Monday, January 10, 2011

Motorola Xoom best gadget at 2011 CES

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is always a fascination for me. It has long been a professional fantasy for me to go and see the latest technology gadgets. If you don't follow this show, its the big one of the year where everyone (but Apple) comes to show off the news products.

I could have guessed that this year tablets computers and new smart phones would be headliners, and they were. I think 3D TVs still have a way to go, at least in my family room. On college campuses we have not seen too many tablet computers just yet. When we do here about them, it is always the Apple iPad. The field has gotten much more competitive now. Lots of cool options.

I was surprised to see that the Motorola Xoom got best gadget in show at CES this year. This is a pretty big deal. I have to say that the Xoom looks a great deal like the iPad. Its market right now seems to be purely mobile with a focus on 3G and later 4G models, rather than WiFi. This is likely add costs for most early adopters because you may need to add this to your mobile telephone charges. Unless you have an unlimited data plan. Check with your provider for details. Once it comes out as a WiFi model, you will be able to use it at any hotspot.

The Xoom runs on the Android Honeycomb operating system like many of the new entries into the tablet market. It is the first Android OS to be designed for the tablet. It offers a 10.1 inch screen with an HD display. It also allows for multi-tab browsing and can utilize Adobe Flash 10.1, which the iPad cannot do, yet. You have to love the way it integrates Google Maps and other Google products. You can see a short video about it at this link.

Although pricing has not come out yet, it is likely to be in the same price range as the iPad ($500 to $700). It will be available in the first quarter of 2011. I have to wonder if we will see tablets all over campus in the next several months. Its a little pricey to have a second computer, but these are light, have incredible displays, and might be the right tool for note taking and Internet activity in the classroom. Student's have already told us that they don't like to carry full sized laptops around campus. Laptops are said to be too heavy and might be damaged or stolen. I think students will be going with a device like this or a smart phone, or both. The tablet and the smart phone are better mobile devices than the laptop. Although for serious work (writing, graphics, creating presentations, editing video or audio) I prefer a laptop or even a desktop computer. There are certainly many exciting options coming out.

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