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Google Nexus 7 (2012) Review

I've noticed recently that since I carry my iPad around with me everywhere that I've been getting a lot more questions from people I know and meet about what type of tablet they should get.  While I follow the mobile market as close as possible, all my current experiences are with an iPad.

I am a huge fan of the iPad for me (see previous posts), but recently I've been really curious if all the buzz around the Nexus 7 and the latest Andriod OS 4.1.2 and future 4.2 (Jelly Bean) were true.

Related to this topic, is my ongoing evaluation of Windows 8 on a touch screen enabled HP laptop, the release of Microsoft Surface/Windows RT (no experience), and the new Apple iPad Mini (no experience).

So, I decided to expand my experiences and look for a used Google Nexus 7.  I was able to pick one up locally here in San Diego for $150 (25% off list) so that sealed the deal.

Google-nexus-7-blog-graphic

So here is my first impression after opening the box.  Nice hardware -- the rubber back feels great in my hands, and the smaller form factor (~7-inch) is excellent. To be honest it really brings back memories of the Apple Newton.  In fact, one of the cases I had for my Apple Newton, that I was using for my Marantz recorder, easily holds the Nexus 7, so that is my case at the moment.

After using the device pretty much full time this past weekend, the current Andriod OS (4.1.2) is suprisingly easy to use, and I haven't found too many issues or problems I couldn't solve on the device.  It is defintiely more technical than Apple iOS, but that shouldn't cause any real issues, even for a novice.  The comments from others in the mobile analysis arena that there is now parity between this version of Andriod and iOS. I think this is a pretty accurate assessment from my short testing.

I find the integration with Google very tight, and if you are a heavy Google user (Gmail, Docs, Reader, Maps, Play, etc) than the Nexus 7 is an excellent tablet.  The new Google Now is a very good tool that floats up information that is pretty meaningful to me (weather, calendar items, sports scores, traffic, etc).  I also think the Widgets on the home/main screen are very power for getting quick updates to key information.

Some things that are working against me with the Nexus 7: no rear-facing camera (I use my iPad camera daily); trying to not purchase any software that I've already paid for iOS; screen seems to get dirtier than the new iPad (about has bad as the original iPad); and missing some core applications that I have on iOS (some games, native Toodledo app, iThoughtsHD, etc).

Some useful Nexus 7 features: integrated GPS and NFS; micro USB charger; Google Wallet; integrated speaker is similar to the iPad (maybe not as loud but good enough); and software buttons on the front for back, home screen, and running applications (ie. scrolling app switcher).

While I had some application gaps, there was a relatively high parity in standard applications that I use regularly on iOS: Amazon shopping, Bible, Camera+ alternatives, Drive, Evernote, Hulu Plus, LastPass, Dropbox, Netflix, PocketBible (alpha), RedBox, and Stitcher.  It is also good to know that there are really two main application stores: one from Google (Play) and one from Amazon (AppStore).  I recommend checking both to see if there is a possible deal between the two.

So, am I going to keep the Nexus 7 in my toolkit? I think so, but it might not be my main tablet. I'm going to keep using it as my main tablet for the next week or so and then re-evaluate my options.  

That would also include trying out the iPad Mini.  And I think another option is one tablet for home (aka the iPad) and one for being out-and-about (the Nexus).