I have had custody of a Xoom tablet for about a week now.  We are evaluating several tablets at work for deployment in the field.  Quite honestly, I think that quite a few of my coworkers should be deployed in the field and left there but as you might understand, no one asks me to make these kinds of decisions.  Go figure.

My boss is enjoying the hell out of a Samsung Galaxy.  As usual, I don’t see the utility of that particular device.  I played around with it for a few hours and it seemed like my Droid phone with a thyroid issue.  Granted, they’re both Android devices.  I just felt that the Galaxy was a bit small, especially if you want to type.

My boss got frustrated with the Xoom so I was given the opportunity to test drive it.  It was nice to give him the raspberry when I got it working.

The consensus of many reviewers seemed to be that the device was not ready for prime time.  Given that the 4G and SD capabilities would be activated later by software, I’d have to partially agree.  There are no existing apps for using it as a phone or sms (you have to root it first).  It’s also a bit heavy.

It is, however, not lacking in processor.  The dual core cpu really makes performance something to blog about.  Battery life feels quite good regardless of whether or not I’m using it much.  Wifi and 3G performance are flawless.  Screen size is great for remotely accessing computers (or most anything else).

SOFTWARE

Anybody who has used an Android device should have no trouble with this.  The Marketplace was familiar, although I couldn’t figure out how to display new apps only.  Installs and updates were simple.  For some reason, perhaps developer or Motorola confusion, there were not nearly as many apps available.  I had hoped I could find everything I loved on my Droid phone for the Xoom but was disappointed to find some missing.

There is an application to deal with Microsoft Office documents included.  Unfortunately it’s just a demo.  To do anything productive, you have to pay for it ($14.95 fyi).  There is another (view-only) suite available.

The Xoom got rave reviews from my wife and assorted inner and outer children.  Angry Birds kept everybody riveted to the screen for hours.

You can encrypt the entire device, which I did.  I appreciate this feature as a security guy.

OVERALL

I would have to agree with the other bloggers, in that this device is not ready for prime time.  In terms of putting it to work, it is also not ready.  While it does have some VPN capability, it could use built-in Office compatibility (and I hate Office).  After paying $600 or more, you should get software.

OOPS!

All of this wonderful information is about to become moot because the Xoom is about to be discontinued.  We spoke to one of our vendors today, who passed on this tidbit.  It seems that the larger consensus is that the device is not ready for prime-time (where did I hear that before?).  Manufacturers are apparently in a mad rush to compete with the other overpriced tablet.

SUGGESTIONS

As I mentioned, I’m not exactly the target market, because these things don’t really excite me.  I figure if you’re going to do it, do it right and just use a laptop or netbook.  If the universe somehow turned itself inside out and the manufacturer asked me how to improve the Xoom, here is what I’d suggest:

  • one word: lighter
  • make the screen bigger (and smudgeproof)
  • include a case and `kickstand’
  • include some decent business apps if that’s the target market
  • have it sense and jam any iDevice within range
  • keep it wide open in terms of format
  • make it affordable and you’ll own the market

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.  While it’s not a barn-burner for $600, it sure is a nice toy at a considerably lower price point.  I enjoyed having it handy when a laptop or desktop would have been too heavy.