Despite my preference of Mac OS X over any other operating system on my computers, I am not really tied down to one operating system or platform. I use them out of habit and comfort. I have been on Mac based platforms since my first computer in 1992. I am able to recognize that there are other platforms out there and the pendulum of technology can switch to another direction on a whim. Next to my Mac Pro is a PC running Windows 7 that I use regularly as my gaming PC. I interact with Mac, Windows and Linux systems at work and on a regular basis I have to make them play nice with each other.
On the mobile front, I have been mostly iOS based. It’s not that I had no interest in using Android, it’s just that… Ok I really had no interest in using Android at all. My first dabbling with Android was when I purchased a Viewsonic GTab on special at Woot a few years ago. It was cheap enough and almost impossible to brick while having a fairly beefy (at the time) Tegra 2 in it. I figured I am going to have to use it to learn Android because who knows what the future holds in the realm of mobile devices. Thanks to an active community, there are still unofficial OS releases to this day supporting the tablet. I lost interest in it awhile ago. The speed and workarounds to get an unofficial OS working on an unsupported device became to frustrating. I had also gotten an iPad through work which I was using for the time.
After reading up on the 2013 Nexus 7 shortly after Google’s announcement, I decided I was going to pick one up. The iPad, while nice and in my comfort zone, was only an iPad 2 and starting to show its age speed and screen wise. I also find myself with less and less of a need for a 9 inch tablet. I was pretty much using it to read books for book club or technical manuals for work, watch Netflix and play an occasional game. The screen of the Nexus 7 from the descriptions and reviews sounded phenomenal and the form factor of the unit would be a nice fit for my needs of book reading, media consumption and occasional game playing.
Long story short, I got one and here are my less than a week opinions on the device.
What’s in the box for the 2013 Nexus 7.
Within these first few days of use, I am impressed by the hardware package itself. The screen is stunning at 1920×1200 resolution on a 7 inch screen is a size that is perfect for me to use. I do enjoy the larger screen real estate that an iPad provides, I just don’t use one for enough real world applications to justify carrying it around. Everything is lighting responsive at this point in time with Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) on current hardware. If there is one thing I am familiar with on Android devices though is that once the new model is out the others fall by the wayside fast. I will have to see if it is just as kicking a year from now.
Android 4.3 on a device designed to run it is really responsive. This whole time that I have been using Android on my old Viewsonic GTab, it was slow and clunky and ended with frustration. I knew that it was because it was being shoehorned onto a device not designed to run it, but I didn’t realize it was THAT bad. After using the Nexus 7 for a day I see how much faster it is on a unit designed for it. There are a lot of user interface decisions that I am not a fan of (especially in the realm of the back button that is part of the always on screen touch controls) there are some others that I am a fan of like the different on screen displays depending on how you are holding the device and the level of customization you get with the home screen(s).
A side by side of my new Nexus 7 next to my old ass Viewsonic GTab.
With my enjoyment of the hardware and underlying OS, my complaints start to form. The biggest one is my issues with the Google Play Store. I just don’t trust a majority of the applications that are on there for sale or for free where I would want to put them on a device I own. I have read too many horror stories about malware and applications with “unwanted” features popping up on the store to want to install anything other than applications I know exist on Apple’s AppStore or have been thoroughly vetted by other publications. Because of this, the amount of applications I plan on installing on this device are severely limited. Most of the big name applications on the Play Store also have iOS equivalents which I already own. I am dissuaded from purchasing the Android counterpart by this. I am excited by the emulation options that may be possible with this device after syncing up with a Playstation 3 controller.
I am going to explorer the Google Play Store a bit more in the near future and configure my homescreen a bit more to my liking. At this point in time, I am satisfied with my purchase as a general use tablet with a primary focus as a reading and web surfing device. It hasn’t become a portable gaming device for me yet (that is still reserved for my Vita), but it has replaced my work iPad for just about every other function. I will have to post a followup to this review. But at the rate that I update here, who knows when that will happen?
How big the thing is when holding it.