I once vowed that the original iPad I purchased in the spring of 2009 would be my last Apple tablet, and a couple weeks ago that indeed was proven true when I bought Google’s 7″ tablet, the Nexus 7, running Android’s Jellybean operating system. Sure I was tempted by the subsequent releases of Apple’s groundbreaking tablet, but … in the end, I object to it on the basis of cost, and most importantly, the “velvet cage” feeling I have whenever I try to live in the Apple world of iTunes, iCloud, and disabled commerce functions by any app that dares to circumvent Apple’s deathgrip (Kindle, Amazon music, etc.)
I went with the 16 GB version for $250 and in the week I’ve been using it I can declare it to be the most ergonomically lovable device I’ve ever owned. The difference between a seven-inch device and a ten-inch one is significant given that the former can be clamped in one hand and the other is a constant juggling act. There’s a reason Amazon stuck to the dimensions of trade-paperback with the Kindle, and the Nexus followed, avoiding the big pane of glass that Apple and the early Android tablet makers favored. Yes, Apple is likely to introduce a smaller tablet soon — probably a bit over 7 inches, and it remains to be seen if such a pocket-sized tablet will be priced anywhere down below $300, where Amazon is obviously subsidizing the cost of its Fire, and Google with the Nexus.
Jobs apparently “detested” the smaller form factor, but I have to disagree with the maestro on this one. As a “tweener” device between a smart phone and full screen tablet or laptop, the Nexus 7 is definitely a “Goldilocks device” that feels just right.
Asus manufactures the device and does a surprisingly good job for a Taiwanese brand I used to associate with cheap products with poor fit and finish. What advantage Asus has in being Google’s manufacturer of choice remains to be see. It certainly helped HTC when the first Google phone was released, but hasn’t done much for the Chromebook manufacturers.
The Jellybean experience is far and away smoother and more functional than any preceding Android build. The user interface is optimized for the larger screen and indeed, as I installed my preferred apps, I saw most have been updated to take advantage of Jellybean’s look and feel.
This thing goes with me everywhere. Literally in the side pocket of my suit coat. I tether it to my Galaxy S III’s hotspot when I need a data connection, use it as a bluetooth music remote driving a set of Jawbone speakers, and am tempted to dash mount it in the car.