For those that know me, ordering a Google Nexus 7 Tablet when it was
released isn’t much of a surprise. I did wait a day though. 🙂 The
Nexus 7 Tablet joins the stable of portable devices at home, which
include a couple of iPad 1s, and iPad 3, a couple of cheap Android
tablets imported from China, an iPhone, and an HP Tablet running both
WebOS and Android Ice Cream Sandwich. My first impressions will be
mainly what I see are the pros and cons of the Nexus 7. I’m not much of
a reviewer, you can find tons of other reviews around the web.
The hardware itself is very nice, although it doesn’t have the wide
viewing angles of the iPad, it’s not bad. My test for viewing angles is
to lay the device flat on a table and see how well I can see the screen.
On the iPad I can use it laying flat, the Nexus 7 is also usable, just
dim enough to make me want to pick it up. Text is very nice looking,
better than the iPad 1 or Touchpad. The high resolution screen in a 7
inch size isn’t “retina” ready, but it doesn’t need to be. The device
fits in the front pockets of my cargo shorts, although it is too tall to
button the top flap of the cargo pockets. It’s summer, so I don’t know
how it will fit in dress pants, I’ll find that out at the end of August.
On one side of the device there are four gold pegs that are flush with
the edge. I’m assuming this means that a dock will be available to use
the tablet in landscape mode. Over bluetooth I was able to pair a
keyboard and mouse, which makes it quite nice to use on a desk or table.
This review is being typed in Evernote using the Logitech Ultrathin
Keyboard case from my iPad 3. It’s pretty neat that the home key on the
keyboard still works. In fact, most of the keys work with it (volume,
First negative to the tablet is the wide screen aspect ratio. I’ve read
review bashing the iPad for it’s 4:3 aspect ratio, but after using the
Nexus 7 it feels like this is a good design choice with tablets. The
16:9 ratio means that the screen isn’t quite wide enough when in
portrait mode, but it’s not tall enough to be used in landscape mode.
When using the Nexus 7 in landscape it feels like I’m back on my
original Atari Lynx. Or holding on to a 2×4 by the ends. Other than
that, there aren’t any real negatives about the hardware.
Software is another story. While Android has progressively gotten
better, it’s still not up to the polished feel of iOS. There are little
things that bother me. For example, when I’m looking at my list of apps
in Google Play, I can tap on an app to get more info or to install the
app. But, when I hit the back key, I am placed back at the top of the
list, not where I was. Annoying. Also, I had to install a different
launcher since the default launcher (think home screen) doesn’t work in
landscape mode. Android still doesn’t have the quality of apps that iOS
does, such as TweetBot, Paper by Fifty Three, Garageband, and iMovie. I
do need to investigate multimedia creation apps. It does have a Google
Drive app that is very nice and supports editing of word processing
documents. And the Share icon available in most apps is very nice and a
lot more usable than it is in iOS.
The onscreen keyboard still needs work. I’ve replaced it with SwiftKey,
which is a lot better than the default keyboard, but it’s still not as
fast as typing on my iPhone or iPad. Selecting text is servicable,
although not enjoyable. 🙂
Should you buy it? Is this a device for schools? As of right now, I’m in
a wait and see mode. I know in the past I’ve said to base decisions on
what is available now, not what may be available, but with the rumor
that an 8″ iPad may be announced in October, I feel patience is best.
All of the software negatives I’ve mentioned above can be rectified with
updates, but can they be by October? If you are a school district that
is not looking at iOS devices, the Nexus 7 tablet is a worthy contender,
especially if you are a Google Apps for Education school. This could be
the start of an one to one program that is sustainable in a lot of
I forgot to mention two items, battery life and charging issues. First
off, battery life. It’s ok, but it’s no iPad. I’ve found that the Nexus
7 can barely make it through a day without needing charged. The reports
of 7 hour of battery life doesn’t seem quite right. Using it for web,
email, IM, and a few other things (no media playback or games) has it
last maybe 6 hours. And that goes into my next rant about charging it.
This isn’t a bullet point but a RANT! The Nexus 7 will only charge with
its USB cord and its charger. I’ve tried different chargers, including
an iPad charger, and it won’t charge. It seems to show a charge when
plugged into my MacBook Air, but it doesn’t charge. What is the point of
using a mini USB for the connector if I can’t charge it?!?