At some point this evening, between the Verizon Wireless store and Qdoba, both in Rockville, MD, someone stole my brand new Nexus 7. If you’ve been reading my blog in the last week or so, you know how much I went through just to get the damned thing. Now it’s gone. I didn’t even realize that the Nexus 7 was gone until I got home. I hold myself accountable because I left the tablet out of my backpack on the back seat. (I am also kicking myself for not enabling the lock screen on the Nexus 7.) Clearly, I must have left the doors to the car unlocked, because the windows are in tact and there was no forceable entry.
Of course, once I discovered that I had been jacked, I scrambled to change every conceivable password, disable Google Wallet, and offered up a generous heaping of curse words for the new owner of my Nexus 7. I also pushed the Plan B app to the Nexus 7 in the hopes that if someone connects the device to a WiFi network, I will be able to see its whereabouts. If it’s on a wireless network long enough, I can let the police know.
I am really bummed about this; but I admit that part of me wonders if it just wasn’t meant to be. Perhaps all the hassles with shipping were an omen that I should have heeded.
In life, it is important to give credit where credit is due — particularly when someone makes good on correcting a mistake.
Responsiveness and thoughtful actions are how companies build loyal customers. Good on Google for refunding my shipping fees. Now let’s see if UPS follows Google’s lead, and refunds my $40 for the less-than-effective MyChoice service.
I still have a bad taste in my mouth because of the whole ordering and shipping experience. As expected, after the package bouncing around on UPS trucks for the better part of a week, the shipping box was pretty beat up.
Ok. I finally have the Nexus 7 in hand! Now, let me get on with sharing my first impressions.
Fortunately, the shipping box contained an inflated packing bubble, so the retail box for the Nexus 7 was not damaged.
I was forewarned that the Nexus 7 was packed pretty tight into the box, and unboxing could be tricky. The packaging is, indeed, snug, but I managed to get the box open without making too many deposits into my imaginary swear jar.
Many reviewers have stated that back of the Nexus 7 looks like a golf ball. I think these people must not play much golf. To me, it looks like perforated leather, like what you might see on a driving glove, or car seat upholstery.
Though I actually handled a Nexus 7 prior to receiving mine (thanks Francis!), I was surprised at how solid the tablet feels. In my head, I was concerned about the build quality of a $200 tablet. Asus did a really nice job.
The Nexus 7 is built to work with data in the cloud, namely Google Play and other Google services. The lack of internal memory is the biggest clue — just 8GB or 16GB. This reliance on cloud storage becomes even more obvious as you take a quick tour of the exterior of the tablet. There is a power button, volume rocker, headphone jack and a micro-USB port. That’s it.
My wife teases me about being a manual reader. Keeping true to form, I had already perused the Nexus 7 user guide before receiving the tablet — I had enough time (eye roll) — so after taking a tour of the exterior, I powered it up.
The screen is gorgeous! Frankly, I am getting sick of the Apple zombies that throw “But, is it a Retina display?” around. No. First of all, Retina display is Apple’s thing. Everything doesn’t have to be Apple. Secondly, and probably more importantly, I doubt that the average person can discern the difference in pixel density between the Nexus 7 and the new iPad. I can, but it’s not that big of a deal. The screen on the Nexus 7 has deep blacks, rich colors, and the text on the screen is pretty damned sharp.
If you’ve every used an Android device, you know that set up is pretty easy. You simply enter your primary Google or Google Apps email address and you’re off.
This initial setup took all of about two minutes. I did click through things a little too quickly, because I clicked “Ok” for the Nexus 7 to sync all the apps in my Google Play account. I didn’t want it to do that, but I simply uninstalled the apps that I didn’t want once they finished loading. Almost as soon as the Nexus 7 was setup, I received a notification than an update to the operating system was available. That was fast. I clicked “Ok” and let the update do its thing.
Overall, the Nexus 7 is very easy to operate. There is an adjustment, though, if you’re coming to the Jelly Bean version of Android from a device running on Gingerbread. A fair number of the gestures and controls are different, and take a little getting used to. The operative word is “little.” The Jelly Bean version of Android is very intuitive.
Press the power button and you’re presented with a simple image of a lock. Simply taping the lock screen presents you with two options — unlock the device or go to Google Now. I’ll discuss the latter in a moment.
Unlocking the device for the first time, the home screen is populated with an edge-to-edge Google Play store widget.
This widget adjusts as you add to, play, or read items in your Google Play library. It’s an attractive widget. The size of widget, like practically every other widget on the Nexus 7, can be adjusted. Irrespective of the size, I found the widget to be a bit too heavy for my taste. Removing the widget is easy. Simply long-press and drug it toward the top of the screen. Speaking widgets, adding a widget to one of the home screens is no longer performed by long-pressing on the screen. With Ice Cream Sandwich, and above, you have to tap the launcher button and go the widgets tab to select a widget. Long press the desired widget and and drag it to a page.
Sidebar: With the purchase of the Nexus 7, Google has thrown in several free magazines to sample, a free book, the last Transformer movie, and $25 credit in the Google Play store. Not bad.
The handling of notifications in Jelly Bean is quite different than what I’m accustomed to…and that’s a good thing. Gingerbread allowed you to delete individual items in the notifications bar. Ice Cream introduced the ability to swipe individual notifications. Jelly Bean takes the notification a step further with not only swiping, but also rich content. Now, instead of just seeing that I have two messages (email, text), I can swipe down with two fingers of the email notification and see a little bit about each email.
Another new feature that I like is the addition of magazines and TV shows to the Google Play store. Reading magazines on the Nexus 7 is a pretty smooth experience. You can flip through a magazine one page at a time, or you can tap the screen to pull up a slider at the bottom of the screen that lets you skip ahead to any page. You can zoom in on any page, but the traditional spread-to-zoom gesture doesn’t resize the text, though. To get a clear read of a specific article in the magazine, tap the screen and click “view text” at the top right of the screen. Google Play Magazine converts the article to a clean, readable article, that you can scroll through left-to-right.
One operational issue I’ve encountered with the Nexus 7 has to do with the physical design. The power button and the volume rocker are too close to each other. I find myself turning off the screen when I’m trying to turn up the volume. This is particularly annoying when watching a video because the video stops when the screen goes dark.
Depending on who you ask, Google Now is either described as a Apple Siri beater, or a shameless, inferior, knock off of Siri. I couldn’t care less about comparisons. I just want to know if the product performs as promised. Here is the video introducing Google Now.
In my experience, I found that Google Now is only consistent with a few things — showing the weather, showing driving estimates to-and-from work, and answering most queries accurately. Unfortunately, I have yet to see Google Now “learn” from my queries and add info cards, such as flight information and place suggestions, to my Google Now screen. I recently traveled to Atlanta. I searched my outbound flight more than once, but Google Now never showed me a card for that flight with a status update, on it’s own. I always had to search anew, and that didn’t always give me consistent results. Additionally, I had the flight on my calendar. The calendar notice showed up in Google Now as a small card, but it didn’t interpret that data from that appointment and create a card for the flight. I tried the same thing for my return flight from Atlanta, and experienced the same thing. That was disappointing. I’m also a little stumped why Google Now keeps showing me driving information to work on Saturday and Sunday. I’ve only had the Nexus 7 since Monday, but I haven’t traveled in that direction since Thursday. I don’t know how long it takes for Google Now to learn from my movement patterns, but so far it’s seriously lacking. Likewise, I have been searched for sports scores of some favorite teams every day, but Google Now has yet to automatically show me the schedule for these teams, nor the scores of their games. I’ve tried adjusted the settings, with no success. I’ll stay after it, but Google Now seems like a novelty that isn’t quite ready for prime time. Of course, I’m always prepared to account for user error, but I just don’t see it.
In just a week, my Nexus 7 has had two force closes and one complete device lock up, which required a soft reset to get it working again. Force closes have plagued Android devices, so I truly hope this is not a recurring issue with the Nexus 7.
After one week with the Nexus 7, here’s my honest opinion. The Nexus 7 is a solidly built tablet. The screen is bright and crisp. The Jelly Bean version of Android is a very good improvement from Gingerbread, and even smoother than the devices I’ve seen with Ice Cream sandwich. Though the few glitches I’ve experienced concern me, I don’t think the Nexus 7 is an inherently flawed device.
Here’s the rub for me. The 7″ size would seemingly appel to most people, because it’s more portable and easier to hold than a 10″ tablet. That just doesn’t hold up for me. Maybe my opinion will change after a few more weeks, but right now the Nexus 7 just feels too small. Perhaps it’s because I had been using a 13″ MacBook Pro most of the time. Shrinking the screen down six inches is pretty dramatic for most of the reading that I do online or in Feedly. Additionally, while the keyboard on the Nexus 7 is really nice, I’ve found that I cannot type as well as I do on a physical keyboard. What this means for me is that the Nexus 7 is truly a media consumption device, not something that can serve as a stand-in for a laptop. I’m not suggesting that Google is marketing the Nexus 7 as a laptop replacement — the push has been all about media consumption. Let’s be honest, though, more and more people use iPads and other tablets in lieu of laptops.
If you think a 10″ tablet is too large, but don’t want something dumbed down, the Nexus 7 is probably a great tablet for you. For $200, I am hard-pressed to name anything else on the market that can compete. There are rumors that Apple will likely launch an iPad mini this fall. I doubt that it will be in the same price point, though. I suspect it to run around $250 to start. If Apple integrates a 4G cell radio, the Nexus 7 may be in trouble. I don’t mind the absence of a cell radio. WiFi is enough, and works just fine for me.
I hate to sound like I’m luke warm about the Nexus 7, but I am left wondering after a week whether I really need this device. I guess, if nothing else, I have a nice small tablet that is good to have around the house as well as a lightweight device to add to my bag when traveling. I have been on the fence about e-books, but I have a couple loaded on the Nexus 7. I am going to give one a try to see how I like the reading experience. Something tells me that I will still prefer reading books printed on paper. We’ll see.
So, there you have it. If you have any questions about the Nexus 7, please ask in the comments. I am more than happy to answer, and compare the Nexus 7 to other tablets. (I’ve played around with just about all of them.)
Google’s Order-Fulfillment Cluster F*ck
As noted above, I placed my order on the Google Play store within 30 minutes of the announcement of the Nexus 7 at the Google I/O developer conference. A charge was authorized on my card. (It was only later that I discovered that that amount was never processed.) Fast forward several weeks later, and rumors started to surface that GameStop, Adorama, and Office Depot had received shipments of the tablets. According to reports on Friday, July 13th, retailers were specifically told not to sell or release of of the devices. Nevertheless, GameStop has been handing out Nexus 7s to anyone that pre-ordered, as well as a few that hadn’t. There were a number of people who were running around with their hair on Friday, July 13th. (I’m not superstitious.) My outrage was more tempered and focused than many I saw going apoplectic online. My ire was not directed at GameStop, or those who were able to get their Nexus 7 tablets at retail stores before those of us that ordered through the Google Play store. No, my annoyance is directed squarely at Google.Come on Google. What a shitty way to treat customers who followed your encouragement to order through the Play store!
This is the message that Google delivered on Twitter Friday, July 13th.
Locked and loaded, ready to play: we’ve started shipping +Nexus 7 pre-orders today! google.com/nexus/#/7
— Google Nexus (@googlenexus) July 13, 2012
Of course, yours truly, and probably a number of other people, are not on Twitter. Was it too much for Google to send an update email to all of the people that placed pre-orders through the Google Play store? Friday the 13th came to a close with absolutely no word about shipment from Google. Bummer!
Apparently, the Pony Express finally reached Google’s headquarters with the news of consumer outraged about the bungled release of the Nexus 7. The following message was posted on the Google Play store support page on Tuesday, July 17.
An update on Nexus 7 pre-order shipping status
We’ve had incredible demand for our new Nexus 7 tablet and are shipping them as quickly as possible. When your device ships you will receive a notification from Google Play with a shipping tracking number. We will have all orders placed through July 13 processed and shipped soon. Orders placed after July 13 will ship according to the quoted timeframe when you purchased and we will update you with a tracking number when we’ve shipped. Thanks for your patience.
Below are more specific details by country for devices ordered through July 13. If the below information is not true for you, and you ordered on or before July 13, please reach out to our support team so we can investigate.
In the US:
We’ve shipped all standalone Nexus 7 8GB orders (e.g.: those without a case, charger or Nexus Q). By the end of day on July 19 (PDT), we will have shipped all standalone Nexus 7 16GB orders placed through July 11 (PDT), and upgraded these orders to overnight shipping. We will process the remaining standalone Nexus 7 16GB orders by the end of next week with overnight shipping.
If you ordered your tablet with a case, charger or Nexus Q, your Nexus 7 will ship this week with overnight shipping, in some cases ahead of the rest of your order. But don’t worry, the rest of your order will be on its way soon.
We’ve shipped all Nexus 7 8GB orders. We are in the process of shipping Nexus 7 16GB orders and will ship them in 1–2 weeks.
In the UK:
All Nexus 7 8GB orders will ship by July 20 (BST). All Nexus 7 16GB orders placed through June 30 (BST), will ship by July 20 (BST). The remaining Nexus 7 16GB orders will ship next week.
All Nexus 7 8GB and Nexus 7 16GB orders will be fulfilled by the end of day on July 19 (AEST) and will arrive in 3–5 days.
My Odyssey With UPS
I was greeted Saturday morning, July 14, with an email from Google, sent at 3:33 am.
My excitement about receiving a shipping notification was tempered by the fact that there was not projected delivery date given on the UPS page. There was just a message that the label had been created, but UPS had not yet received the package for shipping. Interesting, as you can see from the email, the label was actually created on Monday, July 9. Why did it take six days to actually set the UPS shipment process in motion?
I got all excited on Tuesday, July 17, because my UPS shipping tracking page showed the I was due to get my Nexus 7 that day. Womp Womp! The UPS page never updated to show that the tablet was “out for delivery.” I called the UPS store where the Nexus 7 was being shipped, and the guy told me, rather matter-of-factly, that he’s pretty sure that they’re not getting any more deliveries for the day. He followed by saying that I should expect to see it the next day. Incredulous, I connected with a UPS rep on its website. The rep told me that the package was, indeed, out for delivery and it would arrive at the UPS store before it closed. I left work and decided to camp out in front of the store from about 6:10 on. Just as my hopes began to crumble, I see a UPS truck rumble up to the store. My heart started to race. The driver go out the truck (spying me looking like a puppy in the window waiting for mama to open the door) and walked into the UPS store. She came out with a number of packages to be shipped. She put the packages in the back of the truck, got settled in her seat, fired up the big brown box, and rolled out. My heart sunk. I got back online with a rep from UPS and was told that the package won’t be delivered until Wednesday, July 18. I slumped down in the driver’s seat and tried to muster up the energy to drive off — Nexus 7less. Sigh! What’s another day? It’s just around the corner. At that point, I was deflated and simply resigned to waiting to see what happened the next day.
Here is a little something that struck me as bazaar about the handling of my package by UPS. Here is the tracking page updated as of 7 am, Wednesday, July 18.
First of all, that “Out for Delivery” at 7:47 am on Tuesday, July 17, was not listed all day. That must have been added overnight Tuesday. Interestingly, if the package was, in fact, out for delivery on Tuesday, July 17, why didn’t it reach Rockville? Why is there a departure scan from the same location, Landover, at 7:59 pm? Did the package ride around in the truck all day and then come back? Why was it sent to Laurel, and the returned to Landover? In fairness, UPS would tell you that my shipment was 2nd Day Air, and Wednesday is still within the promised second-day delivery. I don’t dispute this timeline, but if the package was out for delivery on Tuesday, why wasn’t it delivered? What Brown Can Do For Me is answer some questions.
If you’re not familiar with the Washington, DC metropolitan area, Landover (A on the map) and Laurel (B on the map) are not that far from each other — about 15 miles. The UPS Store in Rockville, MD, where my packaged is to be shipped, is about the same distance from Landover than is Laurel. If nothing else, I will have a well-traveled Nexus 7.
Wednesday, June 18 was supposed to be “The Day.” I checked in around 11 am, and was told by the UPS website and by representatives on the phone that the package was, indeed, out for delivery. I checked with the UPS Store, and the person told me that they received their package drop off, and there was nothing for me. I called UPS to inquire, and somehow the story change. One person told me that the package was out for delivery. Another person said that it appears that the package is still sitting in Landover. Or was it. I spoke to someone at the UPS facility and Landover and she said, in no uncertain terms, that they didn’t know where the package is. WTF?!
Come again! UPS scans everything. How on the world could a package go missing??? Perhaps because I was still hopeful that I might receive my package on Wednesday, I was patient than I might normally be with conflicting answers and matter-of-fact customer service. Late Wednesday, I was transferred to someone in the “investigations unit” of UPS. A very pleasant woman walked through my dilemma, and she revealed that the package had, for the last two days, been riding around in a truck for delivery in DC. Because the package was supposed to be redirected, the driver — for two days — scanned the package and realized that it was not supposed to be delivered to my house. The driver would bring this package back to the Landover facility, which does not deliver to Rockville to be sent to the Laurel facility, which does deliver to Rockville. It appears the package was routed to Laurel for deliver to Rockville, but then the machines or a person scanned the original label or bar code and sent the package back to Landover. Argh! The UPS representative assured me that both the Landover and Laurel facilities were notified about my package. I was annoyed that another day was coming to a close with no delivery, but I felt (naively) hopeful about a Thursday delivery.
I was planning to go to New York on Thursday afternoon, and I really wanted to have the Nexus 7 with me for the trip. I must admit that I approached the day less hopeful, because the UPS tracking page showed the package was yet again in Landover. Honestly, I was starting to reach a point where I no longer cared. Nevertheless, I called UPS to see what story (read: excuse) they would yarn. What happened to “We Love Logistics®?” I was shuttled from person to person, demanding to speak to managers/supervisors. I became increasingly frustrated because I had to explain my situation to each person. I finally asked, rather angrily, “Don’t you all have/keep notes?” I never really got an answer. It sounds like a call log is kept, but possibly not much more. After finally blowing a gasket, I was connected to someone in UPS’s “tracer unit.” (Does that mean that the person in the “investigations unit” was not really investigating? I was told that there was no referral of my situation to a the investigations/tracer unit. Ugh!) I had to leave to get on a train to New York, but I was told that they would have the supervisor of the driver from the Landover facility call me. Before leaving for the train station, I submitted a second complaint, this time online, with Google. About 90 minutes later, while relaxing on the train to New York, someone called me, saying that she was from the UPS in DC. The young woman basically told me the same thing I’ve heard for the last three days. This young woman had no answers, but told me that they would call me back once they reached the driver. About 45 minutes later, I got another call saying that the package was, in fact, on the truck for delivery in DC. The driver will bring it back and it will be sent to Laurel for deliver to Rockville. I just about burst into flames in my seat.
What Happened to “We Love Logistics®?”
On Friday, July 20, I received several emails from UPS indicating that they initiated a delivery intercept on the package — meaning it should be routed to Laurel for deliver to Rockville. Isn’t that what I did with UPS’s own MyChoice service? (A service that costs $40 a year, by the way.) At 11:05 am, I received another email notification from UPS.
Just before noon that day, I received a call from a representative from UPS. She wanted to make sure that I knew that the package had been delivered. Nice touch, but a little too late. This tracking detail sheet almost serves as a storyboard for this story.
This week, I am going to demand that UPS refund the $40 I paid for the MyChoice service. I have also asked (read: demanded) that Google refund the amount that I paid for shipping! I have yet to receive any reply to the two complaints that I lodged with them.
This whole thing is the epitome of shitty customer service.
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.
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.