February 03, 2011, 1:34 AM — Today I got my first hands-on time with the Motorola Xoom tablet, running Android 3.0. And the one-two punch proved a compelling experience. It's a very different experience than what one gets on today's Android 2.2 tablets (led by Samsung Galaxy Tab), or on Apple's iPad.
When the Motorola Xoom was first introduced last month at the CES show in Las Vegas, we only got glimpses of what it could do. Emphasis on the word glimpses: The demos were videos, run by demonstrators who wouldn't allow hands-on with the device. Today, however, was a completely different experience. After Google's special event at its headquarters to formally introduce Android 3.0, nearly a dozen developers showed off their apps on the Motorola Xoom, and Google staffers showed off how Honeycomb functions, on the Xoom device.
By all appearances, Motorola has a huge advantage over its Android competitors, as they're first in line waiting for the final software developer's kit to be released in a few weeks. Meanwhile, Motorola has said it's aiming to ship the Xoom in late February-which would be about when other tablet makers will first be getting their hands on the SDK.
To recap the basic specs, the Xoom runs Nvidia's Tegra 2 platform, with a dual-core 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and 32GB of on-board user memory (plus an SD card slot). The display measures 10.1-inches, and it packs a 1280 by 800 resolution display.
Now, to the good stuff, which, from these first impressions, is almost everything else about the tablet. The Xoom felt as if it had good build quality, and its contours made it feel fairly natural in-hand, in spite of the hefty weight.
Beyond my gripe about the smoothness of text, the screen displayed gorgeous photographs. Looking at images of NFL football on the Sports Illustrated app, the players practically leapt off the screen. The capacitive multi-touch screen was super-responsive in conjunction with Honeycomb; speedy swipes and light touches only, thank you.