How the Motorola Xoom Works

The Motorola Xoom hit the market in early 2011 and is the first device to run the tablet version of the Android operating system. See more gadget pictures.
Motorola Mobility, Inc.

With a growing number of people buying smartphones and notebook-sized laptops, the tablet form factor seems to be the perfect hybrid of the two. When the iPad hit the market in April 2010, techies took notice and questioned whether people would buy it. Though the iPad was far from the first tablet, its release was a bold statement about the tablet market: A company like Apple was willing to put its reputation on the line for it. Since then, Apple has sold millions of iPads worldwide, and newer models continue to improve on the original.

In February 2011, the Motorola Xoom zoomed onto the tablet market as an Android-powered answer to the iPad. The biggest buzz around Xoom focused on the tablet's impressive hardware features. Motorola met or exceeded the technical specifications of Apple's iPad, the benchmark tablet device as of this writing. The following is a brief list of the Xoom's hardware specifications [sources: Motorola, Detwiler]:

  • Dimensions: 9.8 by 6.6 by 0.5 inches (249 by 167.8 by 12.9 millimeters)
  • Weight: 708 grams (730 grams for the 3G version)
  • Display: 10.1 inches (256.5 millimeters), 1280 by 800 pixel with 150 pixels per inch
  • Processor: 1 GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2
  • Storage space: 32 GB, expandable by adding a microSD card
  • Video: 720p capture and playback
  • Camera: 5 megapixel back-facing camera, 2 megapixel front-facing camera
  • Wireless connections: Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n), Bluetooth, optional 3G mobile service with Verizon and space for an upgrade component from Motorola to 4G LTC
  • Connectors: Micro-USB and HDMI micro
  • Other features: Stereo Bluetooth, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, light and proximity sensors

The Xoom is a sleek and powerful little package, but it's the software that really makes it stand out in the crowd. The iPad, like other mobile devices from Apple, is powered by the Apple iOS mobile operating system. Inspired by the iPad's success, other manufacturers developed tablets that use iOS's biggest competitor, the popular and highly customizable Android mobile operating system. Those early Android-based tablets had varying success. For the development of the Xoom, though, Motorola partnered with Google, whose developers went back to the drawing board with the Android operating system and optimized it for use in tablet devices.

Together, Motorola and Google aimed to create a product that could truly stand toe-to-toe with the iPad. Did it work? To find out, let's take a peek at the Xoom's hardware and software along with some of the challenges it faces on the tablet market. We'll start by zooming in on what's happening inside the device.