Google Nexus 7 – Is It Worth The Hype?

Nexus - screenWith a great deal of fanfare the Google Nexus 7 tablet arrived on the market and supply has caught up with demand.  This being the case I went to my local Staples store (Staple’s has an exclusive on the Nexus 7 tablet) and picked one up.  Imagine my disappointment after reading all the glowing reviews.  The Nexus 7 turns out to be a very ordinary tablet unless you are a hardcore gamer.  But, if you are a hardcore gamer it should be worth it to you to have the larger screen and better performance of an iPad 2 or 3.  And yes, I know the Nexus 7 has a quad core processor vs. iPad only has a duo-core processor, but there is more to gaming performance than processor power.

For the average person, like me, who simply wants to read a book, watch a video or browse the web the Nexus 7 is a poor choice.  Here are the reasons:

  1. The Nexus 7 doesn’t support Flash.  This affects  a lot of websites.  I wasn’t able to watch a single video on CNN as every single one I tried required Flash.  Foxnews.com was a different story, all videos played.
  2. The Nexus doesn’t always support HTML5.  When Apple decided not to support Flash, they put their weight behind the HTML5 web standard.  I assumed that Google would do the same when Adobe declined to support Android 4.0+.  I don’t know what is wrong with the Nexus 7 Chrome browser, but website video that will play on a first generation iPad will not work with the Nexus 7.
  3. The speaker quality is poor.  The speakers are tinny and not very loud.  Once again the 1st generation iPad wins hands down.
  4. The user interface is very good, but odd in one respect.  Most screens will rotate to match the  Nexus viewing position, either Portrait (upright) or Landscape.  However, with the Nexus 7,  the Home screen always must be viewed  with the Nexus in the upright position.
  5. Because there is no physical button on the front of the Nexus to act as a visual cue, I sometimes found it difficult to locate the on/off button which is hidden on the side.
  6. Steve Jobs was right.  A 7” inch screen just isn’t big enough for web browsing or work related activities.  It’s fine for Angry Birds though.
  7. The back of the Nexus 7 heated up quickly when playing a video.  It wasn’t objectionable but it was noticeable.
  8. Battery life doesn’t seem to be quite as good as advertised.  I took a full charge down to less than half charged in slightly less than 3 hours…  watching no more than 15 minutes of video.  The rest of the time I was downloading apps and surfing the net and reading a book.

 

The Nexus 7 does have some interesting features such as Google Now which is Google’s answer to Apple’s Siri.  Google Now, like Siri, is voice activated and is useful for things like finding out the weather forecast or the nearest restaurant.  The only problem with it is it’s the kind of feature I want on my phone, not on my tablet.

The tablet speed is very good.  Everything happens quickly.  No faster than an iPad but fast.  Screens change smoothly and apps work quickly.  The Kindle app works well as does Google’s own Google Play reader.  Once again though, even though the Nexus 7 has better resolution, the text quality is just a little better on the iPad.  This probably has to do with the way the text is rendered; Steve Jobs always took particular pride in the quality of the text on Apple devices.  Also, even the first generation iPad screen is brighter and whiter than the Nexus.

As many other reviewers have said, purchase your tablet based on what you are going to use it for.  The problem with the Nexus, is I couldn’t find anything I cared about that it excelled at.  The main thing the Nexus 7 has in in ts favor is low price.  At $200 the Nexus 7 is $300 cheaper than the iPad Retina and $200 cheaper than the generation 2 iPad.  But having spent time with the Nexus 7, I think I’ll save my money for the iPad Retina.

One last thing.  The power cord for the Nexus 7 is only 3 feet long.  Really?  They couldn’t afford the extra buck for a longer cord?  It’s a little thing but a real pain.  I imagine Google is losing money on every one of these they sell but still, don’t drive your customers crazy with a short power cord.  Like Amazon with the Fire, Google hopes to make up the loss based on the sale of apps, music, books and movies.  However, based on my experience with the Nexus 7, Google may not see as much extra revenue as they expect.