You would think that after all of the frustration and hair pulling that came along with getting the Google (Asus) Nexus 7, I would in tablet utopia. Well…not so much. Three full weeks have passed since I first unboxed the the Nexus 7, and it has become abundantly clear that it is just not for me. What’s that old line when you’re breaking up? — “It’s not you, it’s me.” That sentiment couldn’t be more appropriate. The Nexus 7 is an incredibly competent tablet. The screen is great. The hardware is solid. The updated Android operating system works really well. Apps, for the most part, performed the way they should. So what’s the problem?
It’s just too small.
Interestingly, a good number of people love the Nexus 7 for that very reason — it’s small. Not tiny, but small. My wife has an iPad2, which I, at times, feel can be a bit unwieldy. However, no matter how convenient the Nexus 7’s size may be, the bottom line is that I just couldn’t warm up to using it. Again, everything looks great, but it’s kinda like looking at a tilt shift image. Things are clear, but almost miniature.
I don’t know. Maybe my eyes are just going bad, and I need a tablet like the JitterBug phone.
photo credit: shambhub
So, there it is. I gave the Nexus 7 a try, but it just didn’t work out. Forunately, I have already found it a loving home.
In my Nexus 7 initial impressions piece, posted over the weekend, I was a bit critical of Google Now. I made a point of carrying the Nexus 7 with me every day to see if Google Now would “learn” from my movements. I did not have an active WiFi signal during the day at work, but the Nexus 7 does have GPS built in, so I assumed that it would keep track of my movements. Sadly, it didn’t do that. I made a point of connecting the Nexus 7 to my phone, via a 3G WiFi hotspot, when I traveled to Atlanta last Friday. While Google Now did recognize where I was, and offered a travel time map — that map was not connected with my destination within Atlanta. It merely provided the driving time from Hartsfield/Jackson to downtown Atlanta.
Today, I made a point of keeping the 3G WiFi hotspot active throughout the day. I unlocked the Nexus 7 this afternoon and Google Now displayed some cards that I hadn’t seen before.
As you can see, at the top of the Google Now screen is a card with an estimate of my commute time to home. What’s interesting about the traffic card is that it appears to know that I don’t take the Washington Beltway home in the evenings because of traffic. I do travel the Beltway in the mornings, so I will keep an eye on what the card displays tomorrow morning.
Next up is the weather card. This cards is normally at the first card in the stack.
Below the weather is where things got interesting. There is a card displaying transportation (bus) schedules for the bus stop near my office. Below the transportation card were several cards for businesses near my office, including Whole Foods, LA Fitness, and a couple of restaurants. The cards displayed operating hours, and gave me the option to get more information or check in.
One card that I swiped away before taking the screen captures was a place card for the movie theater I went to on Saturday. Interestingly, I searched for movie times with the Nexus 7, but did not take the tablet with me. While I am a little puzzled about why my flight searches didn’t produce a card, it’s pretty cool to see that Google Now is trying to interpret my searches and create, potentially, relevant cards.
I don’t know if keeping the WiFi connection open was the key for the addition of these new cards, but the appearance of these new cards is very encouraging. If improvement of cards displayed on Google Now is contingent on having an Internet connection, than I now more fully understand why Josh Topolsky on The Verge stated that he felt that Google Now was much more useful on the Galaxy Nexus than on the Nexus 7. The Galaxy Nexus has a constant connection, where as the Nexus 7 needs access to WiFi to update data on many, if not all, of the cards.) I plan to take the Metro (subway) and/or the bus to work a few days this week. I’d like to see if the transportation card starts to add departure times for the Metro station closest to my office.
Though it wasn’t a well-kept secret, Google announced the launch of the Nexus 7 tablet today at its developer conference, Google I/O. If you are not familiar with the Nexus name, Google uses the moniker to designate flagship Android devices, which (typically) run stock Android and are the first to get system updates.
Though just about every company is trying to grab some of Apple’s tablet mojo, it’s no secret that Amazon’s seven-inch Kindle Fire, which is powered by Android, was the target. It was recently reported that Amazon is expected to release an updated Kindle Fire tablet at the end of July.
As the name would suggest, the Nexus 7 is a seven-inch tablet. It will run Android 4.1 (Jellybean), which was also announced today. The Nexus 7 will come in two memory configurations — 8GG for $199 and 16GB for $249. Here is a short video from Google about the development of the Nexus tablet.
If you’re interested, here is the introduction of the Nexus 7 at today’s Google I/O keynote.
As I mentioned, Google rolled out the latest release of it Android operating system today.
Check out Cnet’s recap of some of the new features in Android 4.1 — Jelly Bean.
Not wanting to be left in the dust by Siri, Google has make significant enhancements to its voice commands. (It’s worth noting that the voice commands on Android devices was already pretty good.) Incorporated with the Jelly Bean OS update will something called Google Now. Here is Google’s teaser video.
Now, for a more practical, real-life perspective, check out The Verge’s walkthrough of Google Now on the Nexus 7. He even finishes with a comparison of Google Now and Apple’s Siri.
The Google Play store also received an update. The big news is the availability of magazines, TV shows, and an expanded library of movie titles.
I spotted a review of the Nexus 7 by Josh Topolsky this morning on The Verge, and thought that it would be additive to this post.
I have been thinking about picking up a tablet for a while. I thought about the iPad, but started to lean away from it only because I will likely buy a MacBook Air. That left me thinking that I would probably fare better with a seven-inch tablet. I must admit that this is a shift for me. I originally thought the seven-inch tablets were too small — kinda like a paperback book compared to a hard cover. I’m hard cover kind of guy. With that said, though, I think the size and weight of a seven-inch tablet is more conducive to what I’d use it for — reading books, magazine articles, and quick browsing. This is something that I’d likely carry in my messenger bag. At 12 ounces, it’s much lighter than the 1 1/2 pound iPad, Galaxy Tab, or upcoming Microsoft Surface. In this size category, the Kindle Fire was at the top of my list, but I’ve been hearing rumors about Google’s tablet for months. Asus makes good hardware, but, quite honestly, it is the Nexus badge on this tablet that tipped my hand. As soon as the Google Play store was updated today, I put in my pre-order for the 8GB Nexus 7. It is scheduled to ship mid-July. Of course, I will definitely be back here with a “first impressions” piece, and follow up with a more substantive review.
What about you? Are you in the market for a tablet? Does the Nexus 7 pique your interest? Let me know in the comments.