Sunday 19 August 2012

Nexus 7 impressions

I purchased the 16GB Nexus 7 a week ago, this is the Google-branded Android tablet manufactured by Asus. I had delayed buying a tablet because I already had a Kindle as well as an Android smartphone, leaving relatively few areas where I thought a tablet could add value. Also since I'm usually lugging a camera, four lenses and various other photography-related stuff bag space is at a premium and carrying another device didn't really appeal.

With the release of the Nexus 7, the price/performance became a lot more attractive and I was curious if it could displace any of my other devices. A couple of clicks later an order was placed, with an outlook of 3-5 days for delivery. Just 27 hours later I had the Nexus 7 in my hands, so kudos to Google and TNT for making the order and delivery process work perfectly.

First impressions were good, it is a slick device with a quality feel to it. It started up quickly and after logging on to my Google account it synched my calendar, email etc. The larger screen provides some advantage when dealing with the everyday tasks, but after a week I still find myself reading email on the phone as often as on the tablet.

Compared to the Kindle the Nexus has several drawbacks. The screen, while great for other uses, does not provide the relaxing reading experience of E Ink and is much less usable in direct sunlight. The added weight is noticeable and depending on how the device is held I found it induces some wrist strain. Finally battery endurance is considerably lower. All things considered I don't expect the Nexus 7 will make my Kindle obsolete.

As far as apps are concerned, I've tested maybe 20 different apps and found the tablet provides a fast and stable platform. In fact I am very impressed with the overall performance of the tablet and greatly prefer using it over my phone. As an added bonus the Nexus 7 comes with a £15 Google Play credit that can be used to check out paid apps without dipping deeper into the wallet.

Browsing works well, with fast page loading and very few problems over a week of use. I did run into an issue with the captcha for Flickr login, it was displayed off-centre and partially obscured. Browsing high quality pictures works well on the tablet and is definitely preferable over using the much smaller phone screen.

YouTube video playback works well, but checking messages consistently generated an error message 'invalid response received'.

I used Skype video-calling for about an hour on the tablet. While it is not a certified device it worked great and I did not run into any problems. I used a Bluetooth Jabra Wave headset which again worked perfectly, with good sound quality and no connectivity issues.

Finally I tested the battery standby time by charging the Nexus 7 to full, then leaving it for 24 hours with Wifi turned off. Afterwards it was showing 96% battery charge remaining which I'm happy with.

In conclusion, this tablet provides a really great user experience at a very competitive price-point. If you've been thinking about getting a tablet I'd definitely recommend checking out the Nexus 7. The only exception is if you are looking primarily for a reading device as the Kindle remains superior for that particular use.

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