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Apple iPad 2 Catches Up With Motorola XOOM Tablet

With the official release of the iPad 2 last week, Apple has managed to refresh its flagship product to provide a sensible match for rival tablets, including its most formidable one, the Motorola XOOM.

Comparing both of them is not as straight forward as it might seem because they both run under two completely different mobile operating systems; iOS 4.3 is a walled, closed platform while Android Honeycomb is an open source.

Android supports Flash but Apple has a much refined user interface and the new Nitro JS engine and significant enhancements like AirPlay enhancements, multitasking and better apps management are likely to give it the edge for a foreseeable future.

Hardware wise though, they are both very similar; The non-3G version of the iPad 2 weighs around 130g less than the XOOM with the 3G version coming in only at 613g. The iPad 2 is also slimmer than the XOOM by around a third which makes a difference when you try to lift the tablet with one hand.

Like most Honeycomb tablets, the XOOM adopted a 16:10, 10.1-inch, 1280x800 pixels screen resolution while the iPad 2 is sticking to a 4:3, 9.7-inch, 1024x768 pixels display. The XOOM can therefore display more pixels and can deliver movies without the need for resizing.

The hardware inside the iPad 2 is still a tad unknown (apart from what Apple has told us already); there's a dual core 1GHz Apple A5 processor with a graphics core that's nine times more powerful than the previous one (for a look at our prediction, check here).

The Motorola XOOM on the other side comes with an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core chip that's based on the Cortex A9. It comes with a number of custom Geforce graphics cores and like the A5 is clocked at 1GHz.

We're not sure how much RAM the iPad 2 has but the XOOM like the Atrix comes with 1GB. As for storage, the iPad 2 has either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB with no expansion option while the XOOM comes with 32GB and a microSD card slot which should allow it to expand to 64GB at least.

Both tablets comes with GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi but the XOOM has the upper hand as it offers USB as well as built in HDMI (you need an adaptor for the iPad 2).

The XOOM also offers superior cameras both for front and rear capture; the Apple iPad 2 sticks to models on the iPod Touch (HD ready at the back and VGA in the front) while the XOOM has a 5-megapixel model with flash at the back and a 2-megapixel one in the front.

When it comes to battery life, the XOOM again has a slight advantage with a quoted battery life of 10 hours for casual browsing and video, which increases to up to 14 hours when Wi-FI is switched off. The iPad 2 on the other side can manage around nine hours in 3G mode, slightly more without.

When it comes to pricing the Motorola XOOM is likely to win hands down because, like the Galaxy Tab, it is not the market leader; Apple will still sell loads of tablets at the current market price (£429 for the cheapest model and close to £700 for the most expensive one).

Both the iPad 2 and the XOOM will sell well because they are both great products and we believe it would be unfair to either to decide of a definitive winner.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.