With rumors of a 7.85-inch iPad circulating, Google’s announcement of the Nexus 7 has perhaps suffered a little. That said, the Google-branded, Asus-built tablet has many nerds intrigued. Offering a stock Android experience on a $200 device, Google is trying to set the bar when it comes to smaller tablets.
Have they done it? Let’s find out.
The Nexus 7 is a little lighter (and a tad thicker) than the iPad 3, and (as such) is great to hold in one hand. While the size difference between them isn’t that big, the Nexus 7 feels far more portable than the iPad.
The front-facing camera is great for video chatting, but that’s about it. I’m not sad about the lack of a rear-facing shooter, though. Taking pictures with a tablet is dumb.
It’s easy to imagine how big the Nexus 7 is. If it’s in landscape, it takes up half the iPad, if Apple’s tablet is in the portrait orientation.
When I reviewed the Kindle Fire, I wrote this:
I really dislike the 7″ screen size. In portrait, it feels awkward, and in landscape, there’s not enough screen real estate to really see anything — especially if the keyboard is on the screen.
As many other reviewers have stated, the build quality on this device really is great. The back is made from a leather-like material that feels great in-hand. While the screen isn’t “Retina” quality, it is pretty good. Colors and viewing angles are great, and the brightness is impressive.
The 7-inch Nexus 7 feels weird in landscape, but thanks to its higher resolution, it feels better than the Fire. I for one am really enjoying the form factor of the Nexus 7. It’s changed my mind about smaller tablets, and I can see really enjoying an iPad mini in the future.
Spec-wise, the Nexus 7 has a Tegra 3 processor with 8 or 16 GB of storage. Thanks to the chipset, it’s fast. Looking at the Nexus 7, one might think its wimpy, but it isn’t.
Here’s what I have on my home screen at the moment:
Almost all of those apps are also present on my iPhone or iPad. The big missing piece for me is task management, which I do with the excellent OmniFocus for Mac and iOS.
Android 4.1 — Jelly Bean — is vastly improved over Android 2.3, which is the last version of the OS I spent any real time with. Almost everything feels cohesive, and for the first time, I don’t feel surprised when the OS does something. It all just flows the way one would think it should.
That’s not to say Android is perfect. The OS gives users enough freedom to get themselves in trouble with apps in the background, for example. Also, Google assumes you want to be signed in to services like Google+ and Google Talk all the time. With iOS, I always know what I’ve got going on; with Android, I feel at times like the OS is in charge. It’s unsettling from time to time.
The plus side is that services like Google Drive work way better on Android than iOS.
With its new Play store, Google is attempting to enjoy the same profits — and offer the same experience — as Amazon and Apple do with their content offerings. While Play doesn’t have the same range of content yet, it’s status on the Nexus 7 cannot be overstated or ignored.
Is the Nexus 7 an iPad killer? No.
Is it an iPad mini killer? No.
But it doesn’t have to be. Android has — in many people’s mind — offered an alternative to iOS for those who don’t want to be in Apple’s ecosystem.
As an Apple nerd, I ordered a Nexus 7 as an easy way to keep up with what Google’s up to. I didn’t expect to enjoy using it, but I have. I can’t tell if it’s the form factor, the fact that’s it’s still new, or Android 4.1, but I really haven’t found much that this thing can’t do in my normal workflow. I use my iPad for reading, surfing, email and Twitter. That’s about it. The Nexus 7 does all of these things well.
As a card-carrying member of the Apple Fanboy Brotherhood (TM), I’ve never found my nerd life so confusing.