As you might have heard, Google finally unveiled its own tablet last week at the I/O developers conference. In a partnership with Asus, the company is hoping to grab a slice of a rapidly growing market, and Iâ€™ve spent a few days playing around with its offering â€“ the Nexus 7.
Iâ€™m not going to bore you with you ridiculous unboxing videos or photos, and Iâ€™m going to save you all of the Kindle Fire, iPad and Surface references and comparisons. Yes, this is a pretty to-the-point review of something that Iâ€™ve spent the last few days actually using. Imagine that.
Since Iâ€™ve never had a chance to properly put the Ice Cream Sandwich OS through its paces (which is a whole other story that I wonâ€™t get into here), Jelly Bean seems way futuristic to me, and I imagine that most people who decide to pick up the Nexus 7 will feel the same way.
Iâ€™m going to try and be as brief as possible and answer most of the questions that have been asked of me since I picked this badboy up at the conference.
Also, Iâ€™d like to preface this by saying that I usually have my nose in my computer or my phone, and tablets have never really gripped with me as a way of computing or using the web.
The idea of a seven inch tablet had me completely fascinated. Why would someone want something thatâ€™s not quite a full-screen tablet, and bigger than a phone? It seemed goofy to me, but when we spoke to Google during the conference we were told that quite a bit of market research went into the decision on size.
The device feels super sturdy, and the back of the 7 has a leather-like feel. This thing probably wonâ€™t slip out of your hands, which is nice. Also, the screen doesnâ€™t smudge as much as I assumed that it would, so thatâ€™s a plus. Unfortunately, I canâ€™t read books on it outdoors, because thereâ€™s quite a glare problem.
When you watch someone using this thing, itâ€™s hard not to think â€śWow, thatâ€™s a big phoneâ€ť, even though it doesnâ€™t have the capabilities of one. If you can get past that, itâ€™s very easy to start a very personal relationship with a device of this size. I tend to sleep with my phone, so take that last comment with a grain of salt.
This thing is fastâ€¦hella fast. For $200, I canâ€™t believe how much power is packed into this thing. I played the new Sonic the Hedgehog game and the loading screens flew by without a hitch. Iâ€™ve read some reviews that say the Nexus 7 is the perfect â€śbook-readingâ€ť or â€śvideo viewingâ€ť device, but I wouldnâ€™t count games out at all.
The screen is crystal-clear and HD videos are absolutely gorgeous.
The unfortunate part is that app developers havenâ€™t had a chance to optimize their offerings for Jelly Bean and the 7-inch experience as of yet. Apps like Twitter and Facebook feel like the same ones youâ€™d find a phone, which was a bummer
Taking this thing on the road isnâ€™t going to happen though, since itâ€™s WiFi-only. Some see this as a plus, as dealing with AT&T or the like for yet another device is a pain in the ass. The Nexus 7 is a mobile device for the home, which makes complete sense. The idea of â€śmobileâ€ť doesnâ€™t mean youâ€™re walking down the street, it just means that youâ€™re not a desktop or laptop computer.
At first, I had to make a conscience effort to use the 7 to do things like check email. I wanted to really give this thing a shot, so I quickly decided to just set it on the table and see if Iâ€™d reach for it before I grabbed my phone.
In quite a few cases, I did just that. If you use any of Googleâ€™s products, youâ€™ll find Jelly Bean and the Nexus 7 to be a handy device. The Gmail experience is worth the price of admission alone. The other thing youâ€™ll quickly figure out is that the 7 is meant to showcase Google Play, which is Googleâ€™s marketplace for movies, TV, music, apps and games. Yes, Google wants your money, and it hopes that the Nexus 7 is the conduit to that.
Personally, I have myself wrapped up in Spotify for music and Netflix for movies, so Google isnâ€™t going to get my money on those fronts. Fortunately both of these apps work perfectly on the device, so I didnâ€™t feel â€śforcedâ€ť to change my habits at all.
Are you going to want to rush out and by the Nexus 7? As with anything, thatâ€™s going to be a personal preference. If youâ€™re in the market for something thatâ€™s not a phone and not a â€ścomputerâ€ť, then it might be worth picking up. The fact that itâ€™s WiFi only will most certainly keep a segment of folks away with it, as being tethered to somewhere with an internet connection can be annoying.
What I can say is that this particular device can totally serve a purpose for you if youâ€™re a couch-computer-person. For me, I use my phone so much, I worry that itâ€™s going to damage my eyes eventually. If you think about it that way, using a larger display for things like reading is a smart bet.
Using the 7 is extremely natural, even though Jelly Bean still has its quirks. For example, you canâ€™t put the homescreen in landscape mode, which seems like an incredible bug to ship with.
I wonâ€™t lie, I have a ton of gadgets in my closet that go unused. I have tablets, laptops, netbooks, and desktop machines. It takes quite a bit to make my normal rotation. I wanted to wait a few days to discuss my experience, since I think itâ€™s ridiculous to publish a â€śreviewâ€ť of something that youâ€™ve spent an hour or less with.
The things that Iâ€™m talking about today though, are things that wonâ€™t change for me moving forward. I absolutely do need a larger device to mess around on the Internet when Iâ€™m not at my computer, so the Nexus 7 fits that need.
Also, I havenâ€™t found one thing that it doesnâ€™t do that bummed me out. Thatâ€™s saying a lot, since Iâ€™m rather picky. Is the Nexus 7 going to change the world? No. Is it the worst product ever? No. As with anything, nothing is black or white.
What I can say is that the Nexus 7 is an absolute steal at $200. The 16GB model will run you another $49. I hope my thoughts were helpful, let me know if you have any questions in the comments and Iâ€™ll be sure to answer them.