Tablet Faceoff: Motorola’s Xoom vs. Apple’s iPad 2

By now, you’ve no doubt seen countless reviews and comparisons of the Motorola Xoom and Apple iPad 2. They talk about the size, the weight, the features, etc. and post galleries of images and embedded software development for your viewing pleasure. By all means, they are certainly providing helpful information.

That said, I want to compare the two from a productivity standpoint. I want to take a look at the two devices and answer the following question: Which device will allow you to be more productive while on the go?

In order to accomplish this, I’ll be looking at three distinct areas:

1. Tech Specs: Battery life, speed, screen size, etc
2. Usability: Interface design, intuitiveness, etc
3. Compatibility & Expandability: Will it work with my system?

Tech Specs:

The Xoom and iPad 2 aren’t drastically different when it comes to hardware. Both devices have a screen size of ~10” (though the Xoom has a higher resolution), both are running dual-core 1GHz processors, both have front & rear facing cameras, both feature batteries that will last all day, and both share similar dimensions & weight. When it comes down to it, neither device is especially better than the other in terms of tech specs. The Xoom’s screen resolution is a bit higher, its cameras are a bit better, and it will soon support 4G speeds and Adobe Flash. The iPad 2 is thinner, lighter, has higher built-in storage options, sells for less money, and is available on multiple networks.

The Verdict: From a technical specification standpoint, the devices are quite similar when considering mobile productivity. They both offer large screens, they’re both quite portable, and they both have plenty of power to run your mobile office. Everything else aside, it really comes down to personal preference.

Usability:

I am quite impressed with how far Android has come lately. Many of the features found in Android 3.0 are impressive, and the level of customization the device allows is great. Widgets offer at-a-glance information, the freedom to arrange home screens at will allows better organization. Overall, with a small investment of time, the Xoom can be setup to make you extremely efficient on the go. However, it feels surprisingly slow when compared to iOS 4.3 on the iPad 2 – and that’s saying something. I would never have called the Xoom slow before, but setting them side by side shows just how well Apple has optimized their iOS to take advantage of the hardware.

The iPad 2 does not introduce many new features when it comes to usability, but rather optimizes existing ones.  Everything feels even faster than before. Anything that involved more intensive graphics power simply screamed on the iPad. Early testing seems to agree that the iPad 2 is around 2x faster than the Xoom when it comes to graphics power. As a result, everything the iPad does quickly it does beautifully as well, with smooth animations and transitions. It is clear that Apple has invested a lot of time perfecting the experience. This unique experience often translates into a higher level of productivity.

The Verdict: It’s a close call, again. Many users will prefer the level of customization and organization that the Xoom offers. Being highly organized is a crucial part of being productive on the go. On the other hand, the speed that the iPad 2 manages to handle everything you throw at it easily makes up for its more basic organization options.

Compatibility:

Android sets up via Google. iOS, via iTunes. The different setups mean different levels of compatibility, whether with other devices or programs. That said, it’s the apps that can make all the difference.

The iPad 2 supports all existing iOS apps right out of the box. Essentially, if your setup works on an iPhone, iPad 1, or iPod Touch, it will work just fine on the iPad 2. The Xoom has a little catching up to do in this area, simply due to the fact that it’s the first tablet with Honeycomb. Since Honeycomb is the first official tablet version of Android, the platform has some catching up to do. That said, existing Android apps work (even if they’re not optimized for the tablet) and, as such, the Xoom supports most existing Android solutions.

At the end of the day, the more popular solutions will work just fine. For example, DejaOffice works great on both the iPad 2 and the Xoom. A quick install of the app is all it takes to start getting all your contacts, calendars, tasks, and memos over to the tablet.

The Verdict: The iPad 2 wins when it comes to sheer numbers, but the Xoom and Android are quickly catching up.

So Where Does This Leave Us?

It’s actually a close call. Both the Xoom and the iPad 2 have their strengths. So what tablet should you get? Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but in my opinion the winner is the iPad 2. The Xoom is a great product with its powerful customization options and 4G data speeds, and Android 3.0 will only continue to get better. However, I’d have to say that overall the iPad 2 is simply the best tablet currently available. With it’s incredible speed, sleek Apple design, lightweight form factor, and intuitive UI, it has set the bar high for mobile productivity in the tablet market and has left competitors playing catch-up.

Of course, that’s my opinion – I’d love to hear yours in the comments!

Do You Own Your Data?

If Google were to completely shut down right now, would you lose anything? There’s no doubt that many of use would lose thousands of important contacts, calendars, emails, and more! In fact, many of us would be left digitally crippled, with irreplaceable information suddenly gone.

Of course, nobody is expecting this to happen. Then again, 3 years ago few Sidekick users would say they expected their service to disappear either. Unfortunately, T-Mobile recently confirmed that on May 31st all Sidekick services will, in fact, be shut down. When this occurs, Sidekick users will no longer have access to the cloud-based system that defined their devices. Users will no longer be able to access their contacts, calendars, notes, and more. Of course, T-Mobile will be offering solutions for migrating this data to other devices, so all is not lost. However, the news brings up an important point: Owning your data is crucial!

While this may not have been true 3 years ago, I’d be willing to bet that many Sidekick users have come to expect this news more recently. Gmail users, on the other hand, don’t expect to lose their data at any time. But that is exactly what happened just a few days ago. Thousands of Gmail users woke up to an empty inbox. While their data has since been restored (thanks to Google’s redundant backup system), many were without access to important information for days. A hit like that can have a serious effect on your productivity, especially if you rely on services like these for work.

All this said, I don’t want to say cloud-based services are bad. On the contrary, I believe they can be amazingly useful. What is bad, however, is entrusting them with the only copy of your data, because at that point it’s not really your data! In order to access it, you need to be connected to the cloud. In the event of service downtime, you are without access to your data. If you can’t access something when you want to, do you really own it?

Whether you decide to simply back up the information or sync your data to another source, I highly recommend taking the steps necessary to make a copy of your cloud-based data. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but if you do you’ll be extremely grateful for the offline copy! So what are you waiting for? Choose to own your data!

Sync the Motorola Xoom with Your PC

Motorola recently released their latest Android-powered tablet, the Xoom. The Xoom is available from Verizon and runs on Wi-Fi as well as the Verizon’s 3G and 4G/LTE networks. Sporting a dual-core processor, Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), a 10.1” widescreen HD display, and more, the Motorola Xoom has a lot to love, but it unfortunately lacks an easy way to sync with Microsoft Outlook and other PC applications.

Image Credit: Verizon Wireless

Using CompanionLink it is now possible to sync contacts, calendar, tasks and notes between the Xoom and PC software such as Microsoft Outlook, ACT! by Sage, Palm Desktop, Lotus Notes and more. You can sync via local WiFi, Secure Hosted wireless sync, or wirelessly via Google. At this time, our wired USB sync is not available as Android 3.0 does not currently support SD storage. This is an issue we anticipate will be resolved fairly quickly. In the meantime, we recommend local WiFi sync as the closest alternative to wired USB sync.

Find more info, as well as a 14-day free trial, at https://www.companionlink.com/phones/moto-xoom.html

The Motorola Atrix 4G – Phone, Media Center, & Laptop

Image credit: AT&TThe Motorola Atrix 4G, the phone that won widespread admiration at CES 2011, was released to the public on AT&T’s network yesterday. To say that this is just another Android phone would be an understatement. In addition to being one of the few phones to support the new 4G networks, the Atrix features the unique ability to transform itself into a powerful media center or laptop via a series of peripheral docks.

The multimedia dock is more play than work, allowing users to easily connect their Atrix to their TV and enjoy videos, music, and more. While that is likely to be a popular feature among home theater enthusiasts, I’d like to focus more on the second docking option: the laptop dock. The laptop dock allows Atrix users to connect the phone to a lightweight laptop frame. This then runs a “web-top” application, allowing users to harness the productivity of the laptop form, all from their mobile phone. In theory, this could drastically improve your productivity on the go. While you don’t save much space when compared to carrying around a phone and tablet/small laptop, you do benefit from having everything easily accessible on one device. It may sound like a small thing, but it can have a huge impact on your mobile productivity!

The laptop dock is something we have not yet seen from any other mobile phone, and it certainly has the potential to change the way we work while on the go. However, it remains to be seen just how well it works in the real world. Initial reviews generally praise the phone, but suggest skipping the laptop dock. They state that, while the concept is widely adored, the actual application is a bit clunky and too expensive. That said, this is merely version 1. The technology has a lot of room to advance, get faster, and come down in price.

With tablets already changing they way we work on the go, do you think the unique docking features of the Atrix have a chance to put a dent in the popularity of the tablet? Or will they simply manifest as marketing gimmicks that ultimately die out?

Note: Are you looking to sync the Motorola Atrix 4G with Outlook or another popular personal information manager? We have you covered: check out ComplanionLink for PC and DejaOffice for Android!

HTC Inspire Brings 4G to AT&T Customers, Mobile Productivity Wins

Image courtesy of AT&T: https://www.att.com/inspire4G

Yesterday, AT&T began selling the HTC Inspire 4G. The Inspire features a massive 4.3” super LED display – the largest of any phone on AT&T’s network – and runs the latest iteration of the HTC Sense UI, all for $99 (after a 2-year agreement). It also marks a number of firsts for AT&T:

  • It is the first 4G phone on their network
  • It is the first device to run Android 2.2 on AT&T
  • It is the first device to make use of the new Mobile Hotspot application

The HTC Inspire brings an impressive list of features that are sure to be a hit among new phone buyers. I could dedicate an entire post just to those features. However, I’d like to focus on one specific feature: 4G. With the increasing amount of work done on while the go, the speed of your mobile device’s wireless connection becomes more and more important.

As I was writing this post, I decided to run a speed test on my 3G device. The result? I got a little over 1mbps down. To put that in perspective, most home internet connections are at least 10x faster. For downloading a small document or photo, 1mbps is does just fine. However, when downloading large documents with charts and graphics or high-resolution photos for work, you’ll often find yourself waiting for as long as a few minutes, depending on your signal quality. It may not seem like much, but over time it adds up and eats away at your productivity.

The obvious question in all of this is, of course, what does 4G mean when compared to 3G? The answer depends on whom you ask. At the end of the day, “4G” is merely a label. What it really means is that mobile data connection speeds are constantly improving – and when your mobile productivity relies on the ability to access data quickly, that is what truly matters!

Note: Are you looking to sync the HTC Inspire 4G with Outlook or another popular personal information manager? We have you covered: check out ComplanionLink for PC and DejaOffice for Android!

The Future of Mobile Computing

Recently, DejaOffice was featured on the IT Management blog Datamation for being among the top 50 free iPad apps for business. We’re thrilled to be on this list, and I recommend you read through it as there are quite a few great apps mentioned! Reading over the article myself, I started thinking about just how far mobile computing has come and where it is heading.

The iPad, for example, offers access to thousands of apps while maintaining an ultra-portable form factor and featuring intuitive touchscreen inputs. As such, I believe that tablets are signaling a paradigm shift for mobile productivity. In my own use, I have found myself using the iPad for things I used to do on the computer or avoided doing on my smaller smartphone screen. For example, if I need to edit or review a document while I am on the go I can simply open it on the iPad, make any necessary comments or edits, and e-mail it off. I am generally able to interact with my iPad more quickly and efficiently than with my smartphone, making me more productive while mobile. I could go on, but the point is simple: I now have a device that gives me the power I need with the mobility I want.

What’s more amazing, however, is the fact that a device like the iPad has only been out for one year. Think about just how far cell phones have come in the last 5 years. If cell phone technology has advanced that far in a few years, just imagine where tablets will go! It is truly an exciting future to think about.

Welcome To The iPhone, Verizon

Today is the day that many Verizon customers have been waiting for. The Apple iPhone officially went on sale for pre-order on the Verizon network at 3am EST today. While the iPhone has been available for a few years, today marks the first day that US customers have a service option other than AT&T.

Sync with iPhone

As a happy iPhone user myself, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the many Verizon customers who will soon be getting their first iPhone. One of the first things you’ll likely be doing is heading in to the App Store to start downloading apps. As you’ll soon discover, there are many great apps to install. I personally recommend downloading Dropbox, Dragon Dictation, and Kik Messenger, to name a few. That said, I’d like to focus on one app specifically: our very own DejaOffice. DejaOffice is designed to enhance the iPhone experience for business customers. With DejaOffice, you gain access to business-class contact, calendar, note, and task management. A detailed list of features is available at www.dejaoffice.com. These features make all the difference for business people who are looking to stay productive while on the go.

DejaOffice works great as a stand-alone app. However, many business people have spent time carefully nurturing customer databases they’ve built up over the years. They need a way to get their customer info on their new iPhone.

That’s why we built DejaOffice!

It works seamlessly with CompanionLink. When paired with the CompanionLink application for PC, DejaOffice will sync data with many of the most popular database systems available, including Microsoft Outlook, ACT!, Palm Desktop, Lotus Notes, and more.

DejaOffice [iTunes link] is currently a free app on the iTunes App Store. CompanionLink is a PC application available as a 14-day trial: https://www.companionlink.com/products/.

Switching from BlackBerry to Android

Thinking about making the switch?  You’re not alone.

There are at least 300,000 new Android activations every day!  The Nielson Company has some lovely graphs that show Android dwarfing both iPhone and RIM (BlackBerry) in terms of growth in the past 6 months.

But many BlackBerry owners are worried to make the switch.

  • Will I get secure email?
  • Will I get the same level of productivity that my BlackBerry gives me?
  • What happens to my beloved keyboard?
  • Is Android really ready for my business data?

Here’s a free reference guide that answers these and other questions.  It does three things:

  1. Walk you through the pitfalls of migrating from BlackBerry to Android
  2. Educate you about what busiuness capablities Android devices do and don’t do well
  3. Advise which third-party apps to download to achieve the most business productivity

CompanionLink releases DejaOffice 1.1.4 for iPhone and iPad

The newest release of DejaOffice for Apple devices is now available on the App Store. DejaOffice is a contact manager app suite with business-class calendar, contacts, tasks and notes apps. New features in this release include:

* Added support for multiple contact categories.
* Added support for custom contact fields.
* Added Franklin style priorities for tasks.
* Added support for synching TBYL tasks and events from Outlook (requires CompanionLink build 4029 or higher).
* Added new interface for creating/editing tasks. New interface adds fields for contact links, Start Date, Completion Percentage, Status, and Location.
* Added Title field for DejaNotes.
* Added support for syncing DejaNotes via Secure Hosted Sync (requires CompanionLink build 4029 or higher).
* Improved list views for all apps.

 

You can download the free update direct from the App Store. More information is available at dejaoffice.com

* Added support for multiple contact categories.

* Added support for custom contact fields.

* Added Franklin style priorities for tasks.

* Added support for synching TBYL tasks and events from Outlook (requires CompanionLink build 4029 or higher).

* Added new interface for creating/editing tasks. New interface adds fields for contact links, Start Date, Completion Percentage, Status, and Location.

* Added Title field for DejaNotes.

* Added support for syncing DejaNotes via Secure Hosted Sync (requires CompanionLink build 4029 or higher).

* Improved list views for all apps.

DejaOffice 1.9 now available on the Android Market

CompanionLink is excited to announce the release of DejaOffice 1.9. This new update features a setup wizard designed to configure your sync with DejaOffice quickly and painlessly. The update also includes priority styles for tasks – you can now manage your tasks with Outlook-style, Palm-style, or Franklin Covey-style priorities. In addition, there are many small usability changes throughout the app.

DejaOffice 1.9 includes:

  • An onboard Setup Wizard to help configure PC sync with Android in under 2 minutes
  • Priority styles for tasks – Outlook Style, Palm Style, Alpha (Franklin Covey) Style
  • Wi-Fi sync with PC using CompanionLink
  • Easy call and text message buttons in the contacts view
  • Calendar year-view
  • Contact pictures

To download the free update, visit www.dejaoffice.com or search for “DejaOffice” in the Android Market.