What’s this oddly curved box we see before us? Ah, yes, it’s Motorola’s (joint) second attempt at the Android tablet game. The Xoom 2 is another 10.1-inch widescreen Honeycomb offering, looking to make up for the lost opportunities of its predecessor — slimmer, faster and certainly packing more vertices. While we put it through its paces, we thought you’d appreciated some close-up shots with what appears to be the final retail model. First impressions? Those corners certainly do help keep it in our hands, and performance seemed suitably speedy. It’s worth noting that — at least on first impressions — Motorola hasn’t tampered excessively with the Honeycomb, something we weren’t too happy about on Moto’s Droid RAZR. We also suspect that splash-proof nanotech coating could also be acting as fingerprint magnet. Delve into the secrets of the fitted retail box, some tablet comparisons and a touching reunion with its smartphone sibling in our gallery below, or catch a brief video tour after the break.
Motorola Xoom 2 unboxing
Apparently, when Motorola was trying to figure out why its Xoom has struggled so mightily in against the iPad 2, the company didn’t focus on its high starting price or slightly heftier hardware. Instead, it decided the issue was the screen — in particular the format — and rumor has it that Moto is working on a new tablet (probably not the Xoom 2 we’ve glimpsed) that ditches the 16:9 ratio for the more square 4:3 found on Apple’s slate. Supposedly the non-widescreen device will sport an extremely pixel-dense 2048 x 1536, 10-inch display and run Ice Cream Sandwichwhen it lands later this year or early next. We’re not entirely convinced this will pan out and, honestly, we’ve always preferred the more more modern widescreen format — but, if the iPad sells with it’s old-school ratio we suppose it’s worth a shot.
You know that microSD card slot that’s been laying dormant in your Motorola Xoom? Provided you don’t reside in the US, that’ll be getting activated soon as part of the tablet’s Android 3.1 update, which is starting to roll out now and should have all of Europe covered within the next few weeks. Motorola explicitly identifies this as a firmware update for “non-US” Xooms, so Canadians would be well advised to check their software update utility, though the big question is why didn’t the American 3.1 update include microSD support as well? What tangled web of intrigue lies behind this selective activation?
Hard to say why Google chose to roll its Movies app out first to 3G-packed tablets sporting Android 3.1 (a smaller testbed, perhaps?), but it looks as if it won’t matter for much longer. We’ve received a number of tips this evening suggesting that Google Movies can now be downloaded from the Android Market by WiFi-only Xoom tablets, though some are seeing a litany of server errors when trying to actually use the service. That said, we didn’t see any issues here at Engadget HQ, so it’s possible that a few kinks are still being worked out on select servers. Give it a whirl and let us know how it turns out in comments below, and if you’re a proud owner of a Galaxy Tab 10.1… well, we guess you’re also the proud owner of a trait called “patience.”
It’s not often that we get the opportunity to mention the Financial Times and Playboy Magazine in the same sentence, but the two publications do have at least one thing in common: App Store aversion. Today, the FT launched a new, entirely web-based app, designed to circumvent iTunes (and Apple’s 30 percent revenue cut) altogether. The paper says its single, cross-platform app will allow it to issue updates with more frequency, while reaching an audience that extends far beyond the iOS realm. Though the subscription service is only available for iPhone and iPad users at the moment, versions catered for Galaxy Tab, Xoom and PlayBook users are coming soon. Perhaps more important, however, is what this move could mean for other publishers — many of whom haven’t taken too kindly to Apple’s subscription revenue and data-sharing practices. FT Managing editor Rob Grimshaw says his paper has “no plans to pull out of any apps store,” but if the system proves viable, it could open the door for others to pursue their own, similarly HTML5-based ventures, in the hopes of retaining full revenues and access to subscriber information. We’ll have to wait and see whether this iTunes exodus ever materializes, but in the meantime, iOS users can hit the source link to enjoy the new app, available for free until July 14th. Others, meanwhile, can head past the break to see a demo video, narrated in appropriately dulcet, British tones.
Motorola’s just finished giving the news and the numbers on its quarterly financial report, and there was one bit of badness that we just had to share: the Xoom LTE upgrade has been delayed. We won’t be seeing it until summer according to Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha, which is also when we’ll be seeing the Bionic, a delay that we were already sulking about. Jha was a little vague about what the “issue” was that is causing the delay, only that whatever quality concern there is applies to both devices, and it could simply be that the company is waiting for its LTE rollout to get a little further along. Net result: one less G for Xoom owners until the summer, and no Bionic at all until then. Bummer.
In terms of the numbers: Motorola says that it shipped over 250,000 Xooms in the first quarter of the year, and managed net revenues of $3 billion. That’s up 22 percent from this time last year, which brought losses down to $.27 per share — much nicer than the $.72 in Q1 2010. Mobile device revenues were up 30 percent and 9.1 million total mobile devices were sold, of those almost half (4.1 million) were smartphones.
Web browser maker Opera is staying busy, unleashing several new versions of its product upon the populace today. Both of its on the go browsers have been updated with modern technology like pinch-to-zoom, sharing to other apps, improved scrolling and new tablet-friendly interfaces, while its also ready to show off a new version for set-top boxes and updating tools to help developers create apps for Opera-powered TVs. In case you need a scorecard, Opera Mini 6 (available for J2ME, Android, Blackberry, Symbian/S60) compresses pages before downloading them and Opera Mobile 11 (for Android, Symbian, Windows 7, MeeGo, Maemo) promises the entire web for those on high speed connections like WiFi, explaining the platform crossover. Peep the demo above or press releases after the break if you’re still not sure what pinch-to-zoom means in or just point your mobile browser to m.opera.com and download the latest version for your device — iOS need not apply at this time.
Sanjay Jha and various leaks already told us as much, but here’s the official word: the WiFi-only Motorola Xoom is launching on March 27th for $599. Retail availability will be truly widespread, with Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, RadioShack, Sam’s Club, Staples and Walmart all offering up the Honeycomb tablet. Other than the omission of the 3G and 4G radios of the original Xoom, you’re basically looking at an identical hardware package. That includes a 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 5 megapixel autofocus camera, and a 10.1-inch display with 1280 x 800 resolution.
Verizon waives Xoom and Galaxy Tab activation fees on contracts from March 1st in a limited time offer
In an unforeseen act of generosity, Verizon has decided to scrap the $35 activation fee it charges with purchases of the 3G-equipped Motorola Xoom and Galaxy Tab tablets, leaving customers’ wallets a little heavier and hearts a little lighter. This change will be effective on month-to-month contracts starting from the first of this month or later — meaning a nice little refund for anyone acquiring an Android tablet through Big Red after March 1st — however we’re also hearing it’ll be a limited time offer. The intel has been communicated via email to Mobile Burn, and Droid-Life has also obtained a document saying as much, while we’re in the process of confirming it ourselves. All the same, it looks safe to get the (modest) celebrations going.
March 18th may seem like an eternity if you expected your Motorola Xoom to come with Adobe Flash on day one. But you know what? If you put your trust in a mysterious file floating about the internet, there’s no need to wait that long. MyDroidWorld obtained possession of a leaked build of Adobe Flash Player 10.2 for the Xoom, which doesn’t need root or even a preliminary update to install — you just need to check the “Unknown sources” box under Settings > Applications, sideload the file or download it from the Xoom’s browser and you’re good to go. The best part? Based on our preliminary testing, Flash performs exceedingly well on the Xoom’s dual-core Tegra 2 processor.
iPad 2 specs discerned, 900MHz dual-core ARM Cortex A9 and PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU blow away graphical benchmarks
iFixit may have physically uncovered Apple’s latest silicon, but it’s the processor gurus that have discovered what’s truly inside — using software benchmarks, they’ve unearthed the speeds and feeds of the Apple A5. As you’ll no doubt be aware having read our headline above, there actually isn’t a 1GHz CPU at the helm, as AnandTech and IOSnoops report the dual-core ARM Cortex A9 is dynamically clocked around 900MHz, likely in search of reduced power consumption. Perhaps more interestingly for all you gamers in the audience, the iPad 2 reports that it has a dual-core PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU on the die as originally foretold — and, spoiler alert — it mops the floor with both the original iPad and the Motorola Xoom. Though the new chip didn’t quite demonstrate 9X the graphical prowess of its predecessor, it rendered 57.6 frames per second in a GLBenchmark test where the (admittedly higher-res) Tegra 2 tablet managed only 26.7fps, and last year’s iPad pulled only 17.6fps. That’s some serious Tai Chi. Hit up our source links to see the difference it can make in games like Infinity Blade.
In the spirit of issuing software updates with the sole purpose of preparing for more software updates, Motorola says there’s about to be some brand new firmware for the Xoom, which will cross the Ts and dot the Is required to install the promised Adobe Flash Player 10.2. The company doesn’t say when, exactly, to expect Flash, only that it’s “coming soon,” but the update will also fix a bug with Daylight Savings Time, which — given recent history — should find itself richly welcomed. If you’re paying Verizon for 3G bandwidth, you can expect an OTA update in the days to come.
You might have seen Motorola’s WiFi-only Xoom popping up at European e-tailers, but it’s reportedly flying the red, white and blue today, having materialized at Sam’s Club in the good ol’ USA. Droid-Life stumbled upon several snapshots of these Xoom Wi-Fi vouchers, with a $539 price tag hanging above their heads — plenty cheaper than a cellular Xoom, and also slightly more affordable than a similarly specced iPad 2. Of course, Sam’s Club deals in wholesale merchandise, and even should this price be accurate the tablet may not be widely available at the same rate, so don’t count out $599 as the Xoom Wi-Fi’s MSRP. Meanwhile, let us know if you manage to find and ring one up at the register, eh?
You might recall we ran this comparison about a month back when HP’s TouchPad was announced, but now we’re back with a full set of 2011 devices as Apple’s brand new iPad 2 has joined the fray. There’s no need for excessive introductions, really, just leap past the break to get swalloped up by an avalanche of next-generation tablet specs.