Review: Speaker HD Dock for the Motorola XOOM tablet
Saturday, May 7, 2011 at 12:31PM
Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla in Accessories, Android apps, Buyers Guide, Canada, Chragers, Events and Launches, First Looks, Gadjo Sevilla, HDMI, HDTV, Mobile, Motorola XOOM speaker dock, Opinion, Peripherals, Public service, Tablets, micro USB

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Of all the recent tablet releases, the Motorola XOOM WiFi has distinguished itself as the dominant multimedia and video playback device. Credit this to its powerful 1GHz Tegra 2 dual-core processor, its HD recording (at 720p HD) and playback (at 1080p HD) graphics capability as well as that stunning (although distractingly reflective)  10.1" inch 1280x800 resolution screen. The Motorola XOOM also offers mini HDMI-out connectivity right out of the box which makes it convenient to take over any HDMI enabled screen or projector.

While all you really need is a third party ($12-$40) mini HDMI port to turn the XOOM into a high def video player, Motorola offers a more distinguished solution in the guise of a $129 Speaker HD Dock.

 The speaker dock does triple duty as a desktop charger, an HDMI-out connector and augmented set of external stereo speakers for those instances where the XOOM's built in speakers are too tinny or weak. Motorola touts the following feature benefits for the XOOM Speaker HD Dock.

There are a couple of issues with the Speaker HD Dock for the Motorola XOOM, the most evident being that it can only plug into the XOOM in landscape mode.

While one may argue that landscape mode is the preferred video viewing and web-surfing orientation for this tablet (also considering the video chat camera is similarly oriented for landscape deployment) it alienates anyone who'd like to type on the XOOM in portrait mode with an external keyboard.

Yes, you can type in landscape mode but it will limit the amount of already scant screen-space. We can only surmise that the Speaker HD Dock is simply for content consumption and doesn't get any brownie points for being a productivity peripheral.

The second problem we have with the dock is minor but still unsettling.

It simply isn't a drag-and-drop device.

Plunking the XOOM on to the speaker dock requires the precision in-air-refueling  to get connected. Since the Motorola XOOM has three connectors (microUSB, HDMI and AC) that go into the dock and ther isn't a good and secure way to lean it in, expect to fumble and possibly scratch the surface of the XOOM to get it docked.

It suddenly feels so backwards, specially if you consider that in 2010, we've seen affordable Wireless Charging solutions in effect. For $129, you just expect a bit more.

It is not all bad, however.

We like the Speaker HD Dock's sturdy build and solid feel, the speakers are not exceptional but do improve the playback experience and in our tests, the HD dock  seemed to charge the XOOM quite quickly. The HDMI-out component was flawless as we could output out XOOM's screen to a  $40" inch Sharp Quattron LED 3D without any problem and played back both standard definition and high definition web  and  .MKV and .MP4 file videos with very little issues. 

Still, we feel XOOM users will appreciate a dock that can manage both portrait and landscape orientations and we think that something that offered wireless connectivity and wireless charging a la PowerMat or WebOS's Touchstone technology would be more enticing, but it is what it is.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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