Nexus 7 (2012)

Nexus 7 tablet image

So last month I bought my first tablet – a Google/Asus Nexus 7.

Nexus 7 tablet
Courtesy of Google Play Store

There hasn’t been much in the way of gadget updates here in a while, due mainly to a lack of necessity and general interest to be honest, but one of my personal situations, is that I have a decent commute to deal with on a daily basis, and I’ve wanted something with a slightly larger screen to watch documentaries than my phone, and read some textbooks on which are mainly .pdf based, and thus a little too complex for my normal Kindle Reader. One thing I have learned from my Kindle though, is that that form factor is great for reading whilst sitting or standing on the train.

The iPad never really grabbed me for this task, just feeling that bit too bulky and heavy, and judging from my fellow commuters, that must have been right as there aren’t many people with them on my JR line.

Previous Android tablets just seemed to lack a certain polish to me, but when the Nexus 7 came out, it piqued my interest, so I put a bit of money aside, and picked up the 32GB version (24,800yen / ~290USD/ ~ 180GBP)  the same weekend the iPad Mini came out – though that was 13,000yen more!

The Tegra 3 based hardware is excellent, and rugged – the rear mounted speaker is surprisingly good for film watching and podcasts, and the sound quality via the headphone socket seems decent. The tablet is snappy, and media playback of even 720p material on the 1280×800 display looked fantastic. There’s no point me going overboard on details here – you can easily pull reviews of this thing off the web. One the hardware side though, note that you don’t get headphones or much else with this – just a USB power adapter and micro USB cable.

My only previous Android experience had been on a phone I borrowed, so I was essentially new to the Android system. It probably took as long to figure out as an iOS device really, from scratch. The Google Play store isn’t bad but it takes a little getting used the scary sounding access rights the apps ask for, but basically this is just putting up front what iOS apps are doing anyway. As for finding the apps, I’m still figuring out some equivalents – all the main social apps are there, but I’m still looking for a podcatcher like Downcast, though I’m currently testing a few out. I have to say though, being able to just install stuff on this thing after plugging it in, and not have to mess around with iTunes feels great, though you now sort-of have to manage the files. Also note you need a special app installed on a Mac to mount it currently (Android File Transfer).

In summary then, the Nexus 7 has exceeded my expectations – it’s very smooth and reliable, has decent battery life, and can survive being the recipe guide during Sunday Dinner preparations and  has survived both kids abusing it. (Note that for novels, I still use the Kindle)