After much speculation and debate, the iPad 2 was finally unveiled. As most people had predicted, it was a very nice update, but nothing was really groundbreaking. It’s now thinner, faster, and has front and rear-facing cameras. The software, screen and price are essentially the same.
On the flip side, I picked up a Xoom last week and I’ve been quite impressed with it. So which one should you get? Read on to help make that decision.
Comparing the 32GB 3G iPad to the Xoom brings you two very similar tablets.
- Connection: Both support wifi and 3G, but the Xoom will support 4G in a few months. Edge: Xoom
- RAM: The iPad has 512MB, the Xoom has 1GB. While this appears to be an edge for the Xoom, the iPad has never had an issue bogging down, so I don’t think sheer numbers mean too much here. Edge: Even
- Cameras: Both have a front and rear-facing camera, though the Xoom has higher quality cameras in both places. However, I don’t think you’ll see much difference in day-to-day use. Edge: Even
- Screen: While the iPad 3 is rumored to have a much higher-res screen, right now they’re pretty similar. The iPad is 9.7″ at 1024×768 and the Xoom is 10.1″ at 1280×800. It’s not much of a difference, but it means that the Xoom can play 720p video right on the device and the iPad can’t. Slight Edge: Xoom
- Apps: The native Honeycomb apps are quite awesome (Gmail, CNN, YouTube, etc), but there aren’t many of them yet. People estimate around 100 tablet-ready apps for the Xoom, and around 65,000 for the iPad. Even if the email and browser are much better on the Xoom (and they are), and you know they’ll have a ton of apps pretty soon, numbers don’t lie. Edge: iPad
- Multi-tasking: While both devices handle multi-tasking, it’s much more friendly on the Xoom. Not only is the task-switching much easier, but the notifications are handled way better. This is rumored to be fixed in iOS 5, but for now Edge: Xoom
- Connectivity: Both devices have full HDMI out (which is way cool), but the Xoom does it with a normal mini-HDMI cable. In addition, it has a standard USB cable, can add storage via MicroSD, and gets updates over-the-air. Edge: Xoom
- Music/Movies: While the Xoom has a greatly improved music player and the screen resolution was born for high-def movies, Apple has this area locked up for now with the excellent apps included with the iPad. Edge: iPad
- Battery Life: They can both go for about 10 hours, which is pretty awesome. Edge: Even
- Video chat: The iPad can do FaceTime and the Xoom can do Google Video Chat, so that’s kind of a toss up. However, the Xoom can do chat over wifi or 3G, and the iPad is 3G only. I didn’t think this would matter much, as I expected 3G video chat to be pretty choppy, but it’s shockingly smooth. Edge: Xoom
Other Xoom Advantages
- Homescreen widgets — Get a live look at your email, calendar, weather, etc, without having to open each app individually.
- Notifications — As mentioned in the “multi-tasking” above, the notification system on Android has always been far better than iOS, and it’s even better now in Honeycomb.
- Great phone app handling — The Xoom handles phone-based apps much better than the iPad handles iPhone-based apps. However, considering the iPad has 65,000 apps, the Xoom had better do something like this to balace it out a little bit.
- Tethering — If you get the 3G package on the Xoom, you can tether that connection to any other device for free. Just be careful not to use up too much data.
Other iPad 2 Advantages
- Screen protector — It’s not a huge deal, but that screen protector thing they unveiled with the iPad 2 looks pretty slick.
- Stability — Honeycomb is quite stable and rarely crashes, but iOS is rock solid.
So which one should I get?
That’s not an easy decision. I always bring it back to email. If you use Gmail, it’s 100x better on Android. If you use any other email system, then they’re about the same on both systems and you’ll need other metrics to decide. I find that the Xoom is more of a workhorse (multitasking, etc), and the iPad is more fun to play with (more games).
I think most people would be quite happy with either device. I’m thrilled with my Xoom, and wrote most of this blog entry on it. However, my wife prefers iOS over Android so if she ever gets a tablet it’ll almost certainly be an iPad.
While it’s almost certain that the iPad will outsell everyone else this year, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best.
What do you think? Plan on picking up either tablet any time soon?