24 Hours with the Nexus 7
Winner. Winner. Winner. That's my Nexus 7 review.
I suppose, however, I should be a bit more specific.
- The higher resolution display is fabulous. Forget the specs that it's not as high a resolution as the new iPad retina display, that's splitting hairs. The text is crisp, the images look fabulous, it just seems more present. Without a side-by-side comparison, I would confidently say there is no experiential difference between the iPad3 and the Nexus 7 in terms of screen resolution.
- I have found with my Kindle Fire that the 7 inch size tablet was perfectly comfortable, imminently usable, and much more comfortable to tote around than the larger 10" tablets. The Nexus 7 promised to be the perfect size and it is — at least for my needs — movies, books, photographic ePublications, email and even web browsing. Of course, the screen is smaller, but the trade-off for portability is a no-brainer.
- I was surprised at how much smaller it feels than the Kindle Fire. The Fire seems blocky by comparison. The Nexus 7 feels very light, closer to my Kindle Keyboard eReader than the Kindle Fire. Very nice.
- The speaker is louder than any audio I've heard on a tablet — including my original iPad. This is terrific news for those of us who love audio books, podcasts, and even casual background music. No, it's not stereo, but for the times I would use the external speaker, stereo would be inconsequential. If I'm seriously listening to music I'd rather use headphones.
- The Jelly Bean operating system does appear smooth as could be — certainly as smooth as iOS. But, I'm not sure the leap from Ice Cream Sandwich to Jelly Bean is something very dramatic in terms of operational features — at least not that I'm seeing in my first hours of use. I get to explore some of the newer features, so I'll postpone any comments until I've had a hands-on experience.
- Because I have purchased almost all of my apps from the Google Play Store (for my other Android devices), I was able to install my favorites without having to repurchase them for this new device. Everything installed and works except three apps that I hope will be updated soon: Dictadroid (I use for dictation) and Adobe Photoshop Touch (amazingly) report that they are not compatible with my device. No doubt this is a Jelly Bean issue. The third software is more problematic and more urgent for me. For some reason the Microsoft OneNote mobile app installs but crashes shortly after the program is started. Others have reported the same issue. Hopefully Microsoft will be very quick with an update release.
- The other issue I've had that surprises me is that I can't seem to get my headset microphone to work regardless of the app. When I plug in my headset, I can hear the audio just fine, but I can't use the microphone for recording or for Skype. I hope this is not a hardware issue because if it is, there is no solution. Perhaps it can be repaired with an OS update. It's not a disaster because the built-in microphone is actually quite good — good enough for dictation and Skype. I often prefer, however, the audio quality from a microphone positioned more closely to my face and a headset microphone is the perfect answer. I really do hope this gets resolved, but certainly not a dealbreaker.
- Battery life — OMG. We all know how devices need a few cycles before the battery is operating to its full potential. That being said, I charged the Nexus immediately when it arrived and used it for about 8 hours yesterday as I installed software and played with it. At the end of the day it's still registered 30% battery left. Amazing. I've seen reports of 10+ hours of use and I suspect these are not an exaggeration.
- Finally, the biggie — storage capacity. So much has been written about lack of external storage capabilities — all of it griping and negative. Like everyone else, I would've preferred an external card slot for expandable memory, but it's not there. We can complain and moan, but for now we must simply make do with the device as is. With that in mind, how "make do" is make do? For what it's worth, I purchased the 16 GB version. After I installed all my apps, I then loaded it up with 101 albums totaling 1,190 songs (7.47GB), 1,050 ePub books (my entire collection, 0.3 GB), and 4 lengthy audiobooks (3.48GB), and still have 1.16 GB left. I'm perfectly comfortable with this amount of content to be available offline for my viewing pleasure at any given moment. On the other hand, I grew up in the age of physical books and cassettes where a couple of paperbacks and a dozen tapes was a full load for a vacation weekend.
Bottom line: if you've been waiting for the first generation of tablet devices to evolve into a true second-generation experience — with lower costs that inevitably come when a technology matures — the Nexus 7 is certainly something worth looking at. From my experience, it's clearly the best tablet to date for my needs.