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Motorola Xoom: The First Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) Tablet

Adobe Flash + Android: Certified, But Not Perfect

Apple has its reasons to support HTML5 instead of Flash. Let’s face it; Flash tends to be a performance hog. If you’re concerned with battery life, that’s a trait you want to avoid. On the other hand, Flash is the most dominant form of streaming video, and it’s here to stay.

Google and Adobe want to exploit Apple’s shift towards HTML5, but Flash support progresses at a snail’s pace. Earlier this year, Google launched Honeycomb without Flash support. This frustrated many users because they bought Android devices with the expectation it'd be there. Worse, the non-beta versions of Flash had spotty compatibility.

Android Honeycomb + Flash 10.3Supported
CBSN
CNNY
ESPNN
HuluN
The Colbert ReportY
VimeoN
YouKuY
YouTubeY

A month ago, Adobe gave us a hint that it was about to release Flash 10.3, the first non-beta version for Android. I have been tracking Flash since 10.1 beta, so I was keen to test out a final build. After a month of testing, I can’t help but feel disappointed. I tried out Flash on multiple Web sites, but found support to be haphazard. That fact is even more of a bummer because Adobe lists the Xoom as a certified device.

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Vimeo

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ESPN

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Hulu

Hulu, ESPN, and Vimeo don’t work. YouTube works well, but other Web sites have a few quirks. For example, I can only watch CBS episodes if I open them in a video player. I can watch The Colbert Report in full-screen mode, but it kills responsiveness. I can’t even hit pause or exit full-screen mode without waiting 10 seconds because there’s a lag in registering a gesture. This also applies to windowed Flash video. For example, you can’t scroll and watch video on CNN without dropping frames and getting a stuttered scrolling action.

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CBS

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CBS

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The Colbert Report

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YouKu

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Youtube

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CNN

If you try to navigate while Flash video plays, performance can get so bad that artifacts appear.

Overall, Flash support continues to be flawed on Android. We're hoping that Adobe addresses these issues in 10.4, but we're not holding our breath. The company is already late with the software we already expected to see. And if there isn't a way to optimize further, completely fluid Flash video probably won’t be a reality until tablets employ better hardware.

  • dragonsqrrl
    Very impressive review, especially the display quality page. A lot of in-depth information.
    Reply
  • joytech22
    Excellent! Covered everything I was interested in when comparing the iPad 2 to the Xoom.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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)
    Reply
  • acku
    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
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply