Motorola Xoom first impressions, Android fires up tablet wars

by Kristen Nicole

The Motorola (MMI) Xoom, the first Android device to run the tablet-specific Honeycomb 3.0, has officially become available in stores, kick-starting the next battle in the tablet war. First impressions are on the positive side, but the question of whether or not the Xoom will be a true contender for the iPad remains to be seen. The Wall Street Journal’s Walter S. Mossberg shares his thoughts, saying “I believe the Xoom beats the first-generation iPad in certain respects, though it lags in others.” Mossberg goes on to list the comparables, like screen size and optimized OS, but highlights the fact that the iPad 2 is being prepared for its debut.

With expectations running high, there’s bound to be some shortcomings of the Xoom. Melissa J. Perenson of PCWorld applauds the Xoom’s overall style and hardware, but points out some very noticable issues with image rendering. “Even worse, the included Gallery app didn't render the images properly,” Penerson writes. “Images lacked sharpness and suffered from artifacting, dithering, and macroblocking. It was almost as though I were looking at images that had undergone a preview render but never fully rendered.”

Blooming love for Android OS

Apple’s (AAPL) iPad still rules the tablet market in many ways, but Google’s (GOOG) OS improvements have maintained manufacturer interest in Android devices. NTT DoCoMo has launched a slick Android smartphone, reportedly the thinnest on the market. The NEC Medias N-04C measures 8 millimeters in thickness, trumping Samsung’s (005930.KS) Galaxy S and Sony Ericsson’s (SNE) Xperia Arc by a millimeter. It’s a marketing move to lure consumers, who are faced with an array of choices in the Android lineup.

Developers are looking forward to Android’s sprawl. Publishers are particularly interested in Android tablets, like the Xoom, for their enlarged screen real estate and mobility. Rupert Murdoch, who launched The Daily in partnership with Apple, might now be looking to extend digital distribution to Android’s platform as well. According to an anonymous tip at All Things D, the News Corp-owned (NWS) publication will be headed to Android this spring.