Lightning Review: Two Weeks with the Motorola Xoom

Just before shoving off from Texas, I snatched up a Motorola Xoom.  I had the office iPad the week before, trying out apps and generally getting familiar with the tablet concept before I decided to jump at the Xoom.  Two weeks into having one, I’m glad I did.  I also think it was the right choice for me over the iPad 2.  I’ve never been an Apple follower and the Xoom gave me a chance to get a nice, solid tablet without having to become an Apple convert.

If you’re looking to buy one you may want to wait as they are sure to get cheaper and there will be plenty on the horizon.  However, if you must have one now, the Xoom is a sweet little piece of kit.  The dual core processor makes it fast.  Things like Google Earth are a feast for the eyes.  That and Google maps integration with the address book are really cool features.  Tap an address in your address book and Maps zooms right to it.  Browse a map of your neighborhood and tap a location to add it to your address book.  No more drawn out sessions of adding restaurants to your address book.  With the Xoom they’re easy to input and handy when you want to make a reservation.

Movies and pictures also look great on this thing.  Within 10 minutes of taking it out of the box, Little NH was staring in silly 720p home movies.  The bundled video editor seems to work well, too.  Oh, and the camera, it has a flash.  I had never seen anything like that before on  anything but a camera – not to mention, with one app, it doubles as a flashlight.

Connectivity is pretty great on wi-fi.  It transfers seamlessly from my home to work networks and back again at the end of the day.  The Android market is simple and has plenty of apps to keep you busy.  However, if you get bored there, you can always browse the selection at Amazon or AppBrain.  iTunes does not give you multiple market options.  That said, there aren’t a ton of apps available for the Android tablet form factor (most are for phones) but that is gradually changing.  Those that are made for tablets are really, really neat.

That brings me to the Xoom and kids.  It’s a match made in heaven.  I’ve spent the last two nights reading “books” with Little NH on this thing.  The “Little Critter” series is a reading teaching set of books that fill the screen and teach vocabulary and reading by tapping items on the page.  Very cool stuff.  And the games, I’m sure you can imagine.

Finally, there’s the office.  My calendar is synced on my Xoom as well as my work e-mail, personal e-mail, twitter feeds and everything else I need.  I take a lot of conference calls out of my office and in my boss’ office so it’s nice when someone says, “I just sent you the document,” I actually have it in front of me.  It reads PDF’s as well as Word and Excel docs with ease.  In addition, when the meeting gets long, I’ve got Angry Birds to help me make it to the end.

So, I know I bought this tablet at the top of the market.  For that, I had my reasons.  I also know that I have yet to feel the pangs of buyer’s remorse and in the scheme of product life cycles these days, I’d say two weeks is pretty good.

Gone Fishin’

It was a pretty awesome Texas day on Thursday. Highs were in the 80’s with some fast-moving clouds overhead.  So, Little NH and I headed to Wal-Mart to pick up her very first fishing pole.  She passed on the Disney Princess pole and went for the Dora the Explorer model instead.  Not a move I would have predicted but such is life as a father of two girls.

After the trip to Wal-Mart, we met Mrs. NH and NH2 for a tasty outdoor lunch at Los Cucos.  I had a margarita and enjoyed the sunny day with my girls.  Little NH2 had plenty of shade and slept through the whole meal, seemingly smug from having gained 4 oz over the last 48 hours.

After that, we all came home and took a nap as a Texas rainstorm blew in and scattered as quickly as it came.  When little NH awoke, we tied on the Dora practice plug and threw a few casts in the backyard.  With the concept firmly down, we hit the lake in the subdivision where we’re staying.  The whole family.  Yep, little breastfeeding baby and all.

Little NH is generally a lucky kid.  On her first time playing the arcade “claw” game with me she won a stuffed dinosaur.  On her first trip fishing, her luck was mixed.  She caught something on her 3rd cast.  Unfortunately, it was a turtle.  Lucky for her dad, he slipped off the hook about a foot from the dock.  Little NH was momentarily crestfallen and I was relieved.  After that expedition, we made the requisite excited calls to the grandparents and went to sleep dreaming of more fish to come.

On day two, Friday, we stacked the deck in our favor of packing a wheat bagel as bait as well as the can of corn we had used the day before.

I mentioned that Little NH is lucky a couple paragraphs above, right?  Well get a load of these numbers: 5 casts, 3 hooks, 2 weights, one bagel, one snapping turtle, one 3″ crappie and one 16″ largemouth bass.

It was an exciting 45 minutes before the sun went down, I’ll tell you.  You should have seen the way the Dora rod bowed in two as we hauled in the fat ‘ol bass.  The folks canoeing on the lake and sitting outside their houses shared in our elation by saying, “Wow, that’s a big fish!”  “It’s only the second one she’s ever caught,” I yelled back.

Much like catching the big dinosaur with the claw on her first try, this experience is going to be tough to top.  That said, I think we both look forward to a lifetime of trying.