Nexus 7 first thoughts

Last week I took delivery of a Nexus 7 – the new tablet made by Asus for Google to show off the new version of their mobile operating system, Android.

There was quite a lot of buzz about the device, partially because it marks a new high in terms of build quality of Android tablets, but also because of the form factor. Rather than matching the size of the iPad, the Nexus 7, with it’s 7 inch screen, takes a slightly different road.

The other, potentially killer, feature of the Nexus 7 is its price point – about £160 for the cheaper 8gb model.

Anyway, I’ve been playing with it for a few days, and here are some early thoughts:

  • The size is really interesting. Definitely feels like a massive phone, rather than a tiny computer. It’s easy to carry around the house or office with you, making it more handy than an iPad, which I feel still remains a bit heavy
  • There’s no slot for a sim card, so no built in cellular data connection. Means you need to be near a wifi connection at all times. Not a problem for me as I have a portable 3g wifi thingy, and as I already pay for three different mobile data plans, I didn’t really want another. However, this may be an issue for those without.
  • No camera on the back, just a front facing one for video calls etc. People taking photos with a tablet look like doofuses so it isn’t really an issue, although I’ve always liked the idea of the iPad as a great all-in-one social reporting device – it’ll record video and audio, let you take photos etc; then edit them and upload them. Can’t do that with a Nexus 7.
  • Google Reader on this thing rocks! I love scanning through stuff, starring the interesting bits so they post to Twitter, saving others to read in more depth later. Again, the weight and form factor makes this a comfortable experience.
  • Surprised at how bad the official Google Drive (was Docs) app is – I had to buy QuickOffice to make editing Google documents a bit easier.
  • The Nexus 7 really does look exactly like a huge Galaxy Nexus phone (which is the smallest device in the photo above). Not a problem, although I do feel like a massive twerp owning both.
  • Playing games is easier on the Nexus 7 for me than the iPad, again because of the size and weight. I’m not a big game player, having no ability to concentrate for more than a minute at a time, so the little time waster games on the Nexus work quite well for me.
  • The Android store does feature apps like the excellent iAnnotate PDF which is a blessing for those who like to go paperless into meetings – and is a potential winner for councillors and indeed officers
  • However, there are apps that won’t run on the Nexus 7, for whatever reason.

So, overall? It’s not as good as the iPad. Android isn’t as nice as iOS, the build quality isn’t up to the same standard and the range of apps on iOS is still better.

However, the form factor is interesting and there are times when using the Nexus 7 is a better experience because of the size and weight.

The other thing though is the price. This thing is seriously good value. It puts very usable, high quality tablets at a very affordable price into the marketplace. For those that baulked at paying £400 or more for an iPad, the Nexus 7 could well be a very attractive option.