Motorola XOOM 2 Initial Thoughts – Review

moto.gifI have been using Motorola’s new Xoom 2 for about a week now. Here are my initial thoughts.

On the positive side, it feels like a quality device and is smaller and lighter than the original XOOM. I like the large screen size. The 1200×800 resolution is great when used vertically in the web browser when you tend to be able to view a lot of a long web page. I also like the fact that QuickOffice and printing to a network printer are included ‘in the box’. It’s also reassuring to know that while it currently runs Android 3.2, I’ll be able to eventually upgrade to Android 4.0. The XOOM 2 folio case is well worth buying as it’s a perfect fit and provides an extra plastic shell at the back and a hard yet foldable flap at the front that doubles as a stand when folded up.

On the negative side, I have had problems with WiFi. The device occasionally doesn’t reconnect automatically to WiFi when the device is turned on and needs manual intervention to reconnect. This is irrespective of whether the setting for ‘connect when screen off’ is ‘on’ or ‘off’. The iPad and all my Android smartphones give perfect re-connects. The XOOM 2 has locked up once in about a week. There’s also a problem in the Android market where text and/or icons randomly flash – strange. The Gallery has a problem with some images that are displayed with a thin black vertical line through them when displayed horizontally. Finally, battery life of several days isn’t that good for a WiFi-only device (again compared with the iPad that can last a week or more). All these are slight annoyances but are certainly not expected for a device that costs a similar amount as the iPad.

Motorola offer an active stylus as an optional accessory. I wondered what ‘active’ actually meant and whether it would be good enough to allow me to take handwritten notes. There was no description online what the active stylus actually did nor any reviews online so I resorted to buying one. It turns out the stylus doesn’t add that much and I wouldn’t recommend buying. It provides very slightly more fidelity when drawing/handwriting and that’s it. As far as I can tell, unlike the Dell Flyer, there’s no extra pen digitiser in the XOOM 2 which means it can’t differentiate between the pen and you leaning your hand on the screen. In all apps I tried, handwriting screen lags so much as not to be of much use. You might as well buy a much less expensive capacitive stylus elsewhere if you think you need the very little extra fidelity it provides. In my opinion it’s not really practical to take handwritten notes due to the lack of hand leaning detection and drawing lag.

UPDATE January 2012: I now have a list of apps specifically written for the Android tablet at 

UPDATE January 2012: Seems people with the media edition have the same problem of disconnecting WiFi

UPDATE March 2012: Motorola have finally pushed an update that fixes the WiFi issue.