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HDMI output And Camera Quality

Motorola Xoom: The First Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) Tablet
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HDMI output

Left to Right: USB, HDMI, PowerLeft to Right: USB, HDMI, Power

Tablets like the Xoom could really benefit from a mature wireless display technology, but that seems to be years away. In the meantime, you're forced to use a cable.

Motorola sticks with industry standards, as the Xoom offers HDMI output, in addition to connectors for charging and data transfer. But cable management is consequently a bit of a mess. On the one hand, Apple's proprietary connector offers a much cleaner setup, but nobody enjoys spending $40 for a special cable to enable video output.

Output results are better than what we saw from the iPad 2. TVs and monitors supporting native 1080p display the tablet's screen as a 1280x800 upscaled image that fills the entire display. The Xoom locks itself in landscape mode while you're connected, so there's no reason to worry about orientation.

Google can and should refine the experience a little bit more. When you're typing, the Android keyboard is automatically cloned onto the external display. Ideally, it should only appear on the Xoom or at least expose that option. A resolution of 1280x800 doesn't facilitate much work space, so every little bit counts. The company would be better off disabling the keyboard overlay on the external monitor.

Playing video over HDMI has a few quirks. The aspect ratio seen on the Xoom is always preserved on the secondary screen. However, the image is mirrored on both displays. The iPad 2 only outputs video to the external monitor, which makes sense. If you're going to go through the trouble of hooking up another screen to watch a movie, you don't need to see that image on the tablet's smaller display. We'd like to see this addressed, if only to see battery life preserved and command-response improved. There is one other oddity. I'm not sure if it is the fault of Motorola or Android, but the multitasking switcher isn't mirrored when you're playing video.

Camera Quality

Rear-Facing 5.0 MP Camera: Indoors w/ FlashRear-Facing 5.0 MP Camera: Indoors w/ FlashRear-Facing 5.0 MP Camera: Indoors w/ FlashRear-Facing 5.0 MP Camera: Indoors w/ FlashFront-Facing 2.0 MP Camera: OutdoorsFront-Facing 2.0 MP Camera: Outdoors

The Xoom has a clear lead when it comes to camera quality. But a lack of software means the camera isn't as useful. When Apple announced it was adding cameras to the iPad 2, anyone with an iPhone 4 saw FaceTime support on the horizon, which of course came to pass. However, you can use the cameras on the iPad 2 with other apps. Skype actually supports video calling on the iPad 2.

The same can't be said for Honeycomb. The latest version of Skype for Android (1.0.0.983) doesn't support video calls. So, as a practical matter, you can't really do much with the front-facing camera on Motorola's Xoom until Skype adds support.

Rear-Facing 2.0 MP Camera: OutdoorsRear-Facing 2.0 MP Camera: OutdoorsRear-Facing 2.0 MP Camera: OutdoorsRear-Facing 2.0 MP Camera: OutdoorsRear-Facing 2.0 MP Camera: OutdoorsRear-Facing 2.0 MP Camera: Outdoors

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