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Hands on: Motorola Xoom 2

We get to try out the new, faster, lighter, slimmer update of the original Android Honeycomb tablet

The Motorola Xoom 2 is the all-new update to the what was arguably the first proper Android tablet – the Motorola Xoom. The company announced the 10.1in tablet today, alongside a smaller Motorola 8.2in Xoom Media Edition. Both are due for release in mid-november. We were at the launch event to get a hands on look at the new tablet.

Motorola Xoom 2

The new Xoom 2 takes its styling advice from the recently announced Android version of the Motorola RAZR. It has the same colour-scheme, tapered corners and super-slim dimensions. It’s smaller than the original in every dimension, measuring a slender 254x174x8.8mm, and weighing just 599g. All this puts makes it fractionally smaller overall than current favourite the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Motorola Xoom 2 edge

It feels equally impressive in terms of build quality too. we particularly like the slightly rubberised rear edges and the angled, inset buttons for power and volume.

Motorola Xoom 2 back

Speaking of holding the tablet the Xoom 2 has a clever new technology called Intelligent Grip Suppression. Basically the touchscreen can determine if your thumb is on the screen purely to give you a better grip of the device and discounts it for touch input. This means you can hold the tablet firmly in one hand and use the other hand to navigate wihtout it jumping into pinch-to-zoom mode. Very clever stuff, and it seems to work based on our quick test.

Inside the tablet is an upgraded 1.2GHz processor, which should make it faster than the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Alhtough we’ll have to wait to run our benchmarks to confirm that. It certainly felt smooth to use, or at least as smooth as the 3.5 Honeycomb version of Android ever does. An upgrade to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will be coming, but there’s no date yet.

Motorola Xoom 2 motocast

MotoCast also makes an appearance on Xoom 2

Motorola will pre-install its MotoCast app on the tablet, so you can view and download content from your PCs, for more details see our Motorola RAZR hands on. There’s also an optional stylus for this tablet (price unavailable), and a drawing app comes pre-installed so you can doodle over photos or a blank screen.

Motorola Xoom 2 stylus

The 1,280×800 display looked bright and crisp, and Motorola confirmed that it was an IPS panel. It certainly looked to be a match for recent models we’ve seen from Asus and Sony.

The pre-production model we saw had both SIM and memory card slots, however, the initial launch models will include neither of these. For the time being Motorola are only announcing a Wi-Fi only model with 16GB of built-in storage. We’re not bothered about the lack of 3G for now, but removing the card slot seems an odd choice, as its an easy way to add extra storage for little cost.

Motorola Xoom 2 slots

You won’t find these slots on the retail model

The new Motorola Xoom 2 will go on sale in mid-november at a retail price of £379 and will be available at Carphone Warehouse, Dixons, Currys and PC World. It looks to be a big contender for the best Android tablet, with no big flaws bar the missing memory card slot and a really good-looking screen and high build quality. We’ll bring you a full review as soon as possible.

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