published 18 July 2012
On Monday, I purchased an Asus/Google Nexus 7, mostly for testing purposes. It arrived the following day (yesterday).
I’ve had it in my hands just 12 hours, so take the remarks that follow with a grain of salt. However, because I also own a Galaxy Tab, BlackBerry PlayBook, and Amazon Kindle Fire—all of which are roughly the same size as the Nexus 7—I’ve got a pretty good handle on what works well and what doesn’t for 7” tablets.
In no particular order, my initial impressions:
- Unboxing it wasn’t nearly as difficult as some have experienced. Perhaps they’ve tweaked the packaging since.
- Setup was a breeze. And because I’ve already connected a previous tablet to Google Play, apps and media I’ve purchased instantly began installing on this device. (Jury is still out as to whether or not that’s really a good thing.)
- I was surprised to learn Asus manufactures it. I didn’t pick up on that prior to ordering, and I didn’t even realize it until seeing the name imprinted on the back of the device. I’ve never associated Asus with a high standard of quality, but this device feels well-built.
- There’s greater potential for confusion when using the Nexus 7 than with iPad. Fundamentally, this is due to the buttons flanking the bottom of the screen on most (all) Android devices, as compared to the single home button on iOS devices. At times, especially when opening modals, it takes me a couple seconds to remember if I should press the home button or the back button to exit the modal. I dislike how often this throws me off. But again, this goes for any Android device, not just Nexus 7. (It should be noted that the buttons on this device are digital, not physical. This means they can disappear in some apps, which they do.)
- I love having Chrome on a tablet. The fact alone that I can use the address bar to type both URLs and searches means I never need to remember which field is which, as compared to Mobile Safari. Some claim this is a feature that works well on the desktop for advanced users but confuses novice users, which I partly agree with. But on a tablet, a single field for both just feels right. (This isn’t a feature exclusive to Chrome on tablets. Other browsers employ a single field, as well.)
- I rented and watched part of a movie last night to get a feel for how it handles video, and the experience wasn’t stellar. The screen is fairly good; that wasn’t the problem. The audio and streaming were at fault. The speaker(s) were simply too weak to provide ample audibility, even at full volume. And this was in a quiet room! I eventually plugged in headphones to hear adequately. Further, the movie paused for buffering a half-dozen times within a stretch of 10 minutes. Granted, this is likely the fault of Google Play rather than Nexus 7, but I’ve yet to experience that kind of latency with iTunes and iOS.
- The page-turn animation is neat. Download an e-book and you’ll see what I mean.
- Typing really isn’t any better than iPad, but those who follow me on Twitter know I absolutely despise typing on tablets. Any typing. If anything, typing is easier in landscape mode with Nexus 7 than with iPad, simply because the reach between thumbs is less wide than with the current 10” iPad.
The obvious question that begs to be asked is one that involves a reference to iPad and a murderous label. As solid as the Nexus 7 is, it’s unlikely a killer. I was enamored by both the PlayBook and Kindle Fire during my initial time with each, and you might say I’m equally enamored by the Nexus 7. However, weeks later neither device stood up to iPad. Now they both gather dust when not used for testing. I worry the Nexus 7 will suffer the same fate.
And with a smaller, less-expensive iPad just around the corner, I’m willing to bet Nexus 7’s time in the spotlight will be relatively brief. But as an Android alternative to iPad, it’s the best tablet I’ve had my hands on thus far.
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