Saturday, May 12, 2012

Motorola Xoom

I got my hands on a Motorola Xoom to play around with.
It came from a disappointed friend that has trouble setting up the tablet just the way he likes and so stated that if I couldn't make it better he had no use for it.


Naturally I jumped at the opportunity to reconfigure the device and make it more user friendly for my friend.

His main issues were:
  1. He doesn't know what to do with the device other than browse the net, check mail and use it as an expensive photo album.
  2. When uploading Hebrew songs (when the file name is written in Hebrew),  the text on the tablet is garbled.
  3. He cant figure out how to upload and view movies and TV series on the tablet.
I decided to go at it in reverse.

Movies
The Motorola Xoom by default seems to only support H.263, H.264 and MPEG4 formats.
The fix to that is fairly simple, install a player that supports more formats.
I choose to use the MX Player which can play most formats and is pretty simple to use. In order for it to work though you need to download the MX Player Codec as well.
After doing so I had no problems playing AVI and MKV files.




Hebrew  
It seems that the problem was the encoding that Windows Media Player uses. All the id3 tags on the files were saved as Windows Hebrew code-page (1255) which is unreadable on the Xoom device (is there a solution ?).
The solution is changing the encoding to Unicode.






Since i couldn't find a single  application that modifies code-pages for multiple files and directories (I really should write one), I used foobar2000 with the Chacon plugin for the modification.Once done i re-uploaded to the Xoom and it worked perfectly.
This was simple for me but I don't think a regular user would appreciate the work around.
A simple tutorial can be found here.


Pimping the device
The first thing you usually need to do for pimping the device is getting it rooted and then choose a ROM for your tablet. In this case I chose not to root the device as I wanted it to return to the owner as standard as possible since he was not a power user.

What i did was:

Update the tablet
Go to Apps -> settings -> about -> System Updates.

Allow installation of APK files not from the Market
Go to Apps -> settings -> Security -> Unknown Sources checked.

Install Astro File Manager
Go to the market find Astro File Manager and to a regular install
Once you have the Astro File Manager set up you can install your apps from the APK file on are not limited to downloading from the android market.

Folders
After installing a few needed applications, folders were needed to keep things neat.
To create folder simple drag two icons on top one another. To add another app simply drag it also to that folder. Name the folders according to the order you created (Games, Media, news etc. )

Conclusion
Connectivity to the device is extremely easy however transferring content to the device can be confusing to the novice user. I can believe I'm actually going to say it but an iTunes interface would be much better.

The device runs smoothly and I didn't get any application crashes that I have on my iPad1.
Android tablets support flash that lack on apple devices but loading flash games I realized that most were not intended for tablet use and need a mouse control to be fun and easy.

The power button is on the back of the device. Which is very unintuitive after getting used to the iPad.

One thing it has that the iPads don't is an external memory option, Yay !!

I found the Motorola Xoom to be a great tablet for the geeky user.
The tablet doesn't exceed the iPad2 and is expensive so I wouldn't recommend it for novice users.
The iPad is still in the lead, at least until I check out the Xoom 2.

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