The original Motorola Xoom was the first Android tablet to get an official stamp of approval from Google. But its early headline-grabbing promise was fairly soon washed away by the ultra-thin Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the ultra-pricedropped HP Touchpad, the ultra-Apple iPad 2 and, of course, our tablet of 2011 the Asus Transformer. The Xoom 2 is Motorola's second attempt at a 10.1in tablet. It's thinner, it's lighter and it's faster than its forebear. But will it convince the masses to shell out just under £400, when its predecessor largely failed?
The second generation of 10.1 Android Honeycomb tablets has predictably seen several manufacturers follow the pattern set by Apple in its transition from the iPad to the iPad 2, in cutting down weight and thickness significantly. Motorola is among them. The original Xoom's 12.9mm body and 730g weight have been shrunk to 8.8mm and 599g (601g according to our scales). That's exactly the same thickness, and within a gram or two of the iPad 2. Coincidence? Of course it's bloomin' not.
Not that we're accusing Motorola of copying Apple's homework, as the design is actually fairly different. Like most Android tablets, it's widescreen (16:10), with a 10.1in 1,280x800 pixel display as opposed to the iPad's 4:3 aspect, 1,024 x 768 pixel panel. The back is also made up of three slabs rather than a single seamless field of anodised metal. Rather like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, part of it has a soft touch finish. The edges - when held horizontally - use this finish, avoiding the cold, hard touch of metal.
Most of the back is covered in metal, mind, bringing the high-end premium feel that's a must-have for any tablet costing hundreds of pounds. Motorola has taken the easy engineering route for the tablet's connections though, carving them into the black plastic sides and the grey plastic top section rather than into aluminium. This top grey part is meant to look mostly like a continuation of the metal plate below, but on close inspection the finish is a little different, which is a shame.
Up top within the grey plastic there's a 3.5mm headphone jack, the camera lens housing and the stereo speaker grills. All the serious connectivity extras are on the bottom - the microSD slot and a microHDMI video output, next to a subtle black flap that hides the SIM slot (filled-in on our Wi-Fi only sample) and the place where the microSD slot should have been.
The flap of eternal nothingness
Yes, memory is non-expandable here and the standard model comes with only 16GB of internal storage - enough to get going but a paltry amount compared to the 64GB of top end iPads. Motorola claims expandable memory is no longer needed in a tablet, but we disagree. And taunting us with a spot where the microSD slot clearly once was is just cruel.