Motorola Xoom vs Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: Tablet showdown

Which is the better Android tablet: Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, or the Motorola Xoom?

Tablets are clearly one of the hottest tech categories in 2011, and the emerging slate market shows no sign of slowing down. Apple's iPad 2 is clearly the market leader, but there are plenty of credible alternatives. Two of the most popular are the Motorola Xoom, and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. What's all the fuss about the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and how does it compare to the Motorola Xoom?

Read our comprehensive Motorola Xoom review and our Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review, and check out our guide to the best upcoming tablets in 2011.

The Motorola Xoom was one of the first tablets to establish itself as a credible iPad alternative, while the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is thinner and lighter than the iPad 2. The Galaxy Tab has not yet launched in Australia but has already cause quite the stir: Apple has blocked it from going on sale in Australia and forced Samsung to postpone the launch event.

With this in mind, how does the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 stack up against the Motorola Xoom when it comes to specifications?

Motorola Xoom vs Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: Specifications

Feature Motorola Xoom Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Verdict?
Operating system (OS) Google Android 3.1 'Honeycomb' Google Android 3.1 'Honeycomb' Draw
Display size 10.1in 10.1in Draw
Display technology Capacitive TFT Capacitive PLS TFT Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Display resolution 1280x800 pixels 1280x800 pixels Draw
Multitouch Yes Yes Draw
Front camera 2 megapixels 2 megapixels Draw
Rear camera 5 megapixels, dual-LED flash, autofocus, geotagging 3 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging Motorola Xoom
Video recording Yes, 720p HD Yes, 720p HD Draw
GPS Yes Yes Draw
Internal memory 32GB 16GB or 32GB Draw
Expandable memory microSD None Motorola Xoom
Dimensions 260 x 177 x 13.3mm 256.7.4 x 175.3 x 8.6mm Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Weight 730g 565g Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Application store Google Android Market Google Android Market Draw
Processor NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core (1GHz) ARM Cortex A9 dual-core (1GHz) Draw
RAM 1GB 1GB Draw
3G Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G models Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G models Draw
Wi-Fi Yes Yes Draw
Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP 3.0 with A2DP Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
HDMI-out Yes No (Yes, with optional HDTV adapter) Motorola Xoom
Full sized USB port No No Draw
Quoted battery life Up to 10 hours Up to 9 hours Motorola Xoom
Adobe Flash support Yes Yes Draw

Design

The Motorola Xoom Android tablet features an attractive, industrial-looking black metal finish on the back and sides, and a front that is taken up almost entirely by the 10.1in touchscreen. The Xoom is clearly designed to be used more in landscape mode than it is in portrait, though it can be rotated using a built-in accelerometer. At 730g, the Xoom is significantly heavier, thicker and larger than the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which may be a deal-breaker for those who want to lug their tablet around with them.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is just 8.6mm thick, making it thin enough to be described by Samsung at the time of its launch as "the world's thinnest mobile tablet". That's ever so slightly thinner than the 8.8mm thick iPad 2. Although a mere 0.2mm doesn't seem like a deal breaker if you're comparing it directly to the iPad 2, the Galaxy Tab 10.1's weight of just 565g is a big deal. The lightweight design makes it easy to use single-handedly, and very comfortable to hold for long periods, unlike the Xoom.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is just 8.6mm thick, and weighs a mere 565g, making it much thinner and lighter than the Motorola Xoom.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet is constructed largely from plastic, but still manages to feel extremely well built. The materials used are of a high quality, right from the glossy black bezel surrounding the display, to the soft-feeling, rubber-style plastic that adorns the rear, and the stylish curved edges.

Display

The Motorola Xoom has a 10.1in capacitive touchscreen display with a 1280x800 resolution. For general use indoors the display produces vibrant colour, but its glossy surface makes it very tough to see in direct sunlight, and viewing angles aren't great. We also found that text wasn't as crisp or clear as we'd like — particularly when reading books, or long articles on the Web. Importantly, the Xoom's display is responsive to touch, and doesn't feel sticky when swiping.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has the same sized 10.1in display as the Xoom, and an identical resolution of 1280x800 pixels, but it uses PLS TFT touchscreen technology. Samsung says that the inclusion of PLS (Plane-line-switching) technology gives the Galaxy Tab 10.1 better viewing angles and increased brightness compared with regular IPS screens. For most part that's true, as the Galaxy Tab 10.1's screen is bright and crisp, and can be clearly seen from even the most obscure angles. Sadly, the screen can't escape a common issue with most tablets: it quickly becomes a grubby mess after use. It also has poor sunlight legibility, reflects fluorescent lighting in an office environment.

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Tags tabletsAndroid tabletsmotorola xoomSamsung Galaxy Tab 10.1Google Android Honeycomb 3.1

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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