Motorola DROID XYBOARD 10.1 Hands-on and Unboxing

December 12, 2011
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This week (or last week, depending on your location), you're able to purchase not one, but two new Motorola tablets, each of them carrying the coveted "DROID" moniker in front of the word XYBOARD - what we've got here is the 10.1-inch version, the closest we'll get to a direct descendent of the original Honeycomb tablet, the Motorola XOOM. This tablet runs with Verizon's 4G LTE network for speed, a Texas Instruments OMAP4 1.2GHz dual-core processor under the hood, and has a lovely new form factor with soft black plastic and metallic-looking hard silver plastic. On the front there's one sheet of reinforced Gorilla Glass glass over this device's 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 pixel resolution LCD display.

This tablet is not the best at any one thing, it's thinness trumped ever so slightly by the Galaxy Tab 10.1, it's processor clobbered by the ASUS Transformer Prime, and its camera nowhere near the excellence of the HTC Jetstream. Of course the Prime wins all of these categories when it comes down to it, but the point is that the DROID XYBOARD only very clearly defeats the Motorola tablet it replaces: the XOOM. Verizon will likely get rid of their remaining XOOM stock and pack up the XYBOARDS as their hero DROID tablet, in doing so once again making the iPad look really, really nice.

If you have this tablet on its own, on the other hand, you'll have a pretty alright time using it. While I've recently had sort of a falling out with tablets because of their lack of applicability to the average person's everyday life, here a clear use rings out: professional industrial-grade computing. While the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has white plastic on the back and the original Galaxy Tab (still carried by Verizon, believe it or not) looks like a toy, the XYBOARD looks like the designers behind the bench wanted future users to feel like they were really working with a device that had quality hardware inside and out.

Just like there are people out there that refuse to own a Mac because they don't like to look fruity with a bright light logo at the back of their laptop, so too are there folks out there that want a tablet that doesn't scream "I BOUGHT THIS TO LOOK GOOD." This device instead keeps a classy low profile for the professional world. This device is also comfortable to hold and has a miniHDMI port (unlike most Verizon-carried tablets) so you can show off your work in class with a simple connection. For the iPad 2 to do such a thing, you need a special converter cord. You also have a SIM card slot for your tiniest of LTE cards -- unfortunately though, unlike the original XOOM, you've got no space to put a microSD card. Truly a bummer and a half.

You do get a microUSB port though for easy transfer of all your good data and such to and from your desktop computer (and for charging), and there's a headphone jack as all good modern devices aught to have. The display is reasonably bright, and certainly an improvement over the XOOM, but is, again, trumped by the Transformer Prime here as that tablet has such a bright display that your retinas will explode when you see it. Here we've got a perfectly bright display that'll work for all indoor conditions.

There's a pen stylus that comes with this tablet, it working quite well and pretty darn precise from what I've seen thus far. You've got to put an AAA battery in the tool to make it work, and you're given a leather/pleather holding case that can attach to your tablet in a slightly awkward manner if you want it to. Better yet, use this to attach the pen to your pants pocket instead - you'll look less like a dork. This pen appears to work on most applications as the tablet essentially picks up the stylus the same as your finger.

We'll be putting this monster through all the hurdles and tubes over the next few days in order that you get a good glimpse of what it means to own it. We've also got the 8.2-inch version getting reviewed by Cory, this rounding off your Motorola tablet experience for this upcoming season. And don't forget the 4G LTE speeds, too. Let it be known in the comments section below if there's anything you need to ask about this tablet!

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