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Product review: Motorola Xoom

20110816motorolaxoom

Motorola Xoom, accessibility and Honeycomb

The Motorola company has released the first tablet on the market incorporating Android 3.0, best known as Honeycomb. It uses Google’s operating system for mobile phones but made for a tablet.

The device has interesting characteristics that make it a good candidate for incorporating it into the rest of your tech equipment. Its 10.1 inch screen surface and 10 hours of battery life, according to the manufacturer’s details, make it a comfortable option for consuming multimedia content.

This device is distributed with different connectivity options: 3G support, WIFI only, etc. You can look up technical specifics on the official homepage for the Motorola Xoom.

Let’s talk accessibility

The Motorola Xoom is compatible with all software aids designed for Android 2.x and 3.x. The voice synthesizer and the voice recognition system, it must be said, are excellent thanks to this device’s processor, which also allows many applications to start up quickly.

Although the screen readers Talkback or Spiel can be installed onto the device, blind users cannot use these screen readers as this tablet does not have physical cursor keys, a trackball or a joypad meaning that the only entry interface is the touch screen. The only assistive Android product currently available for the blind who can use the screen is the Mobile accessibility for Android from the company Codefactory, but it has yet to be optimized for tablets.

The tablet’s dimensions can be comfortable for someone with low vision or problems handling the device, although it should be mentioned that at close to 2 lbs the device could be uncomfortable to hold onto on the go. Moreover, the weight of the device is not evenly distributed so holding it in one hand can be complicated for someone with a physical disability.

What’s more, some with motor skill problems will find that the physical connections of the device and its actual buttons, primarily to control volume, are difficult to use due to the fact that they are inlayed into the device’s case and the fairly thin buttons are not very prominent so pushing them is complicated for someone with fat fingers or with limited mobility in the fingers.

With dimensions at 9.8” x 6.6” x 0.5”, a 10” screen and a resolution of 1280X800 pixels, someone with a more minor degree of low vision may find this sufficient.  Keep in mind, there is no screen-magnifying software currently available for an Android so for those with a more severe case of low vision, they will have more problems with this device.

For someone with severe physical disabilities, this device, together with a stand connected to their wheelchair, along with a compatible pointer with capacitive screens, could be a combination they find very useful.

Who would arguably most benefit from the characteristics of this model from Motorola is the deaf. Its frontal 2Mpx camera for videoconferencing has one of the highest degrees of resolution on the market for a frontal camera of this type.   As well, its 150 pixels per inch of visual resolution density make comfortable work of interpreting sign language. 

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