When I completed my residency back in the ’80s, I moved to California, and my wife and I needed another car. We were on a tight budget, and we looked for the least expensive car available – a Hyundai™. Guess what we got? A Hyundai (yes, I know Hyundai is a better car now). As the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for”, but when it comes to the tablet computer wars, not exactly.

I was initially excited when I finally got my Motorola Xoom™ tablet, the first mobile tablet to run Google’s Honeycomb operating system. The Xoom integrates voice with almost most any text box in the software, and I was hoping that its integrated voice recognition could help MediTouch EHR® providers that prefer to dictate. The Xoom of course does not run Nuance’s Dragon® Medical for dictation, but I was still intrigued by the prospect of using Google’s voice-to-text feature as a cloud-based substitute.

First, we began to test the Xoom’s Google mobile browser. I was surprised that, unlike Apple’s® iPad® , which uses a mobile version of Safari (the same browser that they package with their popular Mac computers), Google did not upgrade their Honeycomb operating system with an equally capable version of their well received Chrome Web browser. Simply stated, the Xoom browser is substandard, it is not consistent with the latest coding standards, and it is a poor platform for applications like MediTouch® that leverage all of the rich features of the most recent Web browser technologies. According to Sencha.com, a well respected provider of open-source web application frameworks for developers, the Xoom’s Google mobile browser is “not ready for prime-time.” We have decided not to support this browser until it is compliant with the most up-to-date HTML browser standards.

We also tested the Xoom’s voice recognition capabilities. For physician use, it is not better than the mobile Dragon Dictate for the iPad® , but it requires less steps. Remember, on the iPad® , you must exit the browser, use the Dragon Dictate app, and then paste back into the browser (see our blog post, I Spoke to My iPad® Today). Google’s voice-to-text feature on the Xoom was good at voice commands but not at long sentences, and it was worse than the iPad® Dragon Dictate app with regard to recognizing medical terms (although neither compares with Dragon Dictate Medical for Windows PCs).

The least expensive Xoom tablet is $599 with a minimum data plan of $20/month for two years. The least expensive iPad 2® is $499 with no cellular plan required! The iPad® has a modern browser and is a much more elegant device: it is thinner and lighter. We returned our Xoom after testing; our staff only wants to “play” on the iPad®. With the iPad®, you can pay for a Hyundai and get a Lexus. What a deal.