Don't call it a Xoom. For the Motorola's second stab at an Android tablet, the mobile maker is leaning on its vaunted Droid branding by giving us the Droid Xyboard in two sizes, a 10.1-inch Xyboard and a smaller 8.2-inch tablet.
These two tablets are known as the Xoom 2 and Xoom 2 Media Edition in Europe, but it seems Motorola was hesitant in keeping the Xoom name following the original Honeycomb tablet's lukewarm sales reception stateside.
But what's in a name anyway? The team at TabletPCReview rather liked the Xoom, particularly its decent build quality and zippy dual-core-fueled performance. Let's find out if Motorola retained and added to that with the 8.2-inch Droid Xyboard in this full review.
BUILD & DESIGN
This Xyboard has an 8.2-inch display, and is the only major tablet to hold that distinction. I haven't been shy about my love for the seven- and 8.9-inch tablets as they are much more portable than the sometimes unwieldy 10.1-inch devices, so I'm a fan of this screen size.
Also, unlike most other tablets, the Xyboard is not a rectangle. Instead it borrows from the Droid RAZR aesthetic with slightly angled edges, which really do nothing for performance or ergonomics, but look cool and distinctive nonetheless.
The 1280 x 800 resolution display dominates the front, with the front-facing 1.3-megapxiel digicam on the right-hand short side. Opposite that, on the left, is a tiny on-board mic pinhole.
The back features an aluminum center with rubberized and rounded edges that combine to give the Honeycomb tablet a durable feel. I knock Samsung for the overly plastic Galaxy Tab build, so I'll praise Motorola for turning to two superior materials, even if they do add marginally to the weight.
Once again, the 5-megapixel rear camera and flash are on the short left side, with a volume rocker and power button just on the top. The buttons are recessed and difficult to press, and they are only buttons on the device. They are especially difficult to identify via touch, and often require the user to flip the device over to see the proper buttons for wake/sleep or controlling the volume. Too often while watching a movie on the Xyboard, I accidentally put the tablet to sleep instead of adjusting the volume as I intended.
The Xyboard is quite thin, but a bit thicker than the Galaxy Tab 8.9. It makes good use of its limited girth by placing two speakers on each sort side, along with a 3.5mm audio jack and infrared (IR) sensor on one side, along with a microUSB input, microHDMI input, and covered SIM card slot on the other. It would have been nice if Motorola also included a microSD card slot, but when many competing devices only offer a proprietary input, I won't complain too loudly.
Screen and Speakers
The Droid Xyboard display packs 184 pixels per inch (ppi) of screen real estate, which is less than some 7-inch models that top 200 ppi owing to their smaller size, but still more than sufficient. The picture quality is right up there with the Galaxy Tabs as some of the best on Android tablets, and it compares favorably against the iPad 2.
The display tends toward the cooler tones and is very bright at max setting. Viewing angles are exceptional, text looks sharp and streaming Netflix is very good. Touch sensitivity is acceptable, though it's jittery while web browsing, particularly with pinch to zoom.
Tablet speakers are universally awful, and the Xyboard sound output is better than most, but that doesn't mean it's all that great. Verizon boasts that the 8.2-inch version has "cinematic surround sound," complete with two relatively large speakers and a digital subwoofer for 2.1 "adaptive virtual surround sound." Motorola also claims the sound shifts depending on how the tablet is held. I'll have to take Motorola's word for it as I couldn't hear any shifting, but that may be the point.
Anyway, while I can safely say the Xyboard is one of the louder tablets at max volume (meaning headphones are not a requirement for Netflix viewing), the sound quality for music is subpar and out of balance, even after messing around with the presets buried in the Settings menu. Dialogue sounds good, but the bass levels are consistently overpowering and the output distorted. Also, the Motorola continues the trend of misplacing the speakers on the sides of the device, when they should be on the front, directing sound at the user.
Motorola Droid Xyboard 8.2 specs:
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