Nexus 7 Experience

This is an awesome tablet.

The Nexus 7 2012 was wildly popular.  But I think this current Nexus 7 2013 model hits the sweet spot of size, performance, and cost.

I would recommend it to anyone interested in getting a tablet.  This post also has a little hint of Nexus 7 2013 vs. Nexus 7 2012 vs. iPad vs. iPad Mini vs. phone🙂.

Some of my G+ posts related to the 7.

Smooth And Crisp

These are the two things that make the new generation worth it over the first.   They may seem minor, but to me they enhance the experience enough to make a huge qualitative difference.   The crispness obviously comes from the much-larger resolution (1920 x1200 vs. 1280×800).  The smoothness may come from a variety of places: the difference in processing powersoftware improvements, or even the fact that there’s more RAM.   Below is a short video (my first YouTube video!) that shows how the performance differs using the Google Earth application.

Form Factor Pros And Cons

Here’s a list of the mobile devices I have had over the past few years: iPhone (first generation), HTC One X (Cyanogenmod), iPad first-generation, iPad 4 and iPad mini (a few weeks of experimentation), Nexus 7 2012, and Nexus 7 2013.  Obviously, the mobile device that you can take the most places will often get the most use.  Phones are the easiest to carry around, so I always ended up using them more than my tablet.  My iPad 1st gen was/is more of an entertainment/media consumption device than anything else.

Pros:

Surprisingly, my N7 2013 is currently my most frequently used mobile device.   I actually prefer to use my N7 over my phone due to the increased screen real estate.  Emails, reading web pages, and watching videos in general is much more pleasant.  I make phone calls with Groove IP or Talkatone.  I even find myself occasionally using tethering on my phone to create a wireless access point for the N7 when in the passenger seat of a car.   One of these times, I also had an iPad 4 with me, but the iPad was much more cumbersome to use in the cramped seating space. For example, I could easily hold the N7 in one hand and scroll with my thumb through web pages and books while holding a coffee in the other hand.  When on vacation, I also found that the N7 was a nice device to have around: it can store travel guides and maps and is easy to carry around with other items without weighing your bag down.  I liked that it often wasn’t the biggest or heaviest item in my bag.  Fortunately, water was!  The N7 is nice because the device is more of a complimentary accessory to your other items as opposed to be being a huge and important space-consuming gadget.

Cons:

Even though the 7 inch screen size is sufficient in most cases, sometimes I find myself desiring the even larger screen real estate of the iPad or the Nexus 10.    Although I do carry the N7 around a lot in my pocket.  It’s not like a cell phone.  You really feel the weight of it, and although it’s “pocketable”, it certainly doesn’t fit comfortably in my pocket.    This being said, if I’m just walking around a short distance to get a coffee, it’s really nice to be able to put it in my pocket.  This is something I couldn’t do really with the iPad mini.  Finally, as a more minor point, I like the fit of the N7 2012 in my hand over that of the N7 2013.  But the difference is negligible.

Symmetry-Breaking?

This section doesn’t necessarily apply just to the N7, but to a number of mobile devices.

First, although it seems minor, I really don’t like the micro USB jack.  It’s asymmetric and I always find myself spending too much time connecting the device to charge.   Apple really got this right.  There’s more symmetry in how you can connect the charger. (And as a bonus, there’s even a nice sound that lets me know it’s charging without me having to look at it the screen.   Although there may be apps to make this noise on an Android, I like that default behavior.)

One thing that has always bugged me about phones and tablets in general—and it is especially apparent with the new N7—is the fact that the power button, volume controls, and camera on the device inherently define a standard orientation to the device.   However, I can flip it in any orientation I want on the software end of things.  This causes the problem of me thinking I know where the power button or volume controls are but realizing that I’m actually turned 180 degrees from where I thought I was.  One solution is to lock the screen, but then I can’t rotate it 90 degrees without unlocking it first.   The solution I think here is to have the default behavior only allow two settings: portrait and landscape.  They always keep the same orientation with respect to the physical buttons and cameras on the device, so the hardware-software mappings are always clear.  I know it may seem odd and freedom-limiting, but I think it makes for a more consistent user experience.

Back Camera

The iPad mini takes the trophy here.  The N7 back camera was something I was looking forward to a lot.  The camera on my HTC One X is great, and I was hoping for a similar experience.  The quality is decent, but I generally liked the iPad mini’s photo-taking experience much better.  The pictures turned out much better and I’m not sure what combination of software and hardware this is due to.   On the software end, I also think making the camera for a larger tablet behave the same as that of a phone is a little awkward.  It might be more natural to use some of the screen real estate for controls and manipulation of the images after taking shots or videos.  I say, if the device is that big, why not throw a really nice camera on it so the photo experience is actually upgraded, not trivially scaled-up.

Links To Nice Video Reviews

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