Well unless you have been under a rock you know that the 2nd biggest news of today, or maybe third since there seems to be a LOT going on in the news today is that the iPad 2 is finally released. It is a little after 5:00 on the East Coast right now. Tweets are flying from those standing in line waiting to get their hands on one. But if you are still one of the undecided and thinking about whether or not you want to go with an iOS device, or an Android device, no doubt the Motorola Xoom is in your sights. I know it’s in mine.  Check out this post from our friend Sarah about the pros and cons of both devices.


 

As just about everyone in the tech world is now aware, the iPad 2 was recently unveiled at an Apple event in San Francisco, to much hype and speculation.  And while the latest iteration of Apple’s tablet did indeed include some of the features that had been rumored for months, many expected additions were nowhere to be seen.  Luckily, Google’s Android platform (joined with Motorola hardware) may be able to offer what Apple cannot (or more pointedly, has not).  With the launch of the Motorola Xoom, consumers will have a real choice to make, between two pretty great tablets.  It’s times like these that you really have to appreciate the benefits of living in a free-market system where the sky is the limit where competition is concerned.  So if you’re interested in picking up a handheld slice of tech nirvana, here are a few options from each camp that you might want to consider.

First off, the iPad 2 includes a few features that were lacking in the first version.  Front and rear cameras were notably lacking in the original iPad (to the great dismay of customers), so those have been included.  And a newly styled body is both thinner (by 33%, making it even thinner than the iPhone 4 at 8.8 mm) and lighter, with rounded edges for easier grip.  Also included are a 1GHz dual-core processor, a 3-axis gyroscope, and an accelerometer.  If you’re wondering where the rest of the list of added value went, you’re going to be sadly disappointed, because that’s about it.  As for what they failed to include (despite public clamor), that is a long list.  Suffice it to say, the most important missing features are 4G network, increased resolution (and screen size), 16:9 aspect ratio (it’s the only tablet still sporting 4:3), and additional memory.

As for the Xoom, you may be pleasantly surprised by how they’ve maneuvered to fill the gaps (and best the competition).  For starters, they have better cameras, trumping the biggest selling point of the new iPad.  Xoom offers a 2-megapixel camera on the screen for video-chat functionality, while the rear-facing camera is a whopping 5-megapixel piece of hardware for high-quality photos and video (the iPad has only 1-megapixel cameras).  In addition, Motorola’s tablet comes with a 10.1 inch screen (as opposed to Apple’s 9.7), widescreen capability, and a resolution of 1280×800 (iPad offers 1024X768).  Finally, it looks like the Xoom is offering the one thing that Apple has been mum on: the addition of a 4G network.  If this is in the works for the iPad 3, no one is telling, but it’s certainly not included for the iPad 2.  Of course, you’ll need to mail in your Xoom to the manufacturer to get the 4G upgrade, but at least it’s an option.  And although the Xoom has only one version (with 32GB memory), they have provided an SD card slot that will allow users to double that number.

Now, iPad does have 65,000 apps to choose from via iTunes, a feature that the Xoom cannot compete with.  And Apple’s starting price ($499) has the Xoom beat by about $100.  But overall, it appears that the Xoom comes out ahead in the areas that are most important, which is to say, in matters of functionality.  So unless you’re willing to hold out for the iPad 3 (which by all accounts, won’t be out this year, despite circulating rumors) you might want to go with the Xoom for now.

Sarah Danielson is a writer for Seareach a manufacturer of asset marking and security printing solutions.