Motorola's Xoom Family Edition Review: Not Just For The Kids

Xoom Family Edition: Not Just For The Kids

Although we have reservations about the Xoom Family Edition's start-up time, its screen quality relative to more expensive tablets, and certain aspects of its camera, there's actually a lot more we like about it. In fact, this is close to being the perfect Android-based tablet. It's comfortable to hold, relatively thin and light, and it employs a clean design. The original (and more expensive) Xoom should have been all of those things. And although Motorola slaps a Family Edition label on it, there's no reason this can't be a tablet that everyone uses.

As we demonstrated, the touted "Kid Mode" is something you can just as easily enable on any other tablet. So long as you install Zoodles via Android market, you're good to go. And the Xoom Family Edition doesn't give you any discount on the software, so that's a wash, too.

The Xoom Family Edition is only offered with 16 GB of storage space, which explains its lower price. Granted, at $359, it's only $40 cheaper than other competing 16 GB Android-based tablets like the A500, Transformer, and Thrive. However, once you factor in the preloaded software, such as Quickoffice HD, you actually get another $20 to $40 in value, which simply cannot be ignored. If you plan to use a tablet for productivity, games, and entertainment, it's all too easy to quickly drop more than a $100 bucks in additional apps.

For its ability to enable value we haven't seen yet in the tablet space, we're giving the Xoom Family Edition our Tom's Hardware Approved award. Bear in mind that this is our baseline recognition, below the Best of Tom's award (reserved for the best of the best, and almost never seen) and the Recommended Buy badge (for products that demonstrate substantial value and quality). Nevertheless, as the first tablet to receive any sort of award from us, Motorola's Xoom Family Edition fairly earns itself notoriety.

We're hoping the long charge times can be resolved through a firmware update. But we're not incredibly concerned, since this is the first Android-based tablet able to charge and sync at the same time, using the same cable. This simple (and yet important) feature was previously missing from competing models employing Google's operating system. We cannot overemphasize how much easier this makes cable management and synchronization. Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Asus' Transformer also leverage one cable for syncing and charging, though you can't do both at the same time. As a result, you naturally tend to sync data less often and charge more.

Tablet Pricing
8 GB
16 GB
32 GB
64 GB
iPad 2 (Wi-Fi)
-
$499
$599
$699
iPad 2 (AT&T 3G/Verizon 3G)
-
$629
$729
$829
Xoom (Wi-Fi)
-
-
$499
-
Xoom Family Edition (Wi-Fi)
-
$359
-
-
Iconia Tab A500 (Wi-Fi)
-
$399
$499
-
Eee Pad Transformer (Wi-Fi)
-
$399
$469
-
Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Wi-Fi)
-
$499
$599
-
Thrive (Wi-Fi)
$379
$399
$479
-


We've seen the price of Motorola's Xoom Family Edition jump back and forth between $359 and $399. In terms of value, though, you're definitely getting more here than other models deliver. For the moment, this tablet is a Best Buy-exclusive, which is somewhat of a disappointment since the Xoom Family Edition is now our favorite entry-level tablet.

Motorola's Xoom Family Edition takes the right approach in attracting attention from Apple's iPad. It's priced a lot more attractively, it's clean, and it has useful apps that come preloaded. The Xoom Family Edition makes some compromises in the process, which keeps it from competing at the top of its segment. However, it follows a simple formula that makes tablets more accessible to a wider audience. We like that.

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16 comments
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  • tanjo
    Nice value. Too bad there's no card reader... Do I hear iPad killer?
    1
  • tranfire
    @tanjo it has micro SD
    2
  • tanjo
    @transfire: Ooops sorry misssed that :p
    No Bluetooth? :(
    0
  • onanonanon
    tranfire@tanjo it has micro SD

    Yeah, but for me, one of the best uses of a tablet would be to view photos from a digital camera and yet very few models support an SD or SDHC card.
    1
  • cknobman
    Sorry but regardless of price after seeing just how piss poor the screen is (most notably extreme light bleed) and how long the charge times are I dont think the low price justifies its shortcomings.

    Heck its not uncommon to get a Transformer or A500 for $299-$349 these days which blow this tablet out of the water.
    0
  • acku
    Anonymous said:
    Sorry but regardless of price after seeing just how piss poor the screen is (most notably extreme light bleed) and how long the charge times are I dont think the low price justifies its shortcomings.

    Heck its not uncommon to get a Transformer or A500 for $299-$349 these days which blow this tablet out of the water.

    1. The Transformer also has light bleed.
    2. The 299 price is because of black Friday, cyber Monday, and holiday sales. It's definitely not "normal"
    3
  • pyrrocc
    FYI, on the front-face cam, 1.3MP 640x480... Heck 1200x900 (4:3) = ~1MP
    -3
  • pyrrocc
    Grrr... can't do standard inequality of angled brackets....

    FYI, on the front-face cam, 1.3MP does not equal 640x480... Heck 1200x900 (4:3) = ~1MP
    3
  • slabbo
    A500 can be found in practically every Costco I've been in, and for $319 including a leather case.
    -1
  • Anonymous
    The size specs on the Xoom and Xoom Family are not correct. Xoom Family is longer AND wider, not the other way around.
    0
  • acku
    Quote:
    The size specs on the Xoom and Xoom Family are not correct. Xoom Family is longer AND wider, not the other way around.


    Right and Wrong. Official specs

    SIZE (H X W X D)
    Xoom -249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9 mm
    Xoom FE - 260 x 177 x 11.4 mm

    But we still take our own measurements in the lab. Manufacturers often arbitrarily decide where to measure from. I've corrected the table to use official specs to reduce confusion.

    Anonymous said:
    A500 can be found in practically every Costco I've been in, and for $319 including a leather case.

    I go by online prices. Not by Christmas specials.

    Anonymous said:
    Grrr... can't do standard inequality of angled brackets....

    FYI, on the front-face cam, 1.3MP does not equal 640x480... Heck 1200x900 (4:3) = ~1MP



    Sensor is 1.3 MP. Native storage picture is 640x480.
    0
  • suny_hk
    pyrroccGrrr... can't do standard inequality of angled brackets....FYI, on the front-face cam, 1.3MP does not equal 640x480... Heck 1200x900 (4:3) = ~1MP


    Actually, I believe 1.3MP is the number of sensors, and each sensor only records one channel, either red, green or blue. Thus 640x480 image is about 1MP.
    0
  • Anonymous
    This tablet got so many good reviews and was selling so well that Best Buy seems to have jacked up the price to (in their view an attractive price) $499. I was trying to make up my mind if I could overlook all the short comings for the attractive price of 349, but at $499 who'd be stupid enough.
    0
  • nottheking
    Aside from the debacle over the front-facing camera (more on that below) I'd note that the specs on the iPads appear to be off: the iPad 1's RAM was, in fact, dual-channel, while the iPad 2's effective speed was 533 MHz, not 1066 MHz; the source of the latter figure appears to have been a third-party analyst's claims that weren't sourced. A check on Samsung's own page for the model of RAM used in the A5 show that the A5's model is the SLOWEST LP-DDR2 they sell, with speeds listed up to 800 MHz. Since we all know there's no such thing as DDR2-1600 (let alone a low-power version) it's safe to say that the speeds mentioned are effective, (MT/s) not actual. (true MHz)

    ackuSensor is 1.3 MP. Native storage picture is 640x480.

    I wouldn't be so quick to state that; this makes zero logical sense. As Tom's used the comparison twice without explaining it, and all other sites fail to mention a resolution, (but universally state it as "1.3 MP") it implies that either Tom's made a mistake on the resolution, or, in fact, it's not a 1.3 MP camera, in spite of readily-circulated claims.

    Occam's Razor definitely suggests something more reasonable than the other mumbo-jumbo mentioned in the comments here: I'd stake it on it being somebody's error; either Toms' mistakenly said 640x480 (twice) or everyone else has been repeating a "1.3 MP" figure that cropped up somewhere without bothering to check it.
    0
  • KelvinTy
    It seems so weird... Why would they compare a notebook processor to something like a smartphone processor? and then, SSD vs intentionally weakened version of SSD?
    Looking at the specs, you would know the battery life sucks, the processing power will be better, the graphics would be semi-decent...
    The bottom line is, they didn't do anything wrong, nor they did something brilliant, it's just a calculated solution executed correctly and pop goes this product.
    However, the cameras are to be improved ^.^" and the maybe the interface too.
    0