With it now being owned by Google, Motorola should by rights be leading the charge when it comes to Android devices, but its Xoom and Xoom 2 tablets and many of its Droid phones have struggled in the wake of both the competition from Apple and other manufacturers churning out Android hardware. However, the Xoom 2 Media Edition could well be the device that finally pushes the company to the forefront. Contrary to what you might expect, though, the Xoom 2 Media Edition doesn't impress with any particular feature, rather it just gets the basics right.
First among its achievements is simple styling and good build quality. The front is a totally unbroken slab of glass while the back sports a brushed metal plate in the centre and soft touch plastic edges. The combination looks and feels premium and is comfortable to hold. The corners have also been clipped, like on the large Xoom 2. It's an intriguing design motif but one we think works reasonably well, and certainly doesn't detract from the overall look, even if it has little practical benefit.
Most notably, though, the smaller size of this tablet means it's both more portable than larger tablets (216 x 139 x 9 mm vs ~240 x 190 x 9mm), lighter (386g vs ~550g) and easier to hold. This isn't just because it's lighter and less top heavy but also those with largish hands can easily wrap there hand round both sides, giving a really secure grip – it really does make a difference if you have any intention of using your tablet regularly when travelling. It also highlights why the Asus Transformer has been such a success, as those larger tablets are much closer to bordering with laptops so people want to use them that way.
As with the 10in Xoom 2, the Media Edition has its buttons mounted on the back, rather than the side. We quite liked the idea of this at first as it further aids the tablets clean lines when viewed from the front and they theoretically fall easily under your fingers when holding the tablet normally. However, in practice they're difficult to locate and press without looking at what you're doing – a small but constant irritation.
Another missed trick is the lack of a microSD or SIM slots, so you can neither expand the internal storage nor add 3G. The latter is more common but the former is something of a let down especially as there's only 16GB (14GB of which is accessible) built in. it's enough to load the tablet with plenty enough videos to last a long haul flight, enough apps and games to keep you entertained for 100s of hours, and as many ebooks as you could read in a lifetime, but if you do have an extensive mp3 collection as well, you'll soon start to run out.
Perhaps what's most annoying is the plastic flap that would otherwise cover where these cards go is still there – lift it aside and you're met with cold hard nothingness. It's actually annoyingly sloppy to be frank.