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Motorola XOOM Display is “Low-end” and “Poorly Calibrated” According to DisplayMate Showdown

Dr. Raymond Soneira is the guru of all things display, so when he drops a comparison or digs deep into a device, we tend to listen.  He just published his comparison of the Motorola XOOM, Asus Transformer and iPad2 which are more than likely the top 3 selling tablets on the market right now and had some not-so-pleasant things to say about the flagship Honeycomb device.  The results came out favorable for both the Transformer and iPad2, but the XOOM is another story altogether.  

Here is the quick version of his conclusion on the XOOM:

The display on the Motorola Xoom is a lower performance LCD than on the other Tablets, compounded by poor factory calibration. Colors and color saturation were much worse than the other displays. The Xoom screen has 49 percent higher ambient light reflectance than the iPad 2 and the variation with Viewing Angle is awful. The Xoom also has a Dynamic Backlight that varies the screen brightness in a peculiar fashion – it slowly dims the screen based on the Average Picture Level down to about 60 percent and then just stops. It makes dim images dimmer – it’s counterproductive and just strange display behavior… The other Tablet displays have standard Backlights, which don’t vary the brightness with picture content.

He continues on, even mentioning the “outstanding” display from the original DROID:

…the Asus Transformer, which delivers very good performance across the board and comes in a solid second, all the more impressive because it is $100 cheaper than the iPad 2 and $200 cheaper than the Motorola Xoom. And finally, the Motorola Xoom comes in a distant third and last place – it’s not a horrible display but definitely significantly below the display quality of the iPad 2 and Asus Transformer. This is all the more surprising because the Xoom is by far the most expensive Tablet, and Motorola previously included an outstanding display in the original Motorola Droid Smartphone – so they once knew how to deliver a great display. This time it seems they just settled for a cheap low-end poorly calibrated display.

I’d attempt to argue with him, but if any of you remember my instant reaction to the comparison of my XOOM to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 from I/O, you’ll know exactly how I feel.  From a non-display guru perspective, I would say that the XOOMs display is not where it should be.  As the most expensive tablet on the planet, and one that was supposed to lead the charge for Android, it has fallen short in a number of categories over the last few months.

It’s not that I already want to look to see what’s next from Moto in the tablet game because I forked out some serious cash for a XOOM just like many of you did, but as I hold my Galaxy Tab 10.1 each day, it becomes more obvious that Sanjay and the boys need to step their game up.

Via:  DisplayMate, MaximumTech

Cheers Jason!

  • USC

    time to try using a real xoom got my mz 600 and i dare anyone to try and take it away

  • Andreas Schipplock

    the display of my xoom now has a “shadow” or a “cloud” in the corner of the display. After…4 months or so.

  • Mdshullaw

    I had to say something about this review of the Xoom screen. I am a video technician, and have been for over 40 years now. The screen in the Xoom is not “low end” as is said in this review. The lower brightness and contrast is a matter of the hardware driving the display. Clearly Motorola decided to sacrifice brightness to increase battery life.  Along with lower brightness comes lesser viewing angles and less contrast. It was a design choice I would not have made, but I didn’t design it. Even with the lower brightness of the display, in my opinion, it is still lights years ahead of the Ipad in terms of speed, and features. If you want an excellent review and comparison of the XOOM to other tablets, you cannot do better than Anandtech.. Check it out!


  • Anonymous

    Just got a xoom and I am loving it but where is that wallpaper that is in this article. I really want it but can’t seem to find it anywhere. It is not found in the stock wallpaper selector. Any help? (Wifi only xoom)

  • Glend18167

    motorola xoom has many features got flash, player, camera, alot of memory but the screen is not smooth?? ipad2 is cool but it doesnt have a camera and battery and dont have a flash player too?, samsung galaxy tab 10.1 looks cool and great too but does it have a smooth surface too? it really eeeeasx my mind pls help thanks!!!!!!!!! :))

  • Glend186

    which is better plsssssssssssss motorola xoom vs samsung galaxy 10.1 tab  plssssssss i need to buy one and it’s making me confuisng plssssssssssss thanks!!!!:))

  • El Patrick-o

    What wallpaper is that?

  • Bigden75

    it would be nice if all of these aclaimed crttics compared the xoom to the iPad 32 gig 3g model which is 729.00

  • Bigden75

    it would be nice if all of these aclaimed crttics compared the xoom to the iPad 32 gig 3g model which is 729.00

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  • asus transformer is beast … ips display is amazing 

    • Anonymous

      I agree, and so does he-

      “the Asus Transformer, which delivers very good performance across the board and comes in a solid second, all the more impressive because it is $100 cheaper than the iPad 2 and $200 cheaper than the Motorola Xoom”

  • Djflan

    Despite what most comments may say, Moto is far from poor quality. 

    Yes, it is true they probably picked a cheap screen to begin with, but lighten up – this is their first tablet. Yes, Samsung and Asus seem to have a better start, but how many that bought the Xoom when it first came out can say this is a deal breaker?

    I bought the Xoom when it first came out, payed $800…and do I love it? Yes. It does indeed have it faults, and I wish there were more tablet apps, but its a start. The battery life is excellent on the device, Tegra 2 seems capable so far…

    I imagine that Moto simply signed a contract with the wrong company at the wrong time and ended up with a sub-par LCD, I’ll also bet that their next tablet will have a better display. 

  • Myamail7

    Love my xoom…. if this thing ever gets 4G it will be a monster….

  • Anonymous


  • Kepeli999

    I own a Xoom and ipad2, there is no comparison. The ipad2 screen is far superior. With that said, I use the Xoom about 90% of the time since the browsing experience is so much better. Android is simply a better OS.

  • Anonymous

    All i know is my Gameloft games (Asphalt 6 & Hero Of Sparta) look incredible on the Xoom.If you want to talk about a bad screen pick up a Dell Streak 7 lol..case closed.

    • Anonymous

      Just wait till how good they look when the tablet optimized Verizon come out. 

  • Anonymous

    I’ve played around with the Xoom and never thought that the screen was crappy.  I’ve played with an iPad 2 as well and when I went back to the Xoom, I’ve never noticed anything different screen wise..  :/

  • Anonymous

    I remember your original comments re: the brightness and glad you kept up your unbiased reporting (money-spent or otherwise).

    I treat your opinions with respect and keep coming back to this site.

  • Mctypething

    Why has display become such a big deal on this blog? I own a xoom, and the display is amazing. Please give specific reasons as to why you have such a problem with the display instead of saying “the display is not where it should be”. Why?

  • Eric

    After everything that has gonna wrong with this POS. I wonder how the f*ck did this win best of CES 2011?

  • Anonymous

    What a waste of time and a non-topic.

  • Telephoneteck

    TThat just depresses me , after spending $600 cash for a Xoom and knowing I had choices. Crappy, just like this thunderbolt I should have fkng waited for Droid 3 🙁

  • Xzombiex66

    Not sure what all the gripe is about the Display on the Xoom, It looks Great IMO. the colors are off and need adjusted a little, like the hue and saturation, they need to have that option on phones and tablets. but other than that i love my Xoom.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t really care what he says or what he measured– it looks fine to me and user experience is the only thing that counts.

  • Anonymous

    The xoom display has gotten so much worse in the last 3 months since it was launched, probably due to all the dust that’s been accumulating on it having to sit in the backroom.   Lower the price to $399 and the display will be much better (fresher at least). 

  • Apfire21

    This is ridiculous people. Three weeks ago everyone was loving their xoom and how great they were. Now that something new comes out it sucks. This is like the best buy commercial “you bought the wrong tv silly, stupid stupid”. Technology is going to get better every day. I’m just saying.

    • I’d say 3 months ago, everyone loved their Xooms. However, when a promised delivery date is passed by and suspended indefinitely (LTE), a physical hardware component is non-operational unless hacked (SD) and later tablets are released that have these features at a lower price, consumers tend to get upset.

  • Anonymous

    Moto is going down hill since the OGDroid, I am scared of what the Bionic will bring “Another BIG Dissapointment” The Xoom may have other high end hardware that’s great but the overall product that i keep seeing from various reviews has the Xoom as over priced, and not the quality that we were led to believe.

    Moto is folloing that same methodology that got them in trouble last time and becamr “irrelevent” in the mobile space before the grea OGDroid camr along. The Xoom has all of the possibilities to unseat the Ipad, but with all of Moto’s flaws to go cheaper instead of a quality product this is what we get. 

    Maybe Moto thinks that by putting out two to three tablets a year, Hey nobody will care about the quality because devices come out so fast the customer will upgrade to the newer model. Hence, lackluster quality.

    Anothe Moto product that will get hammared by the industry. 😛  Go Moto 😛

  • gimlet72

    I have yet to buy a tablet. I am patiently waiting to see the specs for the new Amazon tablet. Would be very cool if it came with a quad core processor, although the latest rumors say that it will be a TI OMAP processor which it think is only up to a dual core.

  • gimlet72

    I have yet to buy a tablet. I am patiently waiting to see the specs for the new Amazon tablet. Would be very cool if it came with a quad core processor, although the latest rumors say that it will be a TI OMAP processor which it think is only up to a dual core.

  • jbonics

    Don’t let his get his hands on the viewsonic, oh boy

  • I love my Xoom, but hear me when I say… in terms of what this Xoom could have been, Motorola botched this thing.

    • LinuxLover

      Just like they’ve been doing with the Bionic… BOTCHED! Hey Motorola, if you can’t get the hardware together, what will you ever do on the software end, now that you’ve proclaimed you want to start up your own platform to compete? You’ll fail miserably! It’s a shame… The original Droid was THE ticket. Ever since that one, it’s been Blur this…hardware shortcomings that. Seriously? I think heads should be rolling at Motorola… Since the original Droid, Motorola has been held up as THE standard that others should attain to be, but they haven’t lived up to that either. They have had a golden opportunity and it’s pretty much been wasted.

  • Motorola needs to fire the blind man that makes the decisions on display hardware for their devices.

  • Anonymous

    Dude, I know right?

  • fish1552

    Then both both your notions, the site shouldn’t mention any other Android phone either. The only “Droid” is the one onmy desk, the Droid. Everything else is Android. Troll fail!

  • quickandroid

    SGT 10.1 Display beats everything…

  • quickandroid

    SGT 10.1 Display beats everything…

  • quickandroid

    SGT 10.1 Display beats everything…

  • fish1552

    Weeks? Try months to years. How many of their phones were stuck on 1.5 while everyone else was running Froyo?

  • A Motorola product with a poor screen? There’s a shocker.

    What he was noticing with the dimming backlight was dynamic contrast, which is horrible and virtually impossible to calibrate for. A lot of TV manufacturers use this trickery to publish higher contrast specs than the display is actually capable of. A static backlit display will always look better than a dynamic one when viewing video that has a lot of rapid action and flashing. The backlight just can’t keep up with it and you start to blatantly notice the backlight level raising and lowering with the action on-screen.

  • joesred


    which comes first….Droid Bionic or New Tier plan?

    Red has figured the amazing new phone will force people to jump from
    their nice safe unlimited plans to the shiny new Bionic Droid phone.

    If this is their plan…I “jump” off into the tier plan…that better be one help of a phone.

  • Xhaxol

    i would love to disagree but hence I cant. The display on my xoom looks like crap and always has. The colors are way off. Moto is just pissin me off. I am no longer going to be tricked with their specs. The give you specs and put crappy hardware in. like the slider and keyboard and back battery cover on my OG droid. Crappy sider on Droid 2. Crappy Screen on xoom. Locked bootloader (dead to me)  I ordered the xoom from motos site and their 2 day shipping took almost 2 weeks, couldn’t cancel order. Customer service from moto also sucks. I wouldn’t surprised if they went the way of sony. 

  • Hr

    These blogs r filled with high school kids, ur really gona b disapointd w life if u expect everything to be sooo perfect:-) for me the xoom is good enough for a first generation device.

    • Anonymous

      With spelling like that, are you sure you’re not a
      Middle-School child yourself?

    • Anonymous

      With spelling like that, are you sure you’re not a
      Middle-School child yourself?

    • LinuxLover

      Wasn’t good enough for the price! Remember Motorola’s remarks about if they expect to compete with iPad, they need to do that on price, too? Well, if they’re not delivering that grade of hardware, they should rethink their strategy.

  • Corymcnutt

    I wonder why he didn’t include the RIM PlayBook – I think it has sold more copies than the Xoom and certainly the Asus Transformers?

  • Anonymous

    One stroll through BestBuy can yield pretty much the same conclusion. The XOOM’s awful screen and absurd price will make sure it’s history by the end of the year. Too bad Samsung has such a bad reputation for supporting Android devices, because the GTab 10.1 is pretty awesome and stands up well next to an iPad 2.

  • People are crazy who cares what this dude says…I like the display on. my xoom. If having a good display means over saturated colors than whatever

    • Your definition of “good” and mine are completely different.

  • RW-1

    It’s called the Jha Technology Effect – Show once that you CAN do ti right, then f**k up every subsequent release after that.

    The Zoom would have had a pentile display, but moto’s board overruled Jha on that one when it was realized that it would have 1/2″ size jaggy pixels …

    Moto gogo byebye ..

  • Eric

    I am starting to regret buying my Xoom more and more day after day and that’s with saving $200.

    • Anonymous

      Not as much as Galaxy Tab 10.1 owners will regret their purchase the day the TouchWiz update comes.  Or when they run out of storage, or when they can’t buy a $3.48 HDMI cable to connect it to their TV.  The display on the 10.1 is pretty badass though.

  • I was afraid that something like this would happen.  Then to add insult to injury, I could buy a Transformer for $200 less and probably have a product that is fully ready for prime time (RIGHT NOW)!!!  Once again, I was suckered by Moto. I should have learned the first time and now I’m having to pay the price.  Once Moto fixes the SD slot and 4G issue, that’s it.  I’m done with them.  It’s always something with those guys and then it’s months of excuses later.  Unless some type of miracle happens between now and September (when we might finally have 4G), I’m officially done with Moto.  Whatever edge they used to have, they have now completely lost touch. Very sad.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, the Xoom is a fraud. Crappy hardware hiding behind good specs. Motorola is dead to me. A company that overpromises and under delivers doesn’t deserve our patronage.

  • Troll

    do everyone a favor and stop posting all this stupid crap about tablets that NO ONE has.  This is droid-life and a tablet is clearly not a “droid”

    • R Rod

      droid life is referencing android retard dont  like what you see move on to another site dummy. 🙂 and i mean this in the nicest way. 

      • tabletssuck

        theres a website (also run by kellex) called an.droid-life.  put all this junk there

    • Anonymous

       Your moms a droid.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the article.  Just another reason why the Xoom has been a failure.

  • Anonymous

    That guy needs to get laid 

  • Anonymous

    I can’t honestly tell the difference between these displays.  I took my xoom over to the apple booth at best buy where the guy was like “oh you don’t want to buy that” (I already had) just to compare the displays and I couldn’t tell a difference.  I’ve had 5 retina surgeries though.

    I am miffed that I paid a premium for this device thinking that since its a GED – it’d be top notch.

    Guess I was wrong.  Won’t be the last time I was wrong.

    • Load a picture of a beach scene with blue ocean and lots of people with orange tans. On the Xoom the ocean will be *BLUUUUE* and everyone will look more orange than Snookie. Then load it on the IPad or other tablet and look at how much more smooth and not “BAM!” the colors are.

      “BAM!” is not an indication of a good display unless the actual picture has that much contrast in it to begin with.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed.  I can’t see the difference so it doesn’t matter to me.

  • Anonymous

    I’m typing on a XOOM right now and can confirm the display is hideous.

  • DevGuy

    Which of the displays on the Xoom did he test?   At launch Motorola was using two different LCD screens in order to meet their production deadlines.  Community already knew there was quite a bit of difference between the two LCD’s that Motorola used in the Xoom.   Not knowing which model of Xoom, whether it was the early  production run it, and which model LCD was in it makes its hard to take anything away from his comparisons.     As its impossible to tell really how applicable his comparison is for current Xoom production models.

    • Anonymous

      I honestly had no idea about that, but apparently I got the better one.  I don’t have many complaints about the PQ of an HD movie in a portable device.

  • Dave

    Bought a Galaxy Tab 10.1 Sold my Xoom on Ebay. Never looking back. The Xoom display is very bad in comparison.

    Come on Moto! What’s going on with you…

  • Mike

    i dont think its a “horrible” screen. is it as nice as samsung displays?  no…   its having stock honeycomb more important vs being forced to run a touchwiz UI on my tab?   OH YES.

    • The Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn’t ship with Touchwiz… they have said that they will offer it as an update, but I believe that they are making it a choice for you to download the update with or without Touchwiz. Hopefully Google won’t let them ever customize Honeycomb… or Ice Cream Sandwich.

  • Dr.Joe

    Guru? Are you funking serious? The guy has a website where he does god knows what and he’s a screen guru?

    Guess I’m a professional photographer cause I have a picasa web album filled with photos I took and fixed up in photoshop.

    Kellex you impress WAY too easy.

    OH and cause this is the internet I’m going to call myself Dr.! You can’t disprove that I’m not!

    • Anonymous

      I’ve seen Displaymate panel reviews before referenced in other tech blogs and publications.  This guy is well respected for what he does and has an impressive resume.  He’s clearly not some clueless guy with a website.

      • Dr.Joe

        That is yet to be seen.

    • Shut the hell up, you annoying troll. The guy clearly knows exactly what he’s talking about.

      • Dr.Joe

        Only a troll goes around calling others troll.  Luckily I am a doctor and am light years ahead of you mentally. 

        • Phil Smucker

          Why would I bet the bank you are a chiropractor?  The only people I know who brag about being doctors are chiropractors, and I’ll remind you then that a chiropractor doesn’t even have to graduate from college.  S**k it you narcissistic douche.

    • Anonymous

      Dr. Sanjay Jha?  Is that you?

      • Dr. Joe

        Heavens no child!  I bring you fruitful knowledge from my frothy fields!

    • Erick

      I’ve seen the guy’s past reviews, you however are an unknown troll… who do you think I would listen to?

      • Dr.Joe

        Go look at previous DL articles and look up Mr. Joe.  You’ll find I’m well known.

    • Face it dude, the XOOM’s screen SUCKS to an extent that EVERYONE who held felt that the thing is an utter garbage….
      and i’m a real Dr.   lol

      • Dr.Joe

        Glad to see another fellow Dr.!

        I don’t own a XOOM and don’t plan on ever.

    • Anonymous

      Looks like he has his poop together to me.


      • Dr.Joe

        WOW a social network site. 

        That clears him up!

  • Erick

    It is an obvious cost cutting move on the part of Motorola.

    The Droid X2 is another example of this.   I went from the original Droid, who’s screen was pretty good albeit small, to the Droid X2 which has a bigger screen (what I wanted) but worse performance in displaying/scrolling through text.  It’s a shame too because I generally like Motorola’s build quality in the past…

  • Andrew Hewitt

    More Moto fail. What else you got for me?

  • Anonymous

    I had a Xoom for a couple weeks before selling it and I was immediately shocked at how sub-par the display looked for such an expensive device.  Since the original droid, the quality of displays in Moto devices have fallen off a cliff.  Their new qHD screens aren’t any better with the pentile matrix.  It would have been nice if the Samsung G-Tab 10.1 was included in this comparison as Sammy makes some real nice screens.

  • As a former Moto devotee (RAZR, RAZR2, OG Droid), it is troubling to see the downward trend Motorola is tracking.  It seems they are failing miserably on many fronts (XOOM, Bionic, Blur, etc) and in dire need of some improved leadership. 

    Just my 5 cents worth (2 cents, adj for inflation).

    • Jbona3

      Right there with you – had the RAZR and still rocking the OG, but since I can upgrade in July I’m going to skip the Moto phones and wait for the Galaxy S2, it looks like an absolute beast.  And with Sammy looking a bit more Dev and rooting friendly, I’m def. moving away from Moto.

      • fish1552

        Yeah, but Samsung has a horrible history when it come to updates being released. I’d look more @ the Toshiba Thrive.

        • Actually when you think about it its not so bad though I know that is not the most popular thing to say. Look at the Galaxy S line. They are already getting Gingerbread all 3 of them. They went from 2.1 to 2.2 to 2.3 in less then a year. What really hurt them was releasing those with Eclair and Google shortly after releasing Gingerbread. Most devices are barely getting 2.3.3 and Sansung is in the same boat what they took forever to do was release Froyo. But it look s like they learned their lesson. Now the Galaxy S 2 Has Gingerbread OUTB and for sure will get 4.0. Not to mention the redesigned TW4.0 is not to shabby. What would really seal the deal is if was an LTE device. But I don’t know.

    • Anonymous

      Honestly, Moto is more like a 3 year roller coaster than anything else.  I honestly don’t mind my Droid2 or my XOOM, but prior to Moto, I had HTC smartphones for 6 years.  It’s pretty up in the air where I’ll go next though.  Moto Targa or Bionic (possibly, if bootloader unlocked), HTC ??? (definitely if it has a TouchPro2 keyboard on Verizon), Samsung (if I can root it and remove TouchWiz without having to look at it for more than 10 seconds), or the next Nexus (if on Verizon)? Eh, we’ll see what happens.

    • Anonymous

      My Razr was garbage. The mic stopped working after a few months of owning it and the battery kept dieing.

    • palomosan

      It’s pretty simple, just go to Best Buy and compare them, as soon as you see the ipad or the Transformer , you know something is missing on the display end.

    • Inkster09

      Droid 1 got to sanjays big head. Thought he could do anything he wanted decision wise. Definition of a fool: someone who thinks he knows it all. He is FOOLISH

  • Kwparker80

    Was there any mention of the Iconia Tab display?

    • Anonymous

      He’s doing that and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 next.

  • viewthis66

    i’ve been disappointed with the screen on the xoom, but i’ll live with it till i part with it. no biggie. 

  • Blueninja14

    Wish I got an iPad instead.

    So happy I got rid of my dx and got iPhone 4 🙂

  • Moto should have stuck with the IPS displays. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

  • RevolutionX


    • Anonymous

      sorry to ruin your dreams

      • RevolutionX

        DANGIT!!!!! SOOOOO CLOSE…………..

      • RevolutionX

        DANGIT!!!!! SOOOOO CLOSE…………..

    • RevolutionX


  • Anonymous

    Hindsight is 20/20. I’m still happy with my Xoom purchase.

    • RevolutionX

      I’m Lovin’ My Xoom As Well.

      • Anonymous

        I’m still a fan of the XOOM, but the screen is not pretty.

    • Anonymous


    • Your absolutely right. I sort of regret buying my VZW Xoom. 
      1. No LTE yet
      2. No LTE yet
      3. Bad Display
      4. Heavy
       I went to bestbuy and Checked out the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and I loved it. The display was beautiful the thickness of it. even the stock keyboard. And I think I would like to try TouchWiz for tablets. I never thought I would say that but it isn’t bad at all. It is actually quite good. I specially like the dock apps you can make pop up inside the app one is currently on. Now that is multitasking.

      But then again the Xoom is a Google experience device. Meaning we will get the updates before anyone else, (except Huwaei apparently). It has SDcard slot where the Tab does not and HDMI out. it looks like the Tab will be able to support those things but not with out an adapter.

      So basically I don’t know.