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My Nexus 7 Tablet

Posted 12th November 2012 at 07:54 AM by rjm
Updated 18th November 2012 at 05:03 AM by rjm

The Nexus 7 is cheap. I paid 19,800 yen for my 16 GB model, shipping and tax inc., and it came with 2,000 Yen credit to buy apps and movies and such in the online Google Play store. And yes, its plastic, even the silver metallic trim around the edge is just a silver-coated plastic part. It is solid, however; sturdy, well-built, and good-looking. The back is covered in grippy, dimpled rubber that feels like leather. The screen is a little dim, but high resolution (800x1280) ~220pi, pretty to look at and easy to read.

With a 7" screen and default portrait orientation the device is closer in spirit to a large smartphone than a small tablet. A giant, wi-fi only smartphone. It's a handy size for reading paperback-format books, comics, and news articles, but not so hot for magazine format publications and A4-formatted journal articles. Browsing the web is generally fine, but the experience varies widely depending on the individual layout of the web page. As you might expect, ease of typing is about half-way between a smartphone and a 10" tablet. I'm good for short stretches, but I usually delay writing longer emails and until I can get time at the desktop PC.

The tablet is powered by a quad core nVidia Tegra SoC. It does the job just fine. Battery life is in in the region of 8 hours or so. More important is the fluid, sophisticated Android 4.2 operating system. It feels smooth and powerful. The charging connector is microUSB. You can also plug the Nexus into a PC and transfer files, music, videos and so forth just by drag-and-drop. No special software is needed. You can even connect a keyboard or mouse to your Nexus, if you ever feel the need and happen to have the USB/micro-USB adapter cable.

I use the device mainly as a window on all things internet: Google knows who I am, what I like, and where I am (The Nexus 7 has accurate built in GPS and compass). It contrives to show me things I am interested in in a rolling stream of relevant data. It's also a decent gaming device, good e-reader, and excellent communication platform, whether email, chat, or voice/video. As a media player, it's functional rather than ideal. As I'm not in the US, I'm locked out of most internet music services, which is a bit of a drag. Japan is rather behind the curve.

Finally, the stock Asus case costs about $20. It doesn't look like much, but it does the job and gets out of the way. Around the house I prefer to use it without the case, but its nice thing to have when travelling. There aren't so many wifi hotspots in Japan, or at least very few free ones, but once connected you're set, and apps like Instapaper can be used to make sure you've always got some reading material for the train.

The Nexus 7 has two purported weaknesses. No rear camera and no SD card slot. I miss neither.

I really do think Asus/Google hit one out of the park here, and I'm of the opinion that the Nexus 7 is better than the iPad mini. It's not just a better deal. The smaller form factor, coupled with the more sophisticated operating system (the better notification system and desktop widgets, for starters), makes it a more convenient, powerful companion to have with you.
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Total Comments 3


  1. Old Comment
    I still haven't purchased a tablet and the reason I'm still holding out is - productivity.

    I find it hard to justify the need for a content consumption device. I watch movies on a large screen TV and listen to music on a great sound system. To me a tablet is an inferior way to enjoy media content. I can easily access Internet at my desktop or phone.

    What made desktops so popular was their flexibility - you can do all kinds of work from writing documents to designing bridges. Watching movies and making video calls was just another plus to owning one. Tablets are still very limited in that aspect. Yes that is changing but not fast enough - for example I have many USB devices but I can't plug any of them directly into a tablet without an adapter. Tablets are obviously the way of the future but I think I will wait out just a bit longer.
    Posted 14th November 2012 at 10:17 PM by boris81 boris81 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    rjm's Avatar
    There are some things its worth firing up the desktop for. There are some things worth watching on the TV.
    There are some times its nicer to listen to music on the stereo.

    Perhaps you are asking a bit too much from a 7", $200 tablet. I certainly don't expect it to increase my "productivity". I'm sure I'd be far more productive without without internet access at all.

    For me a tablet is instant access to email, news, weather, books, reminders, youtube, time wasting games, and the social network. If it manages all that fluidly and seamlessly, I'm happy.

    Now, most of that can be accomplished equally well on a smartphone, with the additional point that you are not stuck forever looking for a wifi hotspot. As I wrote above, if you already have a smartphone, especially one with a 4.5" screen or larger, the purchase is hard to justify. It depends largely on how you feel about reading text on smaller screens, where you pain threshold lies, in other words.
    Posted 15th November 2012 at 02:01 PM by rjm rjm is offline
  3. Old Comment
    poynton's Avatar
    I also recently purchased a NEXUS 7.

    I have loaded some free software .. Adobe reader, Skype, and Kingsoft Office.

    Unfortunately, BBC iPlayer etc would not load due to a software update for the Nexus. Come on BBC, get up to date!!

    With some films, books and music, I am now set for a spell in Brazil .... and my laptop has not come out once!!!!
    Posted 1st December 2012 at 09:28 AM by poynton poynton is offline

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