Having spent a few days with the Google’s entry into tablet land I find myself duly impressed. I wouldn’t trade my iPad but if I were buying a new tablet today (happily I’m not) a 16GB Nexus 7 at $250 would definitely give me pause.
The device works extremely well, fit and finish are very good and the overall experience is very iPad esc, something that couldn’t be said for any previous competitors. Google apps in particular work brilliantly. Maps, Calendar, Chrome and Gmail seem completely at home and Jellybean (Android 4.1) feels very polished compared to previous versions. The screen, while not quite ‘Retina’ per Apple’s definition, looks really good. To my eyes, better than an iPad 2 not quite as good as the “new” iPad. Also, the 7” screen feels much more natural for reading and certainly more convenient to grab on the go when compared to the iPad.
Despite all the positives there are some quirks, device rotation seems particularly flaky. I don’t know if this is app or OS related but some apps and interfaces seem to support rotation and some don’t and bouncing between is really jarring. The device ships with auto rotation off and I would leave that way, at least for now.
Second on my list of oddities, the Nexus 7 doesn’t ship with a camera app not a big deal unless your buying one for a non-techie friend or family member in which case it might create some headaches.
Lastly the Nexus 7 is Wi-Fi only paired with limited storage, 8/16 GB, this will be a deal breaker for some users. I’m currently loading up the iPad with movies and games for our summer vacation. While I may take the Nexus too there’s no way I’m leaving without the iPad.
Quirks aside the Nexus really is a great device. And Google has delivered what Amazon promised and Apple swore no one would want, a compelling 7” tablet. It’s not quite an iPad, nor is it priced like one. From a competitive standpoint the Fire could be ignored, not so for Nexus 7. No doubt Apple is paying close attention and hopefully an ~7” iPad with a little more refinement and features will appear soon. Competition is good.