xoom

So where does this leave the Xoom? Overall, the device is a joy to use -- fast and nimble, able to handle high-res media files, long-lasting.

We strongly prefer the Android 3.0 e-mail interface to what you get on other Android devices -- it makes the tablet a more useful e-mail client. Like the Atrix phone, you can even sync with Microsoft Exchange e-mail and Google Apps for Business, Yahoo! and Gmail services, and any POP account.

We liked:

The browser is a godsend for technical users - you can queue up a dozen tabs and leave them available at all times (strangely, you can only set one page as the default home page and not multiple tabs).

What this means for power users is that you can really use the Xoom as a powerful Web client, especially if you use the optional Bluetooth keyboard. (The Xoom also works with the Apple Wireless Keyboard.)

The built-in camera also worked well, producing some winning shots. Games played smoother than expected. Several apps, such as Google Sky Map and the Gallery app, take full use of the larger screen size of a tablet.

We disliked:

Not everything is so stellar about the Xoom, though. We didn't like that you can't trickle charge from any USB port. Lack of Flash support is a major letdown, even though Motorola plans to fix this issue soon. There is no way to buy or rent movies or TV shows, which means you have to obtain them on a PC and transfer them over. The form factor of the Xoom is a little odd because it is rectangular and slick, and a little harder to grasp when you are running out the door.

Currently, the low number of apps is the most critical ding. In some ways, the tabbed browser makes up for this -- you can run a plethora of Web apps instead. But the iPad has a major headstart over any Android 3.0 tabs.

And there are a few other nits. The microSD slot on the Xoom does not work yet, and the device could work with 4G but is not ready for that yet.

Verdict:

Yet, we've been craving this kind of fast and powerful, ready-for-the-tablet age device.

Hoping the apps appear quickly, the Xoom is fast enough to keep pace and gets our nod over other Android tablets. The iPad is still the better tablet and has thousands of useful, powerful apps that make it more appealing.