Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nexus 7 Review

My wife and I got a Google Nexus 7 last week. We thought it would be a good device for our children to play with or watch videos on, especially on long trips. It might also make a good browser or reading device.  I've had a good chance to play with it enough to give it a review.

Hardware

We ended up purchasing the 32GB model, not because that was our first choice but because it was a journey getting it. We originally wanted the 16GB model but it seemed nowhere had it. After calling the Staples in Colonie they confirmed they had one in stock but when we went there it was a return that they can't sell. So the worker told us the North Greenbush store had one instock. After travelling there, they said they did't have one either but offered to give us the 32GB at a discount (though we had to pay for it there and go back to Colonie to pick it up since they didn't have any of those in stock either). Going back to Colonie they worker said the other store lied to them (which is why I imagine they offered to give us the discount). I can't see any way that we would fill up the 32GB but I would have liked to have an SD card slot.

Anyway, the model we have does not have moble data. I can't imagine needing it already having the Android phones and at worst I might need to tether. The wifi is good enough since we'll be using it at home mostly anyway. It seems to pick up other wifi interference more than our other devices and I wish it had 5Ghz wifi so I can find a more free channel.
 
The speed is excellent. There isn't any waiting for the tablet to perform. I'm not certain about the charge, it doesn't seem to last the claimed 8 hours but I also don't know if its been fully charged. The size is great, not too big that you need two hands all the time but not too small to see. We can use it with one hand while holding a kid with the other. We did get some Velcro finger grips to help hold it.

Software - Jelly Bean

One of my favorite features compared to my phone is the updated operating system.  It is quite very slick and doesn't seem as cumbersome as the Gingerbread running on my phone. I like the new notifications tray and system settings drop down. I thought I wouldn't like the software buttons instead of physical buttons but they work equally as well.  Some have mentioned missing the settings button but it has always been there (or elsewhere on the screen) when I needed it. The loss of the search button is no big deal, I rarely used it anyway.  I also didn't think the recent apps button would be nearly as useful as it actually is: perfect for multitasking. With the new OS also comes the ability to have some updated apps.

Apps

After looking through the apps on my phone I was trying to find ones that would work well on the tablet. Since my phone has the advantage of making calls most of the apps on the phone aren't helpful on the tablet. But there is a slew of new apps which are great on the Nexus 7.

Chrome - The best app for the Nexus 7 is by far Google Chrome. I'm a huge Chrome fan and it is light-years ahead of the default browser on Gingerbread. We used to have a GTablet by Viewsonic but sold it because browsing was horrible and that was it's main purpose. We didn't get the Nexus 7 strictly for browsing but it definitely excels. My only wish was that Chrome apps and extensions were included but these features can be added with additional apps:


LastPass - With more browsing being done on the tablet its time to finally get LastPass Premium ($1/month). If you aren't using LastPass, do it, check it out! You can automatically fill your credentials in with the "Share" menu in Chrome.

2SendTab - We have 4 computers in our house and the tablet. If I see something awesome on the Internet and want to share, the easiest way is the Chrome extension SendTab (sendtab.com). This app lets me share a webpage between the tablet and any computer both ways.


Calendar - Again, way better than previous versions, the Google Calendar app is actually usable and useful. It might be the larger size of the table but since I use GCal often it is more familiar than the old calendar app.

ADW Launcher - This app I use on my phone mainly for the ability to organize the app drawer and the dockbar. Highly recommended, no more searching through your drawer for that app you need!

TWC TV - Time Warner Cable will let you watch live tv on your computer or Android device, change channels and program your DVR. Unfortunately you need aleast Android 4.0 for live TV so I didn't get to try this until getting the Nexus. It works as advertised and we are no longer stuck watching Nick Jr on the TV when our daughter wants to watch a show before bed.

Stick It - Lets you open a video or YouTube videos in the background so you can listen in while multi-tasking. You can also pin the video over what you are doing.

VPlayer - Great video player, has many codecs so you don't have to convert your video files, saving time.

Review

Overall, the Nexus 7 is a great device. It clearly fills the niche of video watching that it was purchased for. It also makes a great browser which is primarily what my wife uses (used) her laptop for. I haven't seen her use the laptop since we got the tablet. (That might also be because I may have broken her speakers when I last fixed her laptop). She also says that reading on the Nexus 7 doesn't hurt her eyes like a computer screen would and will probably use it more than her Kindle Touch since it has a backlight. Great for getting our recipes from Google Drive into the kitchen. We could have also purchased a Kindle Fire HD but I'm glad we don't have to both with being restricted to Amazon or trying to root the device. I am very satisfied with this tablet.

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