An Android Hater's view of Nexus 7
A friend of mine got his Nexus 7 on Thursday and has left it with me today as he is off to a cricket match. So I thought I'd put down a few thoughts about using it. I have an iPhone 4S an and iPad2 to compare it with.
Let me say first, I am an Android hater. I despise what Google has done in terms of copying other peoples' products, abusing the open-sourse movement for this own greedy ends and trying to reduce software to where it can only be profited from by advertising. Having said that I am trying to be objective here and the Android software itself has some really nice features and has improved hugely over the buggy heap of crap that was on phones I was selling two years ago. It has also improved cosmetically over Honeycomb which was the last version I used a fair bit - it felt like somebody's attempt to make something that looks high tech with out really knowing what it means. Like a cheap sci-fi movie
Build and Quality.
It feels nicely made, the soft backing give a good grip. It feels thicker that I'd imagined disproportionately beside the iPad which is much larger and thinner) but not uncomfortable so. Much is made of the 7 inch form factors portability and while it will fit some trouser pockets (like cargos) it will be so vulnerable, it is not realistic. It will fit in a ladies bag, it an outside lower suit pocket and in some but not all inside ones. It is very noticeable it is there. Another guy in our office got one at the same time and it has had to go back due to the popped screen problem. I think this one is OK but it does seem to "give" a bit at the bottom of both sides of the screen
The screen is lovely - playing movies on it a one of it's core strengths. It side by side with the iPad playing Tron Legacy produced pretty much a similar experience despite the bigger screen on the iPad. The youtube app is also really good as you'd expect Google music also works well and loaded very fast although the owner only has few albums up. My iTunes match as 23,000 tracks so takes a while to load. Playback quality is pretty poor on the speaker but OK on headphones.
Only had a few common to both devices:
Fruit Ninja - best on the Nexus - big enough for a good display but small enough to move your fingers fast
Angry Birds Space - better on the iPad due to the bigger screen and being able to hold it at a more natural distance
Bejewelled - pretty much the same on all of them
Minecraft - not my thing but my son put it on and crashed the first couple of times on the Nexus. Rebooting the device fixed it. He said it was better than on his iTouch but not as much as you'd epect. All mobile devices seem to struggle for memory with this
The Chrome browser is really nice. Loads fast and caches more content than Safari on either iDevice. The downside is it slows noticeably when lots of tabs or lots of other apps are open. Its also still not as slick as Safari when zooming or flicking around a large page. It's leagues ahead of Honeycomb though. Where it still has problem that are common to every small device, is selecting and entering data on pages that have not been designed for small devices. It is so hard to zoom to the right size to select and enter without doing something else. The larger iPad avoid this mostly. I don't like top tabs but that is a personal thing
The Nexus reaffirmed the same issues that I had using the original Tab and Playbook. It is fine for two thumb typing in portrait but crap for landscape. If you thumb type while holding the device you cant hit the middle keys. Lay it down and you are into typing with two index fingers. No way you can type with multiple fingers. There is also the problem of hitting the soft keys accidentally with your thumb. (Worth noting also that the soft keys rob screen space too) One big change is the responsiveness of the keys. On every other Android device I've used you are slowed by waiting to see if it has registered the press. This is so much better.
Google's voice recognition seems pretty good at first when given simple commands but stumbled at more complex natural speaking things and the dictation as nowhere near as good as Dragon on my iPad or Siri on the iPhone. It is hard to know how much this is because I've been using those devices and they have learned how I speak and I have learned things they have problems with. Reviews seem to rate it highly.
I dont use either of my iDevices as a book reader but the Nexus looks to be a good size for that . Text is crisp and clear and the size is book sized. My wife. who has a Kindle, though the screen brightness and reflection would be tiring long term.
Apart from that, there is still a lot that is the same as other version of Android I have used. The desktop with widgets metaphor that fans rave about but to me seems pointless (it was set up with four home screens, two widgets on the first and one on each of the others) to have to go to the desktop to do anything is no quicker than having the app launched and switching to it. I stuck a few more on to try but there was nothing that made me think "hey it is great being able to see "X" and "Y" at the same time There is also the point that "killer apps" are all Google proprietary so Android is, in reality, just as closed as Windows unless you want a very limited experience.
Certainly the best Android device I have ever used.
Would I buy one ? No, because I hate what Android represents.
Would I buy one if it wasn't for all the Google bull? Maybe. It is certainly at a price point where you could buy it on a whim and if you didn't like it you haven't lost too much. I am not convinced I have a personal use for one as it overlaps with both my phone and my iPad and couldn't replace either. Mind you, I thought that about my iPad as I thought it would overlap my MBA. For people who have big Android phones, the overlap is even bigger
People who are going to buy iPads purely as media consumption device should certainly look at it (or the Apple version it it comes) but it is not a realistic business device because of its size (same can be said of the Playbook). Even though the difference between 7 and 9.7 doesn't sound much, in reality it is half the size and that is a big difference in useable space.