Motorola Xoom: The First Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) Tablet

Honeycomb: App Store, Data Transfer, And Screenshots

App Store And Installation

There are three ways to install a program in Honeycomb.

  1. Search and install from the Market app (similar to App Store in iOS)
  2. Android apps use the APK file extension to package programs for installation. You can use AppInstaller to install APK files located on your memory card.
  3. If the app is located on a Web site, you can directly execute the APK file by downloading the file.

This is slightly different from iOS, because there's really no way to synchronize with your desktop using the Xoom. Apps directly installed from a Web site aren’t tracked. So, if you buy a new tablet, you have to reinstall those programs manually. Apps that you do buy from the Android Market are associated with your Google account. These are the only programs that will install automatically when you set up a new tablet with the same account.

While the installation process is a bit clumsy, my biggest complaint is the limited number of apps. No tablet platform can truly succeed without third-party app support. That’s something Apple enjoys in excess.

This is made more complicated because there’s no way to search for Honeycomb-specific apps within the Android Market. If you look at the Featured Android Apps For Tablets page, you’ll find that most of them are simply upconverted for a larger screen.

Data Transfer 

Windows 7 CompatibilityWindows 7 Compatibility

Unlike iTunes, there isn't a central hub to install programs and transfer data. With that said, Android is more Windows-friendly. There’s no need to install special drivers. Just connect a USB cable and you’re ready to transfer files. Windows 7 should automatically register any Android tablet as a compatible portable device. It’s that simple.

Mac OS X CompatibilityMac OS X Compatibility

Android compatibility is a bit more complicated for Mac owners. There's no native support, and you need to install Android File Transfer. But you can't just drag and drop files like you can with a USB drive. Android File Transfer (AFT) works more like a Finder window within a program.

Screenshots

Enable USB debuggingEnable USB debugging

Getting a screenshot in Honeycomb is vastly more complicated than iOS. With my iPad, I only have to press the Home and power button at the same time. iTunes automatically synchronizes pictures, so sharing pictures is as fast as docking the iPad. With Honeycomb-based tablets, you have to:

  1. Enable USB debugging in Honeycomb.
  2. Install the Android SDK
  3. Run the Android SDK and install libraries.
  4. Run the ddms.bat file in the installation directory
  5. Select the” Screen capture” under the Device menu in Dalvik Debug Monitor.

Windows 7: Open ddms.batWindows 7: Open ddms.bat

Getting a Android Screenshot in Windows 7Getting a Android Screenshot in Windows 7

Google definitely needs to simplify this because it isn’t just a problem with Xoom; it applies to every Android-based device. When I’m browsing on the iPad, I have the ability to take a screenshot and immediately email it to colleagues if I need to share information. We don't necessarily have to have this feature, but it bothers me to know I’m missing out on something to which iPad owners have easy access.

Installing Android SDK in OS XInstalling Android SDK in OS X

If you have a Mac, you no longer need Parallels, Fusion, or Boot Camp to download your pictures. Google recently released the Android SDK for OS X, and the process is the same as it is in Windows. The only difference is that you need to first run android.exec in order to download SDK libraries (in the Tools folder under the Android directory). After that, opening the Dalvik Debug Monitor is as simple as running ddms.exec (also in the Tools folder).

Mac OS X: Opening ddms (just left click on ddms file)Mac OS X: Opening ddms (just left click on ddms file)

Getting a Android Screenshot in OS XGetting a Android Screenshot in OS X

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53 comments
    Your comment
  • dragonsqrrl
    Very impressive review, especially the display quality page. A lot of in-depth information.
    4
  • joytech22
    Excellent! Covered everything I was interested in when comparing the iPad 2 to the Xoom.
    3
  • tramit
    Excellent review. I also agree that the excuse of Android coming later in the game does not mean it cannot have the same growth in apps in the same alotted time frame that it was released.

    I personally feel that the iPad is a better device for gaming just by going through the app store and being able to find games ranging from Monopoly to FF3 and Infinity Blade. I have a Nexus S right now and the list of attractive games is not as long.

    I like having both devices however. I plan to stay the course with continuing to purchase Android Nexus phones and having Apple supply me with their iPad. I get to enjoy the best of both worlds and not narrow my enjoyment of tech like most Droid and Apple fanboys.
    4
  • Maziar
    Excellent review.
    I'm impressed with the honeycomb but I think it has 2 major drawbacks
    1)UI is somehow laggy and not 100% smooth
    2)Lack of apps.
    If these 2 issues get fixed,then we're going to see a better competition
    3
  • fstrthnu
    A little late, but very good quality review. Very nice to see custom benchmarks, it really shows you guys put in the effort here.

    I'd probably go for a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, but that's just me.
    1
  • Anonymous
    Seems HD video playback was not tested. Nice to have a HDMI option, but not really useful if most HD movies cannot play smoothly as is the case with the XOOM.

    Also, and probably related to the slow video, Tegra 2's CPU has no NEON extensions, limiting applications that use signal processing.

    Yes, I do own a XOOM (also iPad 2 by the way)
    0
  • acku
    Quote:
    Seems HD video playback was not tested. Nice to have a HDMI option, but not really useful if most HD movies cannot play smoothly as is the case with the XOOM.

    Also, and probably related to the slow video, Tegra 2's CPU has no NEON extensions, limiting applications that use signal processing.

    Yes, I do own a XOOM (also iPad 2 by the way)



    Check out page 13. We tested H.264 battery life using a ripped 1280x720 Blu-ray movie.

    On page 12, we also show HD playblack when you're mirroring the display.

    @Everyone else. Thanks for the comments guys. If there's anything else you guy want to see in future reviews please let us know.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    1
  • house70
    Took quite a while to get this review done. Other tablets are already available that sport Honeycomb. Not to mention they are better than both contenders described in this article. I have a Transformer and no matter what I throw at it, it does it well. A review of that would be nice (maybe in another year or so...).
    Good effort, but as others have said, late to the table.
    -2
  • house70
    What the reviewer perceives as weaknesses, others perceive as strength. Example: the apps installation process. Not having to deal with iTunes is a bonus in itself, and having the option to make your own backups using whatever application you prefer is also a plus. The reviewer got a bit carried away by his personal bias towards iTunes/iOS environment. There are people that prefer to be led by hand while operating their tablet and there are others that prefer to pick and choose their options without limitations. It's a matter of personal preference. But this should not transpire into an objective review. Other than that, not too bad.
    -2
  • Anonymous
    Wow - I couldn't disagree more with some of your views. Obviously you love you some Apple... I'm not an Apple hater - I have a Macbook Pro, I have an iPad, and I have a Xoom. I tell everyone the Xoom is 5X the tables the iPad is (Granted it's an iPad, not an iPad2 - but my beef with iPads are how much Apple controls what you can or can't do with it - that has not changed in the new generation of iPads). The iPad I can use as a toy, or as a cool media gadget - I actually basically gave it to my 6 year old son now bc that's all I can do with it. The Xoom I can use as so much more - it is was more useful on so many levels. Yes rendering takes a bit longer when you flip th screen, yes there are a few small quirks in it's behavior occasionally, but from an overall usefulness point of view I like it TONS betters than the iPad. Widgets - MultiTasking - OpenSource app development with an App store NOT controlled by Apple. Android IS the future for tablets. Apple needs to take note - they are just lucky at this point bc of their following, but Android will leave them in the dust. MS isn't even in the game and won't be even when Windows 8 hits. And you price comparison is off too IMO. $599 (now $499) for 32MB on the Xoom was in line (and is now better) than Apple's price point. Take it a step further and look the the Asus Eee Pad Transformer (very similar to Xoom with some things done even better) at $399. Android is taking hold, and will gain on Apple quickly, and eventually blow them away.
    -1
  • acku
    house70Took quite a while to get this review done. Other tablets are already available that sport Honeycomb. Not to mention they are better than both contenders described in this article. I have a Transformer and no matter what I throw at it, it does it well. A review of that would be nice (maybe in another year or so...).Good effort, but as others have said, late to the table.


    I'll take that shot. Understand that we just started in with tablets. So we're playing catch up, but we're not purposely reviewing tablets late.

    That said, I don't think it's necessary to be snarky about it.

    Anonymous said:
    What the reviewer perceives as weaknesses, others perceive as strength. Example: the apps installation process. Not having to deal with iTunes is a bonus in itself, and having the option to make your own backups using whatever application you prefer is also a plus. The reviewer got a bit carried away by his personal bias towards iTunes/iOS environment. There are people that prefer to be led by hand while operating their tablet and there are others that prefer to pick and choose their options without limitations. It's a matter of personal preference. But this should not transpire into an objective review. Other than that, not too bad.


    I'll agree that we can disagree. But I don't think that makes my concerns any less valid. And it's true that many people don't care for that hand holding experience, but again, that is why I called the iPad a Wii and the Xoom a PS3.

    I'm speaking from experience as an Android AND iOS developer. The hoops that you have to jump through for the Apple App store are infuriating. But if you're a tablet user, you don't care that said developer had to wrack his brain dealing with Apple. You just want to know apps are available. No tablet platform can truly succeed without third-party application support. This is a reality that everyone has to face. It's also a reason that Apple still struggles in the notebook and desktop market with OS X. There are more programs for Windows that you can't run on Mac. Until this changes, the playing field is going to be uneven.
    4
  • acku
    WebologyWORXWow - I couldn't disagree more with some of your views. Obviously you love you some Apple... I'm not an Apple hater - I have a Macbook Pro, I have an iPad, and I have a Xoom. I tell everyone the Xoom is 5X the tables the iPad is (Granted it's an iPad, not an iPad2 - but my beef with iPads are how much Apple controls what you can or can't do with it - that has not changed in the new generation of iPads). The iPad I can use as a toy, or as a cool media gadget - I actually basically gave it to my 6 year old son now bc that's all I can do with it. The Xoom I can use as so much more - it is was more useful on so many levels. Yes rendering takes a bit longer when you flip th screen, yes there are a few small quirks in it's behavior occasionally, but from an overall usefulness point of view I like it TONS betters than the iPad. Widgets - MultiTasking - OpenSource app development with an App store NOT controlled by Apple. Android IS the future for tablets. Apple needs to take note - they are just lucky at this point bc of their following, but Android will leave them in the dust. MS isn't even in the game and won't be even when Windows 8 hits. And you price comparison is off too IMO. $599 (now $499) for 32MB on the Xoom was in line (and is now better) than Apple's price point. Take it a step further and look the the Asus Eee Pad Transformer (very similar to Xoom with some things done even better) at $399. Android is taking hold, and will gain on Apple quickly, and eventually blow them away.


    Everyone who criticizes Apple for some reason feels the need to say they own an Apple product, as if that somehow means something. It doesn't really matter what you own. Anyone can have a valid opinion.

    I understand your view, I just disagree with it. The idea that open source dominates doesn't jive with what every computer user experiences. Look at Linux. If open source was simply the issue, Ubuntu should kill Windows and OS X within the next few years. That's simply not the case.

    I'm an Android and iOS developer. In fact I have to program in both because some of the benchmarks we use are custom coded. As a reader, though, most people could care less how much effort I put into a program. They just want to look at the results. No tablet platform can truly succeed without third-party application support. This is a reality that everyone has to face. It's also a reason that Apple still struggles in the notebook and desktop market with OS X. There are more programs for Windows that you can't run on Mac. Until this changes, the playing field is going to be uneven.


    And on that note, if the Xoom was all that and a bag of chips, Motorola wouldn't admit it's struggling with sales and drop the price.
    5
  • Onus
    For the same amount of money, I can get a Brazos-based notebook with superior performance, more applications, a real keyboard, expandability, full interoperability with my PC, and the only thing I'll give up is some battery life (but apparently not all that much); oh, and an extra camera.

    I just don't see a tablet in my future.
    0
  • lamorpa
    jtt283For the same amount of money, I can get a Brazos-based notebook with superior performance, more applications, a real keyboard, expandability, full interoperability with my PC, and the only thing I'll give up is some battery life (but apparently not all that much); oh, and an extra camera. I just don't see a tablet in my future.

    You'll also have to give up not having a keyboard and display stand.
    0
  • smeker
    jtt283For the same amount of money, I can get a Brazos-based notebook with superior performance, more applications, a real keyboard, expandability, full interoperability with my PC, and the only thing I'll give up is some battery life (but apparently not all that much); oh, and an extra camera. I just don't see a tablet in my future.


    I m really happy for you and for sharing this news which has nothing to do with the article.... Keep up with the great trolling job! :)
    1
  • drchemist
    Galaxy Tab 10.1 was the FIRST tablet with Honeycomb 3.1 by almost 1 month. Change your headline. Google I/O doesn't count since it was a limited test edition for developers. Consumer released version on June 8. Check it.
    -1
  • acku
    drchemistGalaxy Tab 10.1 was the FIRST tablet with Honeycomb 3.1 by almost 1 month. Change your headline. Google I/O doesn't count since it was a limited test edition for developers. Consumer released version on June 8. Check it.


    Not true at all.
    http://www.engadget.com/2011/05/10/google-announces-android-3-1
    5/10 3.1 was available to Verizon Xoom owners. Xoom was first 3.0 and first 3.1
    2
  • winterblade
    Hello guys. A few months ago I really thought tablets were just a gimmick and that, iOS or Android, I would never get one, then I noticed that more and more frequently I rather use my Motoroi (the mexican version of the original Droid) than my laptop (a Dell Studio XPS 13) for simple tasks like chat, light browsing, checking mail and hell even for gaming I found myself using more and more my phone, but I really get tired soon because of the small display... so it soon became a no brainer that I wanted a tablet.

    I could really not say if it´s because I'm waaaaaaaaay more used to use android devices than iOS ones, but seriously, iPad being more intuitive than the Xoom my ass... I love the Android buttons in my phone and I love the software buttons in my Xoom. Of course iPad is going to be more intuitive if you are an iPhone user, is the same frikkin OS. I'm a PC user and as such I can tell you I feel at home with android from day one, iOS and OS X, even when pretty at first sight, are just not enough functional for me and I really find no value in that famous "apple experience" and since mankind is yet to design a experience-o-metter it is my humble opinion that in an OBJECTIVE review it should not be regarded over and over again, maybe in an editorial, but not in a review.

    About people saying they rather get a netbook or even a notebook instead a tablet (I was one of those not long ago) The only thing I can say is that if some one manage to make a 1.5 pound netbook with the 8-9 hours of constant use I can get from my Xoom I will agree with you then, but not today, tablets do have advantages over traditional systems.
    -1
  • irtehyar
    Good article.

    I'm an android phone owner and an ipad owner, and am slowly being converted to iOS for mobile simply because of the vast amount of applications I use that aren't even similarly available on the Android OS. This is painful for me because I'm a Windows programmer and I despise Apple, assemble my own PCs, etc. I'm pretty typical there I guess. But in the end, I just want something that does what I want (music and language apps, mostly), and when it comes to tablet software, only the iPad delivers for me.

    I wonder if this is similar to the way people in music and education felt in the early days of Mac vs PC, when Apple had the best experience and best apps for certain industries? These days I could never go Mac because it does a very tiny fraction of what I do on the PC. Not the case for the more limited tablet world.
    1
  • acku
    winterbladeHello guys. A few months ago I really thought tablets were just a gimmick and that, iOS or Android, I would never get one, then I noticed that more and more frequently I rather use my Motoroi (the mexican version of the original Droid) than my laptop (a Dell Studio XPS 13) for simple tasks like chat, light browsing, checking mail and hell even for gaming I found myself using more and more my phone, but I really get tired soon because of the small display... so it soon became a no brainer that I wanted a tablet.I could really not say if it´s because I'm waaaaaaaaay more used to use android devices than iOS ones, but seriously, iPad being more intuitive than the Xoom my ass... I love the Android buttons in my phone and I love the software buttons in my Xoom. Of course iPad is going to be more intuitive if you are an iPhone user, is the same frikkin OS. I'm a PC user and as such I can tell you I feel at home with android from day one, iOS and OS X, even when pretty at first sight, are just not enough functional for me and I really find no value in that famous "apple experience" and since mankind is yet to design a experience-o-metter it is my humble opinion that in an OBJECTIVE review it should not be regarded over and over again, maybe in an editorial, but not in a review.About people saying they rather get a netbook or even a notebook instead a tablet (I was one of those not long ago) The only thing I can say is that if some one manage to make a 1.5 pound netbook with the 8-9 hours of constant use I can get from my Xoom I will agree with you then, but not today, tablets do have advantages over traditional systems.


    I honestly can't speak from iPhone experience. Other TH coworkers have iPhones, but I don't. I actually have an Android phone, one that I purchased prior to any tablet use.

    Some of what I'm speaking from comes from my experience as an Android and iOS developer. Most of my comments on usability are simply issues with UI. As I stated in the review, the iPad is more analogous to the Wii, whereas Xoom feels more like a PS3. It's really a different experience.

    Anonymous said:
    Good article.

    I'm an android phone owner and an ipad owner, and am slowly being converted to iOS for mobile simply because of the vast amount of applications I use that aren't even similarly available on the Android OS. This is painful for me because I'm a Windows programmer and I despise Apple, assemble my own PCs, etc. I'm pretty typical there I guess. But in the end, I just want something that does what I want (music and language apps, mostly), and when it comes to tablet software, only the iPad delivers for me.

    I wonder if this is similar to the way people in music and education felt in the early days of Mac vs PC, when Apple had the best experience and best apps for certain industries? These days I could never go Mac because it does a very tiny fraction of what I do on the PC. Not the case for the more limited tablet world.



    Thanks for the kudos. As a programmer, you probably understand the problem of third-party app support in a way most people don't.

    On the second sentiment, I'm really not sure how this is going to play out. There are too many variables. So much of this has to do wtih product vision. Apple didn't help itself when it booted out Jobs back in the early days. The Android CTO Steve Horowitz left for Coupons a while back, but there are many talented people at the helm at Google. We probably need another year or two before the fog on the battlefield clears.
    3