First Impressions of Google’s Nexus 7

After being away for a few weeks in Asia, it was nice to come back to a brand new toy in Canada. I was really excited to receive an email indicating that the device had shipped especially after all the hoopla that Google had screwed up the launch of the Nexus 7 devices. It didn’t help that Howard got his Nexus 7 before I did even though he initially wasn’t that enthusiastic about the Nexus 7. For me though, the timing worked out perfectly.

To give some context about what I’m about to write, this isn’t my first 7 inch device. In fact, it’ll be my third after the HTC Flyer and the Blackberry Playbook. I also have previously written some of my thoughts about device form factors. It’s also not my first exposure to Jelly Bean as I’d been playing with Jelly Bean on my Galaxy Nexus for a few weeks already. So because of my experience, I have a lot of expectations of the device especially with all of the enthusiastic reviews of the Nexus 7 device.
Specs
Dimensions: 7.82″ x 4.72″ x 0.41″
Weight: 0.75 lbs
Resolution: 1280 px x 800 px
Processor: Nvidia Tegra 3 Quad Core 1.3 GHz
RAM: 1 GB
Storage: 16 GB
Connectivity: WiFi (b,g,n), GPS, Bluetooth, NFC
Front Camera: 1.2 megapixels
Battery Capacity: 4326 mAh
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Packaging
The one thing that Apple does a great job on is packaging regardless of what the device is. I have never bought an Apple product and once not thought – “oooh… pretty…” Unboxing the Google Nexus 7 was shockingly blend. I remember opening the Nexus One, Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus and I had the “oooh… pretty…” feel. In all honesty, the packaging for the Nexus 7 felt a bit cheap which is a bit surprising for me because of my previous Nexus experience and that in general Asus packages their products well.
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Physical look and feel
The first thing that I noticed about the Nexus 7 is that it feels significantly lighter than the HTC Flyer although the reality is that it’s only 2 oz lighter than the Flyer. It also feel thinner than the Flyer but it’s only marginally so. The back has a bit of a rubbery feel to it making it easier to grip and hold on to. Like the HTC Flyer, the device is built for it to be mostly in portrait mode. So the buttons are on the longer side of the device. It’s slightly recessed making it hard to press which has it’s pros and cons. From my use, it feels as though it’s been designed so that it’d be slightly more difficult to accidentally press the button which is a good thing. The thing with a 7″ device is that I tend to hold it with one hand more often. There is a standard 3.5 mm jack at the bottom of the device along with a standard micro usb port for charging it. It is quite nice to be able to charge the tablet via a standard micro usb port because it is one less thing to carry around.
Jelly Bean
As this is a Nexus device, it’s one of the few devices that comes with stock Android. In this case, Google was trying to show off Jelly Bean, their latest version of the OS. One of the main focus for Jelly Bean was to ensure that the OS got a lot more polish. One thing that people often complained was when swiping screens, it wasn’t nearly as smooth as it was in iOS. Frankly, since I never noticed it, it’s really hard to comment that it’s better now. Most of the people who have complained about it in the past, however, have been fairly impressed by the change. The things that I have really enjoyed about Jelly Bean have been the Google Now, the ability to swipe from camera to gallery and the ability to do offline voice commands (albeit limited).
Usage
Over the past few days, I found myself depending more on my Nexus 7 instead of the Asus Transformer. In comparison, the Asus Transformer feels unwieldy and cumbersome to carry around. Although it sticks out a bit, I can easily slip the Nexus 7 in my back pocket and walk around comfortably around the house. In general, I tend to use the Nexus 7 to read my news, quickly manage my many tasks, read my emails and IM people and I can do this pretty effectively. I haven’t yet written any blogs on my device yet so that will be interesting to see if I do write more because of an accessible 7″ device. One thing to note is that after extended amount of typing, I find that the corners dig into my palms a little bit even though they are rounded.
A neat but scary thing is that when I started to set up the accounts on the device, it automatically pre-filled the account with the email address which I bought the phone with on the Play Store. It’s a nice touch but quite a bit creepy at the same time. After a few hours, I found that it was better for me to use the Swift keyboard instead of Swype.
While it does take a standard micro usb cable, the charger is actually a 2A charger which is interesting. I had problems charging the tablet when it was hooked up to the built-in usb charger on my power bar and it only charged about 30% of my complete battery after about 4 hours. I have to admit that it did take forever to charge the phone the first time I started to charge the phone. On my usage, the Nexus 7 lasts me for a good 16 hours before it started to show that it was at 50% capacity. One thing to note is that at that point, the battery does drain awfully quickly.
The Nexus 7 is positioned as a cloud dependent device and hence claiming that having 16 GB of memory is plenty. I’m not so sure about that personally but I’m willing to give it a go. I’ve primarily loaded only cloud based services for most things so I have Grooveshark and Slacker set up for music, feedly for news and Netflix for movies. I’m curious to see if not having much offline data stored on the data will become a nuisance if I can’t get Internet access.
My current overall impressions of the Nexus 7 is that it’s not an overwhelmingly good device; it’s a solid device at $250 and definitely good bang for buck.
My Nexus 7 photos can be found here