Tablet deathmatch: Motorola Xoom vs. Apple iPad
As Apple prepares to ship its iPad 2, the first viable Android competitor packs a punchFollow @MobileGalen
Both the iPad and the Xoom have capable Contacts apps, but it's easier to navigate through your entries on the iPad. You can jump to names by tapping a letter, such as "T" to get to people whose last names begin with "T," or search quickly for someone in the Search field by tapping part of the name. On the Xoom, a blue box appears to the side of the contacts list as you begin scrolling, and if you drag it, you can scroll through the letters of the alphabet to find the contact you seek. It's not as simple as the iPad approach, and its "secret handshake" nature means many users won't know it exists.
On the iPad, to search your contacts, drag up above the first contact to reveal the Search box. On the Xoom, you can search your contacts if you click the Search button. You can also designate users as favorites, to put them in a shorter Favorites list. The iPad has no similar favorites capability.
The iPad supports email groups, but you can't create them on the iPad; they must be synced from your computer's contacts application. And you can't pick a group in the iPad's Mail address fields. Instead, you select a group, then open it up to select just one member, repeating this step to add more names. It's a really dumb approach to groups. The Xoom both supports groups and lets you create them, though the process is unintuitive: When you add or edit a contact, there's a field in which you can select or create a group. You can't start by creating a group and then adding contacts to it; instead you have to go to each contact in turn. Also, the groups capability is not available for Exchange-based contacts. And you can't send email to groups, so it's not a feature that has much value.
The winner: The iPad, thanks to its more capable email and calendar capabilities. The Xoom's lack of email search and its awkward folder handling are surprising flaws that should not exist.
The native apps are comparable on the two devices, providing email, contacts, calendar, maps and navigation, browser, a music player, a YouTube player, a notepad app, and SMS messaging. (The Xoom provides a third-party notes app, filling a hole in the standard Android app suite.)
But the Xoom also includes the standard (still beta) Android Navigation app, which speaks directions as you navigate, as well as provides an on-screen live map and written step-by-step directions. The iPad's Maps app has comparable on-screen navigation capabilities but does not speak them as you drive. The Xoom comes with several apps not found on the iPad, including the Calculator and two apps that take advantage of the Xoom's camera: Camera and Movie Maker. (The iPad doesn't have a camera, though the forthcoming iPad 2 will.) Neither tablet has apps for weather or social networking, though the Xoom comes with the Google Talk instant messaging app.
Neither device supports Flash Player, though Adobe continues to promise it for the Xoom "in a few weeks." There of course won't be a Flash Player for the iPad due to Apple's prohibition.