxy-tab-xoom

We ran a Quadrant benchmarking test and the Xyboard scored an impressive 2,800, outpowering the Galaxy Tab 7.0 and 8.9, which each scored between 2,000 and 2,500. For reference, an original Motorola Droid would score about 300 to 400 in a Quadrant test.

The front and rear cameras are present and take pictures and 1080p video, but these are not impressive. We did limited testing of the Xyboard’s rear camera in dim, macro, outdoor, and indoor environments, and found it to be rather crappy at almost everything. Pictures were washed out and grainy. The shutter speed is quite slow. Much like most Motorola devices, this will take pictures in a pinch, but don’t buy the Xyboard if camera quality is your number one concern.

motorola-xyboard-10.1-galaxy-nexus

We cannot decide if the screen is an improvement over the Xoom. It has the same 1280 x 800 resolution that most Android tablets (and high-end Android smartphones) have, and the screen uses IPS LCD technology, which looks good, but isn’t as impressive as it was a year ago. After using a Galaxy Nexus (which packs just as many pixels into a 4.6-inch display), it’s hard not to notice how big the pixels are here. It will be nice when Apple and the rest of the industry double the resolution of these tablets in the next few months.

Verizon data speeds

We tested the 4G LTE Verizon version of the Xyboard, though there is a Wi-Fi-only version available. In Manhattan, New York, we attained speeds that were somewhat atypical of Verizon’s network. We averaged about 2 to 5Mbps down and 0.5 to 1Mbps up. We tested out the same network in the same location at the same time with a Galaxy Nexus and achieved higher download speeds (5 to 6Mbps) and upload speeds (2 to 5Mbps). Both results are slower than our Manhattan tests in December with the Galaxy Nexus and other devices.

Battery life

It’s good. We have not performed a full battery rundown test, but the device can keep a charge on idle for at least a week and appears to get about 8 to 10 hours of life when used extensively. Obviously, if you spend your days streaming Netflix over 4G LTE, then the battery will drain faster than it will for someone who just browses the Web or plays with some apps every day. Overall, the Xyboard is in line with comparative devices, if not a bit ahead. Good battery life on this one.

Conclusion

The Motorola Xyboard 10.1 is a decent device, if a bit after its time. Though one of the chief reasons the original Xoom didn’t sell well was its $600 to $700 price, Motorola hasn’t lowered the bar much. A 16GB Wi-Fi Xyboard will run you $500, with an LTE version costing $530. This pricing is in line with the Apple iPad 2, but far more expensive than most Android tablets these days, which are now priced between $200 and $400 by most manufacturers.

Still, if you want a solid Android tablet that competes with the iPad on weight and thickness, plus 4G LTE connectivity, this is probably your best bet, unless you’re in one of the few markets served by AT&T’s blossoming LTE network (go for the Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE in that case). It’s constructed well, has standard specs, and it should be getting an Android 4.0 update soon. If you have the money, the Xyboard is a good buy.

Highs:

  • Thin and lightweight
  • Ergonomic design
  • 4G LTE connectivity
  • Decent battery life

 Lows:

  • $500 is a lot for an Android tablet
  • Specs are decent but not impressive
  • No microSD or external storage
  • Camera sucks

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