For still photography, both tablets are clearly aimed at Web-oriented images, such as for posting on Facebook and Flickr. You're not at all likely to keep any for your family albums, project portfolios, or client sales presentations; you'll want a real digital camera for those. For videography, both tablets are fine for casual video -- don't buy into either Apple's or Motorola's HD video hype -- though the Xoom clearly bests the iPad 2.
The Xoom and the iPad 2 are equivalent in quality when it comes to audio output, despite the fact the iPad 2 has a single speaker and the Xoom has two. To get stereo-quality audio, connect either tablet to a stereo.
Finally, both devices use touchscreen keyboards but support external Bluetooth keyboards. To be safe, get an Apple or Apple-verified keyboard for the iPad 2 and a Motorola keyboard for the Xoom -- neither tablet would pair with the other tablet's Bluetooth keyboards. Neither the Xoom nor the iPad 2 supports mice or touchpads, but both support Bluetooth headsets such as for using Skype.
The winner: In the original deathmatch between the Xoom and the iPad 1, this category was the toughest call, given pros of the Xoom's cameras, video mirroring, and easier SD card usage versus the pros of the iPad 1's battery life and superior enclosure design and screen. But the iPad 2 erases the Xoom's advantages, even with the iPad 2's underpowered camera, making the iPad 2 the clear winner.
The overall winner is ...
The iPad 2 beats the Xoom in most of our comparison's categories -- often in significant ways. Still, make no mistake that the Xoom is a strong tablet offering, despite some annoyances (mainly related to software). But it lacks the fit, finish, elegance, and cohesion of the iPad 2. After all of these years of Apple's consistency in this regard, it never ceases to amaze me that competitors haven't wised up. Quality across the board has to be a given.
Still, for many users not blinded or charmed (take your pick) by the Apple way, the Xoom is a compelling tablet. If you're in the Android smartphone camp already, it's an easy pick as a tablet. We're only at the beginning of the Android tablet wave, so if you're leaning Android but have no pressing need for a tablet today, it makes sense to see what else comes on the market before committing to the Xoom. But if you're not a member of the Fandroid camp, the iPad 2 is the one to pick.
Motorola Mobility Xoom vs. Apple iPad 2
Supported U.S. networks
Motorola Mobility Xoom
$800 (32GB); $600 with two-year contract
Verizon Wireless, with data plans of $20 for 1GB, $35 for 3GB, $50 for 5GB, and $80 for 10GB; setup fee is $35. The use of tethering adds $20.
The first 10-inch Android tablet and the first model to use the tablet-optimized Android 3.0 OS, the Xoom packs the hardware capabilities that many users want. The Xoom's use of widgets and notifications keeps users more easily up-to-date. On the downside, the widescreen display results in awkward visual cramping, and several software and UI flaws suggest a rushed debut.
Apple iPad 2
iPad 2 with Wi-Fi: $500 (16GB), $600 (32GB), $700 (64GB); iPad 2 with Wi-Fi and 3G: $630 (16GB), $730 (32GB), $830 (64GB)
AT&T, with no-commitment data plans of $15 for 250MB and $25 for 2GB; Verizon Wireless, with no-commitment data plans of $20 for 1GB, $35 for 3GB, $50 for 5GB, and $80 for 10GB. For both carriers, the use of tethering adds $20.
The revamped model of the device that created the tablet phenomenon is even moreso the best tablet available, with a cohesive, elegant UI; lots and lots of apps; and a solid, well-designed enclosure. Its new inclusion of cameras and ability to mirror its display to an external monitor erase the major deficits of the original iPad. But note the camera produces mediocre still images and merely adequate video.
This story, "Tablet deathmatch: Apple iPad 2 vs. Motorola Xoom," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.
This story, "Tablet deathmatch: Apple iPad 2 vs. Motorola Xoom" was originally published by InfoWorld.