Droid XYBOARD 10.1 Review (Video)
The Droid XYBOARD 10.1 is a new 4G LTE Android tablet available from Verizon Wireless. Motorola has taken everything the company learned from the Xoom to release a more refined tablet on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.
Verizon and Motorola are betting that business users and consumers will flock to the 4G speeds that are 10 times faster than you can get on the iPad WiFI+ 3G as well as the included stylus and IR blaster that turns this tablet into a large universal remote control.
Keep reading to find out if the Motorola XYBOARD 10.1 can live up to the features and offer an excellent tablet experience.
The Droid XYBOARD 10.1 is a tablet made to be held. The rubber edges and tapered corners combine with a water-repellent coating to form an inviting form factor you’ll feel comfortable taking with you wherever you go.
With business friendly apps and Verizon’s blazing fast 4G LTE connection the XYBOARD is an attractive option for small business users and frequent travelers who count on a fast and reliable connection to work on the go.
The stylus held promise, but lack of palm rejection and excellent software ultimately negate its usefulness. The XYBOARD is a better option than the iPad for some users, but the 2-year contract and monthly data plans will turn off some potential buyers.
Droid XYBOARD 10.1 | $529 | Verizon Wireless
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The video below will walk you through the Droid XYBOARD 1.01 tablet and give you an overview of the hardware and design. You can see the pre-installed apps as well as an overview of speakers. This video highlights the feel of the device, one of my favorite features on the XYBOARD 10.1, and the connection options.
Motorola uses the same design language as the popular Droid RAZR MAXX and Droid 4 smartphones to deliver a tablet that feels great in your hands. The curved edges have a rubber finish for good grip, making this 4G tablet perfect for taking with you on the road or to an outdoor activity.
The XYBOARD has a water repellant coating that will keep your tablet going if you happen to get it damp while out and about, but it is not waterproof, so don’t take this one into the hot tub.
Like the Motorola phones we have reviewed recently, the XYBOARD 101 has a very solid build, with no flex when you try to place pressure on the edges of the tablet..
Motorola made an odd choice with the power button, which is on the rear of the tablet. The power button is next to the volume buttons, but hard to find without turning the tablet over and looking for it. Further complicating things, there’s no easy way to tell if you have the tablet right-side up when you pick it up from a table.
As for connectivity, you have a Micro USB port for charging and transferring files and a mini HDMI connection that can mirror your display on a projector or a HDTV. There is also a 4G LTE SIM slot, but no Micro SD card slot for adding extra storage. On the top of the device is a 3.5mm headphone jack and an IR blaster that allows you to control your home theater with the included dijit app.
The Droid XYBOARD 10.1 includes a stylus that gives you a finer point than the capacitive styluses sold aftermarket for the iPad, but in day-to-day use it doesn’t add much value thanks to a lack of software.
I had high hopes for this stylus, but the pointed tip did nothing to overcome the lackluster floating notes software. The video below shows off the potential of the Stylus and the performance in the included notes software.
As you can see in the video, the Floating Notes app allows you to send your note to Evernote. The free Evernote app will perform handwriting recognition on it, making your handwritten notes searchable, but not converting them into text.
Motorola uses Gorilla Glass for the Droid XYBOARD 10.1 display which provides protection from scratches, including puppy nails that tried to assault the tablet during my review.
The Droid XYBOARD 10.1 inch display has a 1280 x 800 resolution, which provides a bright and colorful viewing experience. The display isn’t as bright as some IPS displays that we have used, but can be operated outdoors without too much glare.
Viewing angles are wide enough that you can share the tablet with a travel companion to watch a movie on Netflix or from the Android Marketplace. Colors pop and the display looks great while playing in the dark environments of Batman Arkham City on Onlive.
The display is a fingerprint magnet, so make sure you have a screen cleaning cloth at hand.
The Droid XYBOARD 10.1 may not have the quad-core processor found in the Transformer prime, but I didn’t run into any periods of sluggishness while using the tablet for entertainment and productivity, sadly the same could not be said for gaming.
Occasionally I had to wait for the Honeycomb operating system to catch up when jumping between settings or accessing the app switching interface, which got old fast. Motorola has issued an update to the XYBOARD tablet to improve performance and add global roaming, but my review unit has not yet updated.
The Netflix app allowed me to watch movies and TV shows without any issues, including streaming over 4G LTE so that I could enjoy my entertainment while I was on the move and without WiFi.
Grand Theft Auto III came out just recently for the XYBOARD, but it is definitely not ready for this tablet. Frames consistently dropped making the game unplayable and the app completely locked up the tablet at one point, forcing a power cycle. Madden 2012 performed better and looked good, but I wouldn’t count on this tablet for gaming unless you plan to use a service like Onlive.
Because the XYBOARD 10.1 has 4G LTE you can get speeds 10 times faster than the standard 3G connection found on the iPad. This means you can send files faster, upload videos faster, and as I mentioned enjoy your multimedia faster.
If you need to share the 4G LTE speeds with your laptop, the built-in mobile hotspot feature will let you share with up to 8 devices. The WiFi hotspot came in handy when my home Internet connection went down and I needed to upload a video to YouTube from my Mac Mini. The 4G LTE connection is several times faster for uploading than my Time Warner Cable connection.
The Droid XYBOARD 10.1 has a 7000 mAh battery which Motorola rates at about 10 hours of use. During my month with the tablet, I observed between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of use and a was able to leave the tablet in standby mode for several days without a noticeable dent in battery life.
Overall the battery life is adequate, considering the battery drain of 4G LTE.
The audio on the Droid XYBOARD 10.1 tablet is impressive. There are two small speakers on the back of the device that pump out music and movies at levels more than loud enough to fill a hotel room or for use without headphones at the beach or other outdoor area.
As I mentioned in my video review of the Droid XYBOARD above, I was able to use these speakers to entertain family at my in-laws over Christmas dinner and then turn it down low enough to lull our puppies to sleep later that night.
Tablets have cameras, but most of the time these cameras aren’t used to replace a point and shoot. If you don’t plan on printing the photos taken with the 5 MP rear facing camera or the 1.3MP front facing camera you’ll be OK.
The rear facing camera can record video and stills, and is good for capturing meeting notes and other random photos, but it is certainly not a camera I would rely on for taking pictures of a special event that you would want to pass down to your kids.
The sample photo taken indoors proves mediocre, but it is better than the iPad 2′s lackluster camera.
Outdoors the camera proved better, but I wouldn’t recommend using this as your primary camera in any setting.
Here’s a sample video shot in “High” mode outside.
The front facing camera performs well enough for video chats, and delivers a clear image thanks to the speedy 4G LTE connection.
The Droid XYBOARD 10.1 is running Android 3.2 Honeycomb, which means you won’t get the refinements of Android Ice Cream Sandwich. However, Motorola has promised that it is working on an update to Ice Cream Sandwich. Unfortunately there is no timeframe for the update.
The XYBOARD comes with a collection of apps pre-installed by Motorola and Verizon, fortunately most of them are useful and handy for consumers and business users.
Business users will appreciate the following apps;
- QuickOffice – Full version with support to create and edit popular office file types.
- Citrix Receiver - Access your files and desktop from your tablet.
- Polycom – Video meetings and conferences on your tablet.
- Go To Meeting – No more heading to your laptop to attend a online meeting, just enter the meeting info and join anywhere, even over 4G LTE.
Consumers will enjoy using a number of apps that are fun and handy around the house.
- MotoCast – This free app allows you to access your files and music on your computer on your Tablet anywhere you have an Internet connection.
- Dijit – Use the built-in IR blaster and Dijit to control your home theater with a universal remote control and TV guide in one.
- Evernote – Evernote is pre-installed so you can send notes you draw in the Floating notes app, but it does much more. Send anything you want to remember to Evernote to access it from any computer.
The XYBOARD has a collection of great pre-installed apps, but consumers will want to take note that apps like Hulu Plus are still missing for Android tablets.
The Droid XYBOARD 10.1 is $30 more than the iPad, which could leave some users immediately looking for Apple’s tablet, but in the long run $30 isn’t worth worrying about. THe XYBOARD 10.1 has many features that the $499 iPad does not; like 4G LTE connectivity, an IR blaster, usable cameras and a stylus without a soft tip.
The included apps for business users and speedy connection pair well with the build quality and in-hand feel to offer an attractive option for small business users, travelers and college students who need a tablet that offers more than a WiFi iPad at this price.
While $30 isn’t a big price difference, you will need to take into account the monthly cost of the XYBOARD 10.1, which adds up to $720 to $1920 over two years. Unlike the iPad WiFi+3G, you cannot turn your data plan on and off.
If you need a fast connection for your tablet, and all the apps you need for work and play are available on Android, the XYBOARD is worth the $529 asking price. Unfortunately not everyone will fit this category.
Droid XYBOARD 10.1 Gallery