New Nexus 7 – Initial Impressions of the Google Tablet

I am not a full time tech reporter or reviewer. I just spend a little bit too much time reading about products I rarely purchase.  But with the New Nexus 7, released on July 30, 2013, I have jumped in feet first.

I have had a limited experience with the Android OS, using it on a Motorola Droid 2 in 2010 for about 12 months. It was Android 2.2, whatever was before Gingerbread update. As I told my friends, I like everything about it, but it doesn’t make phone calls very well.  Overall, it was a rough experience and I went back to iOS as soon as possible.

However, with each Android software update, I have continued to be impressed with their direction…in theory. In theory I loved what Google’s OS was doing, but in practice I as miserable.  So, it was with excitement and nervousness that I decide to bite the bullet and get the new Nexus 7 this past month.  Thankfully, with this 7 inch tablet, I want to do just about everything BUT make phone calls! This is my second experience with a tablet, iPad3 user for 12 months in 2012 on iOS 6. So, I have high expectations for what a device can and should do. I am seeking a tablet that will me access my content (books, articles, documents/Evernote) and web content in a pocketable but usable device. I have an iPhone 4s and I am tired of typing on the unforgiving keyboard and squinting at a microscopic screen.

Initial Impressions:

I very much like it, in fact, it might be love.

Pros:

  • Operating System (OS): One of my biggest frustrations with my first experience with Android OS was that it wasn’t smooth. Google has been working on that (in a strangely titled project, “Project Butter,” as in “smooth as butter”) with each OS update. With OS 4.3 Jelly Bean they have nailed it. It is smooth and responsive. 99% of my “touches” are acknowledged and the tablet responds flawlessly.  At this point, granted it is early, I have very much enjoyed this improvement from previous Android experiences.
  • Screen: The screen is amazing. The colors pop and I can’t find a pixel (that is a good thing). At times, the width is a little tight.  It is a 16×9 ratio which is great for movies, but does make PDFs & webpages tricky to find the sweet spot.
  • Value:  It is a great price point ($270 for the 32 GB which is plenty) and looks like it has the specs to be a good tablet for the next 2 years. I am sure you can find it cheaper by looking online a little bit. I think you could also get away with the 16GB version which is $230.
  • Size/Form Factor: As most reviews have said, it does at times feel “tall.” But it doesn’t feel awkward. It is comfortable in one hand and isn’t heavy. The back feels very good, it is a non-slip feel but doesn’t feel tacky/sticky.

Cons:

  • Google Play Store: The bottom line is that iTunes and Apple’s philosophy about having an easier platform to develop for (App makers only have to worry about 3 screen sizes) does make their offering of apps better. Even with “many, many” apps available on both platforms. I have found most of the apps I use on my iOS (iPhone & iPad) that are really innovative (example: Drafts for iOS, Tweetbot, or Checkmark), aren’t available on Android.  Apart from having to purchase them gain, I just can’t find them!  This isn’t the Nexus 7 fault. But it is a problem it has to deal with.

If you are looking for a tablet, this is a great choice. Is it “better” than an iPad? I think it is better than a non-retina iPad (i.e. iPad Mini or iPad 2).  If you have $400+ to spend on a tablet, by all means, get an iPad 4. If you are like most people, you need to find a balance between value and quality, this is the tablet to get.