Motorola was one of the big winners of CES at the start of the year, with it being revealed as the lead OEM for Google's new tablet-optimised version of Android - Honeycomb. While it has had to share the limelight with a lot more competitors at MWC, Moto still looks set to have a great year in the mobile-device market.
We caught up with UK marketing director Tom Satchwell at the Moto stand (pictured), and started by asking him what the significance was to Moto of being the lead Honeycomb partner. "We're the producers of the first series of this equipment, which will be smooth and bug-free," he said. "Motorola contributed the most of any manufacturer to Honeycomb, so it's like comparing an Audi to a VW."
We got some hands-on time with the Xoom and got a taste not only of what the OS has to offer, but the power Tegra 2 brings to the tablet too. HD video and images look very nice, and scrolling between them in a gallery is smooth. Another bit of graphical gratification was the animation of page-turning in e-reader mode.
There is true multitasking, and background programmes/apps are always accessible by one of the permanent soft keys at the bottom of the screen. The graphics and interaction on the game we played were excellent and the Xoom has stereo speakers on the back, which give out good sound. On the whole we found it to be an impressive device and, if it's priced competitively, should provide an upgrade on the current iPad.
The aspect of the Atrix handset that wowed us the most was actually the peripherals Moto has made for it. There are two: a small dock with a number of ports and its own Linux OS, and a larger ‘dumb notebook' form-factor. In both cases the phone effectively functions as a PC, and we even saw it stream HD video to a large TV.
While Google has yet to apparently tell its partners, let alone the rest of us, when Honeycomb will be ready, we expect the Xoom to have a lot of company when it launches in April/May. But devices like the HTC Desire and the Samsung Galaxy S II have shown what an advantage it is to be an Android lead partner, and Moto has fallen on its feet in landing the 3.0 spot. Judging by what we saw today, the Xoom still looks like the most polished take on Honeycomb, and we expect it to sell well.