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Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) review

Google's powerful new Honeycomb tablet OS takes on iOS 4.3

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Our Verdict

A powerful and fast OS for tablets, it looks closer to what you'd expect in the modern computing age. A few problems still exist, but are relatively easy to overlook.

For

  • Best tablet browser
  • Adobe Flash support
  • Exceptional mapping tech
  • Fast for most apps and games
  • Great email client

Against

  • Poor app selection for tablets
  • No movie or TV show rentals
  • No custom UI like HTC Sense
  • Few games
  • Some infrequent crashes

Performance and optimisation

For those thinking about whether an Android 3.0 tablet makes sense, know this: Google has designed the operating system for speed. We performed countless tests with the included apps to see if we could get them to stall or stutter, and these bundled Android 3 apps were very stable (the Motorola Xoom did cause a few third party apps to crash though so the platform is not totally bug free).

android 3.0 angry birds
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For finger swipes, Android is amazingly fluid. We had no trouble getting the Xoom to register our swipes on the Gallery app looking through photos, browsing websites or playing games like Angry Birds.

If anything, we wondered at times if the Android interface is just a hair faster and smoother than the iPad 2. It is certainly more colourful and the screen resolution, at 1280 x 800, is clearer.

The Xoom works well as a hardware platform for Android 3.0, but we did notice some differences compared to iOS. One is that, the iPad 2, running on the Apple A5 dual-core processor, seems to take advantage of the two cores better for video and music editing.

android 3 movie editing
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The Xoom doesn't really appear to be adding any performance boost to Android when you do movie editing, and there is no multi-track audio editor. In fact, the Movie Studio app seems to be the one app that tends to run slowly on the device.

android 3.0 settings
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Android 3.0 does offer some good power saving options, though. You can quickly disable wireless networks using an Airplane Mode setting. And you can crank down the screen brightness, accessible from the setting pop-up on the lower left. You can also set the tablet to dim the screen after a very short interval – as little as 15 seconds. It's not exactly practical, but it is available.