Senin, 11 Maret 2013

#7: Google Nexus 7 Tablet (16 GB)

Full Disclosure:

I own an iPad 3 and an iTouch and a four, going on five year old Motorola dumb phone.

I'm not going deep into hardware specs, you can read other reviews for that.

[EDIT FOR NEWEST GOOGLE PRESS RELEASE]

On October 29th, Google released the updated Nexus 7. The ONLY things that changed was that the 8gb version was discontinued, the 16gb version dropped to $199 and the 32gb version was released for $249 (both available for purchase NOW). The 3G cellular version is on sale starting November 13, 2012. Do not buy the existing Nexus 7 versions at current prices posted on Amazon! You're paying way too much.

[/END EDIT]

Let's address some of the perceived flaws and some of the real flaws of the Nexus 7.

1) Storage. 8gb and 16gb (the two flavors the Nexus 7 comes in) can go real fast real quick in today's age of HD movies. I took my 16gb iPad on a trip and I maxed out with movies incredibly fast, even after I shrunk them down to least tolerable quality. The Nexus 7 does deserve some criticism for no Micro-SD slot and I was not going to buy it for that sole reason. However, like all good Android Tablets, there's a solution.

[SUPER BIG EDIT FOR HIGHLY IMPORTANT INFORMATION]:

It's called USB On The Go. Essentially you take a USB OTG cable (like $1 on Ebay), plug it into your Nexus 7, download the Nexus Media Importer app (Currently $3 on Google Play) and then connect whatever side hard drive or flash drive you want. The largest size external media I could connect to (and have access too) is a 3TB Western Digital. So much for 8/16 gig limits! The only problem I encountered with large drives is that the Media Importer app (which streams media as well as allowing one way coping to the Nexus 7) is that it crashes when you try to stream media out of folders that contain huge amounts of files, like 3,000 mp3s. If you're cheap, you can do much of the same via Stickmount and a file manager (Stickmount requires rooting). But the Nexus Media Importer just makes it ridiculously easy. Best $3 in credit I spent.

With OTG and flash drives you don't need the cloud. Ever. Seriously, whoever decided to not put in the MicroSD to force cloud should be fired at Google.

Oh yeah. And this requires absolutely ZERO rooting. Take your Nexus out of the box. Download the Nexus Media Importer App. Buy the cable. Plug in your thumb drive. You're good to go.

As of today (10/5/12), I was able to connect a canon point and shoot, iPad 3, iTouch, 4 small flash drives (less than 2 GB), a 1 TB and 3 TB external hard drives (Western Digital), a SD card reader (with regular and microSD via adapter) and was able to pull/stream files off all of them (FAT and NFTS formatting, no EXFAT at the moment sorry!). For some reason my old Motorola ZN5 (ancient eh?) no longer registers anymore, but as long as you plug in relatively new devices you'll be okay. An exception is I plugged in my 9 year old iRiver player and it streamed music perfectly.

Don't forget that OTG also lets you plug in and use keyboards (wired and wireless via dongle) and mice without rooting. Mice generate a cursor when plugged in. Also be aware that OTG may charge devices from your Nexus 7. For you true gamers, PS/3 controllers work as well. Not on all games, but games like Dead Trigger they'll work just like they do on a PS/3. Like to see that on a Kindle Fire or an iPad!

2) Display. Yes, it's not an iPad. It's also less than half the price of the new iPad. Text is still crisp and clean and colors are largely well done. Not iPad well done, but save yourself $300 well done. It's fairly responsive, not iPad response, but better than many other tablets out there. I have no complaints about it. As for the screen separation, that seems to be more of an issue with the 16gb version than the 8gb. I haven't had any ghosting issues either.

3) Camera is pretty terrible. The front facing 1.2 megapixel is nothing to get excited about. And there is no back camera. I honestly don't get why that's just a big deal. You look like a tool using the back camera. Anyone does. Even Olivia Wilde (13 on a total possible score of 10 house fans!) would look like a douche using a tablet's back camera to take video/pictures. Odds are you have your smartphone with a decent camera. Use that. There oddly though, is no app for the camera that ships with the Nexus 7. But there is a free Nexus 7 camera launcher app.

4) Apps. True, the Apple ecosystems has far more apps designed for tablets than Android does. But most of your apps, like skype, facebook, office utilities are all there. Furthermore, rather than being stuck on iTunes you can install Amazon's app store in addition to the preloaded Google Play store.

5) No cellular connection. Fair enough, but it does have the capacity to get on to a hotspot. Meaning, just tether your smart phone. Granted, that costs money, but the fact that something like 80% of all tablets sold, Android and Apple are wifi only suggests that cellular connections on tablets is highly overrated. If you're one of those 8 out of 10 people who don't care about cell connections on your tablet, this shouldn't obviously matter.

[EDIT]: The 3G cellular model available now on Google Play sells for $300. Also, does not support CDMA networks so no Verizon or Sprint. Ships with an AT&T sim card.[/Edit]

6) No Flash - This is technically half wrong. While Jelly Bean does not support Flash off the bat, there are FREE fixes to get flash on to your Nexus.

Google "Install Flash On Nexus 7"

The downside is you need a browser that is flash coded which includes Firefox Beta (free on Google play). It's a bit convoluted but follow the instructions and you'll have your flash games. I've posted pictures on the Nexus 7 8GB image gallery of both flash games AND streaming flash video off my Nexus 7.

If an iPad user like me can figure this out, you can too!

Now on to other things:

Little black rectangle is lightning fast. The five core processor (yes, there are five I'll get to that later) loads things speedy without crashes and without bugs. My iPad crashes apps pretty regularly. Only once has my settings crashed but that was largely due to me screwing up my setup of my Wi-Fi extender. I can't fault the Nexus 7 for that. Speaking of which, the Nexus was super useful walking all over my house and yard to diagnosis network deadzones and other problems. 3/4 of a pound and strong Wi-Fi pick up made that job real easy, especially with free Wi-Fi apps. I could have done that with my iPad, but that would have been far less fun. Also, the Nexus 7 picks up Wi-Fi networks my iPad doesn't.

Jelly Bean isn't as smooth as iOS 5/6 but it is better than every other Android device that my friends and family have used (and I played around with).

Oh yes, five cores. The process actually has a fifth core that keeps basic services running when the device is in sleep mode. That saves massive amounts of energy. The battery life on the Nexus is better than my iPad without comparison even when doing the same things. The fifth core doesn't operate during normal operations. Battery life on this device is phenomenal.

EDIT: On light usage, I am able to get ~195 hours before hitting 5% battery. On medium, movie watching no heavy gaming, I can regularly do ~110 hours before hitting 5%. GPS however, will eat power like nobody's business.

What I like about the Nexus 7 is that I can largely customize anything I want. The Nexus ships with a format that is more phone than tablet, but with a Root and a few apps, I was able to switch it to the Tablet UI that you see in 10" Android tablets. I personally prefer that format but it makes icons smaller to fit it all in. Not the best for older people. But that's the great thing about Android in general. Whatever you want to change, you probably can. And the Nexus 7 is no different.

Google Voice Search is pretty awesome. It's not as good as Siri in actually reading back answers to you, most of my searches lead to a web search with links. Weather does get repeated in a Siri like female voice. Speak slowly and clearly. Or you'll get weird results. Also, phrase questions more as searches than something you'd ask a real human. Google Voice does not do well with questions like "do I need an umbrella today?" Ask "Weather forecast (your location)."

Now, in my opinion, one of the coolest things about the Nexus 7 is in the built in GPS coupled with the free cached maps. Say you're going to visit your friend who's getting married in small town in Iowa. You can either buy a GPS or bring your Nexus 7 with the map of the small town saved to memory. Turn on the GPS and it will track where you on in the town on the map real time no wifi/cell connection required. I downloaded a map of my town and tracked myself going to work. Planning your route out can easily turn the Nexus 7 into a GPS system without any additional costs.

EDIT: Note, this doesn't give you turn by turn directions by itself. To get turn by turn directions you need the "NAvFree USA" (there is a Navfree for other countries) app off the Google Play store. It's free. Download your state and set your destination. It gives out voice commands on when to turn similar to a dedicated GPS device. It doesn't name street names which is expected considering it's free, but it is largely accurate saying "in 100 meters, turn right." My recent test of the app did ask me to drive over a divided highway though. As long as you pay attention though, this app coupled with the Nexus 7 will function as decent GPS offline, no wifi, no cell connection. And it even recalculates the route if you miss a turn. Read more ›



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