Monday, April 22, 2013

Thoughts on my Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 marks a firsts moment for me as it is the first tablet I've ever owned. I previously ranted against tablets as overpriced media consumption devices. I chose the Nexus 7 not just because I had money to blow, but because of its price, capabilities, and the fact that it wears the Nexus moniker. At $250, is it worth it? Well let's see.

First off, the hardware itself. At $250, you'd expect something cheap, but ASUS has really came through on this tablet. It feels sturdy in the hand and solidly constructed. On the right side you have both the power button and volume rocker. The left side has a set of POGO pins and fairly hidden microphone. The bottom contains your standard micro USB and headphone jack. The front is an all black faceless slate with a 1.2 MP camera in the center near the top. On the rear you have the speaker with a rubbery, dimpled material and the Nexus on the back. The material on the back takes special note as it makes holding the tablet a much less slippery affair. That's it for the hardware. Simple and to the point.

Overall, I like the appearance and feel of the tablet. I feel like I'm getting more than my money's worth. The power button and volume rocker have good feedback, but are a bit difficult to push when in my leather case. However, the tablet has a smart cover function so my case turns the screen on and off depending on whether it's open.

The internals of the tablet are very impressive for its price. It comes with a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core processor running at 1.3 GHz with a 12 core GPU running at 416 MHz (mine is overclocked to 512 MHz and can go as high as 766 MHz). It has 1 GB of RAM with NFC, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, and all the variants of Wifi. The usual suspects are here like an accelerometer, gyroscope, microphone, etc. The one thing that is missing that I find odd is haptic feedback or vibration as its commonly known. You don't realize how much this is useful in smartphones until you don't have it in your tablet. The tablet has 32 GB of storage (28 GB after formatting and space for the OS itself) with no expansion slot. It's powered by a 4,325 mAh Li-Ion polymer non-removable battery.

The screen is a 7 inch 1280 x 800 resolution IPS screen with Gorilla glass coating to prevent scratches. It comes in at 216 ppi which is very good for its price. You're still going to see some jagged edges here and there, mostly around text, but overall the screen is sharp. Color production is fairly neutral and touch screen sensitivity is good. Overall it's a very good screen, but its not groundbreaking by any means.

Running 4.2.1 (started with 4.1) with a custom ROM, I found navigating around a tablet to take a little more acclimation than I did with a phone. The "fragments" effect takes place here since starting with Ice Cream Sandwich apps can run both on a phone and tablet, but appear differently on each. Unfortunately, there are a couple negative things about the tablet.

First things first, there are some issues I have with the tablet. RAM is a big one. I've said before that 2 GB needs to be the minimum for Android and it shows here. After allocating some to the GPU and running several programs, I found myself running out of RAM and suffering stutters as the system had clear it out continuously. Because of this, I had to implement a minfree program to keep the minimum free RAM at 150 MB. This mitigated the issue, but it still stands that the tablet needs more RAM to be continuously fluid.

Secondly, there's no expandable storage or video out. The storage I can live without. I put my entire digital music collection on the tablet and it only took 14 GB. Obviously, my collection will grow, but for now, I think 32 GB is sufficient. However, anyone with larger collections is going to have to rely on cloud storage or USB-on-the-go which allows you to connect a flash drive or SD card to the USB port. While you can connect additional storage space, there is no video out or miracast to send to a external monitor. Obviously this is a cost cutting measure, but I would have enjoyed the option to project games and the like to my 43" TV.

However, this shouldn't be misconstrued as a negative review, far from it. The Nexus 7 is hands down the most cost efficient tablet on the market for its specs. The fact that it's easy to root and gets updates first is also a huge boon. I've found I actually like using it and taking it along with me in my sling bag due to its small size. I keep a Bluetooth keyboard dock and game controller with me that allows me to be productive or game whenever I want with my SNES emulator. I also have a D & D 4th edition program that keeps my character available with built in dice rollers. I even browse the news with Flipboard or watch movies with Netflix. All in all, I'm actually getting much more use out of it than I initially expected.

I will fully admit I was wrong about tablets, partially. There are still some massively overpriced tablets like the iPad and the Surface. However, the cheaper tablets like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire are great devices for their cost and I certainly would recommend anyone buying one for their media and gaming needs. There's a rumored new version of the Nexus 7 coming with better specs like a much higher resolution screen that I'll probably pick up which means this current one will become a gift for some lucky person I suppose.

No comments:

Post a Comment