Tablets

Turn your Motorola Xoom into a portable desktop computer

Jack Wallen shows you how to turn your tablet into a portable desktop computer with the help of a docking station and a wireless keyboard.

I love my Verizon 4G Xoom. Of all the tablets I've used, for some reason this little guy has the right combination of "good" that makes it stand out, even above more powerful tablets. But there's one thing that makes the Xoom stand out even more. With the help of two simple add-ons, the Xoom tablet can easily be transformed into a pseudo-desktop/laptop computer. And even better, these add-ons won't set you back an arm or a leg.

The two add-ons I'm talking about are the Standard Dock and the Motorola Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard. With these two pieces, your tablet becomes a powerful tool that will allow you to work faster, longer, and more accurately. Take a look at Figure A. That image is the Xoom tablet securely nestled in the dock and waiting for input from the wireless keyboard. Figure A

Surprisingly enough, that dock is solid and the keyboard is quite nice.

Now, I should say you're not just dealing with a standard dock. This is not just a solid brick to hold up your tablet. Not at all. The Standard Dock offers the following features:

  • Two adapters: One for use with a case and one for use without a case
  • Charge: With the included AC adapter, your tablet will always be charging when sitting in the dock
  • AUX Output: To connect your tablet to your external speakers

The AUX output is a nice touch, allowing you to better experience video on your tablet (as most tablet speakers leave much to be desired).

Personally, what I like most about the dock is how solid it holds the tablet. Unlike many foldable cases that serve as a stand, you won't worry about your tablet tipping over or slipping and collapsing. This base is solid. So, even when interacting with the touch screen, you don't feel like the tablet is going to tip or slip (thanks to the grippy bottom).

The Standard Dock comes with an AC plug, so you're not relying on the slower charge from a USB device. Both the power and AUX connections are on the back of the dock, so you don't have to worry about routing cables from underneath or from opposite sides.

As for the keyboard? Well, it's not perfect, but it's certainly a workable solution. Remember, this is not only Bluetooth, but a device created with a virtual keyboard in mind. Even with those hurdles, the Motorola serves its purpose well.

Connecting the keyboard is quite simple. Please note that before you try to make the connection with the tablet, the batteries must be installed into the keyboard. Once that's done, you'll notice a small power button on the back side (the side facing the tablet in Figure A). When you're ready to have the tablet discover the keyboard, press that button to turn the keyboard on and have it automatically placed in discovery mode. This should be done before step six below.

Here's how to get the tablet to discover the keyboard:

  1. Power on the tablet
  2. Tap Apps | Settings
  3. Tap Wireless & Networks
  4. Tap Bluetooth to turn the service on (if it's on, it will have a green check mark)
  5. Tap Bluetooth Settings
  6. Tap Find Nearby devices
  7. When the entry for Motorola Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard appears, simple tap it to connect

Your wireless keyboard should now be paired with your tablet and is ready to be used.

I have found just a few ghosts in the machine with the keyboard. Most of these are a combination of a particular app or web site not wanting to behave well with caps lock. One in particular, Horde (a web-based e-mail client), seems to want everything typed in all caps when using the default web browser. The simple solution for this is to install a different browser (Firefox works great), and most of these little quirks will go away.

If you're looking to transform that Motorola Xoom tablet into a miniature desktop, you're in luck. With the help of these two devices, which will run you under $90.00 USD (depending on when and where the items are purchased), your tablet will be better appointed to make your mobile life far more productive. Are these necessities? Not at all. But if you do a good amount of typing and prefer to not have to hold your tablet all the time (or have it held in awkward positions), these items are a must have for any owner of the Motorola Xoom.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

1 comments
Brainstorms
Brainstorms

...run Ubuntu? Or is that 'Xubuntu'...? 'Lubuntu'? (As long as it's not using Unity, okay?)