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Motorola Xoom beats the iPad 2 on many features

Today, the iPad 2 came out. It is a beautiful device -- thin, fast, light, and a bright and shiny 9.7-inch screen that glitters straight in the eyes. But the iPad's problems start with its software, iOS 4.3, which is a one-trick pony.

The iOS 4.3 operating system has very little connection to online services (which are also called cloud). Android 3.0 has integrated Gmail, Google Docs, Google Maps and other online services, which makes tablets like Xoom much better.

Internet-based services and storage will be critical as more mobile devices are used. Apple has pulled its MobileMe cloud service, so it literally has no answer to Google's vast array of cloud services. Apple's applications have to reside on the device, but iOS has more apps at its disposal.

Tablets with Android 3.0 literally take the game away with Flash support, which brings more online videos to tablets. Apple has trashed Flash publicly as being buggy, and could never support the platform on its devices. That's a bummer for graphic designers, who need Flash support.

Also, will users have freedom to download any application they want? The policing of Apple's App Store makes application availability limited, and there are too many rules to follow. There is more freedom in Android, and users have more choice. But I must say, I love the idea of FaceTime. Android devices can't match that feature.

But people buy tablets for the hardware, not software. Apple's iPad 2 is virtually unbeatable on price and size. The processing power is similar on the iPad 2 and Motorola's Xoom, both of which have dual-core processors. Xoom may have better graphics, but the iPad 2 is no slouch -- both can play full HD video.

The iPad 2 starts at $499 with WiFi, with prices ranging to $829 with 3G and Wi-Fi. The Xoom prices start at $600 with a two-year mobile broadband contract with a wireless carrier, and costs $800 with no strings attached. The Xoom will support 4G later, while the iPad won't, for now atleast.

So for me it comes down to battery life and software. The iPad 2 has longer battery life, but the Xoom has better software. I'd perhaps go for the Xoom as I know I'll perhaps be saving money over the short-term compared to the iPad, which slowly can drill money out of your pocket as you download app after app from Apple's App store and song after soon from the iTunes store.