Motorola Xyboard: That’s it? (5 reasons why it’ll flop… again)

Xyboards are rebadged Xooms. Who's fooling whom? I didn't work the first time, what makes Motorola think it'll work again, especially with the likes of the awesome Asus Transformer Prime?

Motorola Xoom
Motorola Xoom - basking in the limelight back in the day (CES 2011).
Motorola Xoom
Motorola Xoom - basking in the limelight back in the day (CES 2011).

Motorola is dumping the “Xoom” name as fast as possible.

Back in the roaring Januaries of 2011, the Xoom was hot, hot, hot.

I remember tossing a glass of Motorola house white, so I could scramble to the demo area at a press event at CES. The Xoom was a photo hog; it loved the limelight. Unfortunately it was also a bit piggish as far as tablets are concerned: chunky, slow, messy (though the November refreshes were an improvement). The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (my current favorite) is far sexier with a thin design even besting iPad. This month Asus is launching the slick Transformer Prime hybrid tablet (with optional dockable keyboard) that is generally regarded as the Android tablet to beat, and likely future of tablet design (will Apple respond with an “iPad Air“?)

So I completely understand Moto’s desire to wipe themselves clean of the Xoom fiasco. It’s not quite at PlayBook levels of desperation (another CES star), but it’s fair to say it underwhelmed.

Their reboot, the Xyboard, should change all that…


But it won’t. Unfortunately.

Too bad because Motorola can do far better. The original Droid (November 2009) was a smash, and really pushed the smartphone envelope. So, too, does the new Droid RAZR. It seems as though Moto knows smartphones, but not tablets.

First, for the spec-lovers: 10.1- or 8.2-inch Gorilla Glass display, dual-core 1.2 gigahertz processors, 1 GB RAM, LTE 4G, 5MP rear/1.3MP front camera, Gingerbread only at this point, available with 16, 32 or 64GB (10.1 only) of storage.

Motorola Xyboard

Now, here’s the problems with the “new” warmed-over tablets:

1. They’re rebadged Xooms. Who’s fooling whom? It didn’t work the first time, what makes Motorola think it’ll work again, especially with the likes of the awesome Asus Transformer Prime?

2. Honeycomb.

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is better in just about every way, and is cheaper.

4. Amazon Kindle Fire. $200.

5. Where’s the Apps? This, of course, is the bane of Android tablets in general. No, please don’t convince me otherwise. The iPad is all over Android when it comes to (quality) apps. Let’s park ego at the fanboy door, and admit what’s fair: iPad has better tablet apps than Android. Okay?! Yes? Feel better? No… me neither.

The Xyboard already flopped. It was called the Xoom.

Which leads me to my final point: Specs do not win a market. We all know it and yet we all fall into the same trap time and time again. I drool too at specs. Then, I find myself underwhelmed or surprised. Why is the Tab 10.1 lagging? It has Tegra 2. It has awesome processing power. It’s too cool for school. Yes, I still think it’s a solid tablet, and fun to use. But there’s a difference between pleasing us spec mongers, and winning market share.

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  • gynot

    Maybe I’m just easy to please, but my friends would say “no way – you are a stickler for quality.” I bought a Xoom early in the year, and I’ve used iPads belonging to friends… I’ve got to say that I’m not wanting for anything with the Xoom. Its a stellar travel companion for this road warrior, with all of the functionality i need. Not a bit of trouble, either. I’m looking forward to getting ICS & about 2-3 more years out of her!

    • Bonus if ICS comes to Xoom… nothing like breathing new life into a previous investment! I’m an unabashed Android fan, and own a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 and 7 (original). Both are great. When it comes to social networking, reading (magazines), and battery life, I still turn to my iPad. I much prefer the flexibility of Android though. That you’ll likely get 2-3 yrs more life out of the Xoom is validation of the open mobile platform Google has created.

  • Anonymous

    4G speaks pretty loudly. Nothing else has the speed. I don’t really care that I’m not showered with millions of idiotic games. Xoom (and by your logic Xyboard) is a fantastic cloud device. Moreover, when I bought the Xoom, it was 3G. 4G upgrades were free, and took three days. Samsung 4G tablet? Buy another. Apple 4G tablet? You’ll have to buy another when its available. Anyone else have the free upgrade to 4G?
    Xoom is hands-down a better value for users who actually do work with their tablet. Folks looking to impress should stick to their iPads and leave the 4G network free for those of us with work to do.

  • Craig Goodwin

    I love my Xoom, You say the Galaxy tab is better in every way. Which way? They both have the same screen resolution and almost identical innards, and in my opinion the Xoom has a way higher build quality. The Galaxy Tab feels like a beginners plastic toy, while the xoom is metal and that weird rubber substance. The only thing the Galaxy Tab might have over the Xoom  is that it weighs much less, which to me isn’t nearly as important as build quality. (Cheap plastic is lighter than metal)

    The Galaxy Tab has Honeycomb too, and as the reference design, I believe Motorola has promised ICS on the original Xoom as soon as possible. 

    The Gal Tab is the same price as the Xoom (maybe even more expensive), so the kindle fires price should reflect that the Galaxy Tab is just as much of a flop.

    Apps? Yes IOS rules the roost there, which dosent help your point that the Galaxy Tab is a better piece of hardware, its in the same ecosystem as the Xoom

    I honestly think that for some reason, tech journalists have decided to make the Xoom the whipping boy for Android tabs for no justifiable reason. Its an amazing piece of hardware with a thriving community of devoted developers and fans. 

    The only problem Motorola has is that I love my Xoom so much, and it does everything I need, that I dont feel the need to upgrade to this generation of tablets. My old school Xoom should keep me happy for a long time to come.

    • Yes, fair enough. I’m learning there are a fair # of satisfied Xoom owners out there. That’s good. I did prefer the slimness of the Tab 10.1 and I found it faster in tests, and display slightly better. But, none of that matters, if the Android device meets your needs. Speaking of metal build, that’s one of the things I like about the OG Moto Droid. Robust build! Thanks for dropping by.

    • Also, forgot: I do really miss SD card on the 10.1. Xoom has that. I could really use that in the field for photography/video.

  • Anonymous

    Moto and other tab makers have got to be more innovative. Stock Android is a non-starter for most mainstream buyers. ICS is still stock and doesn’t change the basic problem – most buyers are not going to shell out $400+ for a web browser. 

    Android isn’t a solution. Content is. Apple has it. Amazon has it. B&N has it. The best bets going forward are Sony and Microsoft (GameStop is going to be marketing a gaming tab, too). They have content they can integrate in the tablet experience.

  • Mets Fan

    So basically your fantastic “insight” is that the Xoom was too big and since this is just a “name change’ which is complete BS this will be a flop too.  This is a pathetically shallow writeup and completely biased piece of junk article that wasn’t even a little bit useful to anyone in the world.

    Seriously, you get paid for this drivel?

    I was hoping to get some hands on feedback for the device as I am torn between the 4G LTE power of the Xyboard (terrible name and all) with the clearly better specs but only Wi-Fi availability of the Prime.  Since the laptop conversion doesn’t interest me in the slightest, I am very torn between the two.

    I get that the Xyboard is a bit overpriced, but it looks to be better than the Galaxy Tab and I am hoping it will be the “right fit” for me.  Unfortunately, this useless piece of drivel didn’t help with anyone actually trying to figure out what they are going to do in the slightest.

  • Xoomy

    It’s so funny, i hear this stuff all the time from evaluators that are used to the apple products or dazzled by thinner or lighter aesthetics. I too use both the Xoom and the iPad, and see the Xoom as an unquestionable better product with no shortage of apps.  My co-workers who have iPads are constantly trying to find apps to keep up with what I do with mine and unless you are a musician (iPad is great for musical applications) then you are missing nothing on the Honeycomb tablet.  Your comments about the system being buggy and the Kindle are hilarious!  If you want a cheap tablet and price is your top criteria, then feel free to settle for a lessor product.  If you want a system with real multi-tasking, speed, expandability, and great functionality for home or business, then spend a few more dollars for a quality product like the Xyboard.