Sunday, March 20, 2011

iPad2 vs Xoom - Internet browsing

This article compares the Internet browsing experience on the two devices (Xoom running Honeycomb 3.0.1 vs iPad2 running iOS4.3), in the following 7 categories:

The quick control system on Honeycomb browser allows you to go back, forward, refresh, bookmark and other actions using your thumb when holding the tablet. This is not a default setting. User will need to enable it in the settings. Once enabled, the action bar will disappear and thus give you more real web page display. You can popup an action menu by swiping either of your thumbs from edge. The popup menus will display where your thumbnail swipes and is arranged around the thumb so that you can easily click an item.

On iPad2, you move your hand to click on the buttons on the top.

Winner: Xoom

Multitab Browsing
On iPad2, to switch between tabs, you have to click the tabs button then chose a tab from the new tab grid view, this is a bit cumbersome especially if you are familiar with multi-tab browsing on a full pc/mac browser. On honeycomb, tabs are always displayed on the top just like they are on a desktop browser and switching tabs is a 1-click thing.
Also, Xoom has 1GB memory while iPad2 has 512MB, whether this translates to more tabs supported on Xoom is yet subject to test.

Winner: Xoom

The touch screen keyboard on iPad2 is designed for a phone (just like the whole OS) and thus not suitable for the bigger tablet layout. Typing on it is even slower than typing on iphone, basically you are forced to type a full size keyboard using one finger. On honeycomb, you can download the thumb keyboard input method from market (free). This soft keyboard layout the keys around the bottom left and right corner so that you can type using both thumbs while holding the tablet with both hand, pretty much like when you type on smart phone with both thumbs, and thus achieve the same typing speed.

Winner: Xoom

Screen real estate
Xoom has a higher resolution 1280x800 comparing to ipad2's 1024x768. This means Xoom displays more content than iPad 2 when viewing the same page.

Winner: Xoom

Color Rendering
iPad2 is the clear winner in this category due to the superior IPS screen it's using while Xoom is using TFT which is common on laptops. Basically Xoom gives you the same color as normal laptop, while iPad2 gives you the color as on macs.

Winner: iPad2

Xoom supports Flash while iPad2 doesn't. It means there a great number of websites that xoom can visit normally while iPad2 simply can't. According to a survey done in 2008 , somewhere between 30% and 40% of all pages tested contained Flash files. Most popular websites already started to provide versions compatible to iPad, but it could be annoying when you bump into one that doesn't.

Winner: Xoom

According to several tests, when both on the same wifi network, Honeycomb browser on Xoom is on par with if not slightly faster than safari on iPad2. However, when without Wifi availability, Xoom will be able to work on the LTE 4G network (after the coming free upgrade from Motorola) while iPad2 can only work on the slower 3G network.

For now: tied, Winner in the near future: Xoom