The roster of Honeycomb-wielding tablets has significantly increased since Motorola’s original Xoom entered the tablet arena back in March, with fierce competition in the form of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer taking the fight straight to Moto’s corner. With the Amazon Kindle Fire set to hit our shores next year and Apple’s unstoppable iPad 2 still confidently fending off the Android onslaught, we take a look at what the Motorola Xoom 2 brings to the hard-hitting competition.

Motorola Xoom 2 – build and design

At only 9mm thick and 2g lighter than the iPad 2, the Xoom 2 boasts a refreshingly angular-cornered design and feels solid, with nary a creak or flex to be found. The power and volume buttons on the device’s rear give the Xoom 2 a cleaner look, though having to lift it off a table to access them is a bit of a pain. Like the RAZR, the tablet’s insides are covered in a splash-guard coating for life’s little mishaps.

Motorola Xoom 2 – screen

The Xoom 2’s 10.1in Gorilla Glass screen has the same 16:9 aspect ratio as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 8.9, so it’s best suited to landscape use – the reduced portrait width makes for a comfortable dual-thumb typing experience. Colours are vivid, yet warm, and watching movies with a friend shouldn’t be a problem thanks to acute viewing angles, though backlight bleeding may slightly spoil the show.

Motorola Xoom 2 – performance and power

Disappointingly the Xoom 2 doesn’t ship with any Ice Cream Sandwich goodness, but a confirmed update is on the way. In the meantime, the 1.2Ghz dual-core processor happily powers through Honeycomb’s apps and 3D games without stutter, although a noticeable delay in switching between portrait and landscape orientations mars the overall impression of fluidity. There’s also a risk that the spec sheet will begin to look dated when quad-core offerings like the Asus Transformer Prime hit our shores early next year.

Motorola Xoom 2 – media

With just 16GB of non-expandable storage, Motorola is hedging its bets on the included Motocast software, which allows you to access media from your PC via your Wi-Fi connection. Installation is easy and music and videos streamed smoothly on our local network. The 5MP camera serves up decent snaps and although video is a little grainy, it’s hardly a deal-breaker considering the awkwardness of wielding any tablet as an imaging device.

Motorola Xoom 2 – browsing

The Xoom 2’s tabbed browser with flash support should meet the needs of most armchair surfers, although we were disappointed with the slow scrolling speeds, slightly clunky pinch-to-zoom and occasional ‘popping-in’ of already loaded images while scrolling. Although pages loaded fast enough, we’re hoping the Ice Cream Sandwich update will fix some of the lag and make the browser a bit more graceful.

Motorola Xoom 2 – verdict

The Motorola Xoom 2 may only have a minimal bump in specs over its predecessor but it offers up a solid Android experience with a unique design among a sea of round-edged rectangular clones. For many, its £380 sticker price coupled with a guaranteed Ice Cream Sandwich update will be all the incentive required to snap one up. For others, the impending battle calls of powerful quad-core tablets like the Asus Transformer Prime will make patience the best policy.

Stuff says... 

Motorola Xoom 2 review

A solid Android experience, impressive build and and the promise of Android 4.0, but clunky browsing lets the Xoom 2 down