Why Motorola Xoom won’t dent iPad2 in India but new Samsung Galaxy Tabs may

Motorola has just launched its flagship tablet — the Motorola Xoom in India for Rs 38,999. It is the first tablet to offer any real competition to the iPad2 and the first high-end, big screen Android tablet to hit India as well.

However, if you are in the market for a great Android tablet that can stand its own against the iPad2, we tell you why the Xoom is perhaps not that product and why you should wait for one more month.

As of now, the only prominent and up-to-date Android tablet in the Indian market is the HTC Flyer, but since it is a 7 inch model, we are excluding from the comparison here for two reasons. 7 inches is a wholly different market.

7-inch tablets are for people who care more about mobility and portability than those who are trying to buy a tablet that can also be used as an office PC after hooking it up with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

Xoom, therefore, will be the first real challenger to the iPad2 which was released in India for around Rs 36,000 (for the cellular version) two months ago. However, going by the indications, the Xoom may not dent the iPad2 market in any major way in India at all.

Both the Xoom and the iPad2 are remarkably similar in their features (10 inch display, 10 hours of battery) and the deciding factors are only three — the operating system, the weight and the price.

The Xoom is perhaps the most expensive Android tablet on the planet — coming in at $800 (Rs 36,000) in the US market. Since the Indian prices tend to be higher by around 10% or more, the price in India is likely to push at the Rs 40,000 mark for the 3G version of the 10 inch tablet — a price point that has not been seen for sometime.

On the other hand, Apple, which always used to get beaten in the Indian market due to its practice of launching products here almost a year after they are launched in the US, is on a strong wicket with the iPad2.

Unlike the launch of the iPhones and the first iPad, Apple launched the 10-inch iPad2 quickly in the Indian market, bringing it in end-April — just a month after it was launched in the US.

On the other hand, the first iPad took nearly nine months to reach India and meanwhile, Samsung stole a large part of the market with its first, 7-inch Galaxy Tab. This time, however, Apple’s iPad2 is as technically advanced as the Xoom — practically its only competitor in India.

Both work on dual core 1 GHz processors and have powerful graphics processors — a PowerVR core in one case and an Nvidia core in case of the Xoom.

The only major points of difference between the two models are in the operating system, the display resolution and to some extent, the weight.

The display on the Xoom is a high-definition one. It has 1 million pixels (dots) on it, while the iPad2 display has only 0.78 million pixels on it. In other words, the Xoom has 30% more pixels on it and the higher the number of pixels, the more crisp the picture looks, especially when held close to the eye when lying on a bed or sofa for reading.

The second important difference is of course the operating system. The iPad2 ties you down to the Apple ecosystem, with its restrictions, and of course, some conveniences. The Android 3 Honeycomb operating system, on the hand, is drawn from the open source world.

In effect, it means that you can play any sort of file on the latter, while the iPad2 imposes restrictions on the kind of files that you can play — in an effort to make sure that you actually paid for the movie that you are trying to see on it.

Being based on Android, the Xoom is also more likely to be support a high number of accessories, such as wireless keyboards and mice, that can convert the tablet into a desktop once you reach office. The iPad2, of course, will work with Apple’s own wireless keyboards etc.. and may even support the others, but Android has an edge in this matter.

There are also reports that the Honeycomb interface is zippier and more responsive than the iPad’s iOS interface, though this may be a subjective preference.

And finally, one comes to perhaps one of the most important aspects of tablets — their weight. While a few hundred grams here and there on your laptop will not kill you or make the laptop unusable, the tablet differs in this respect.

Unlike a netbook or laptop, the tablet is widely used for reading, especially in a lying position and is often held up high in one hand to read off from.

This is a factor that many first-time tablet buyers often ignore, only to find out later that they have developed wrist pain from trying to hold the thing up while reading. The original iPad weighed 730 grams, quite a load on the wrist.

But the iPad2 was slimmed down to beat the bulk and now comes in at just 607 gm — decent, but still kind of heavy. The Xoom, however, still clocks in at the old iPad weight — 730 gm.

So, unless you really care about software freedom and playing anything you want, iPad2 is probably a better choice between the two.

If you really want an Android tablet or you intend to use the device for a lot of reading, then you might want to wait for around 4-5 weeks more for Samsung to come out with its new 8.9 and 10 inch tablet.

The 8.9 inch Galaxy Tab, which is likely to cost around Rs 2,000-4,000 less than the iPad2 or Xoom, weighs just 470 grams and has all the features that both the above tablets have. In addition, it may actually have faster 3G speeds as well.

Or you can wait for the the Samsung Galaxy tab 10 inch, which too is expected to be launched in India in July.

Besides, while the iPad2 has a 0.7 megapixel camera, the Xoom has a 5 megapixel one and the 8.9 inch Samsung Galaxy Tabs will have 3.15 megapixel cameras. Both of the big Galaxy Tabs will support upto 21 Mbps of 3G speed — higher than the others.

The best thing, perhaps, about the Galaxy Tab 10.1 inch is its weight — 589 grams, or less than the iPad2, while offering similar battery life.

All this, however, only if you are serious about using the tablet for reading. If not and especially if you are a rough user, Xoom is a good choice as it is tougher than the other two — thanks in part to the extensive use of metal in the body. Both Samsung and iPad are both predominantly plastic builds, which helps them keep the weight down.


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