My brief Nexus 7 review

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by brig2221, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. brig2221, Aug 2, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012

    brig2221 macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2010
    I'm not an "old" Apple user in the sense that my first Apple device was the first iPhone. I've been pretty much hooked ever since then, upgrading iPhone's when eligible, and purchasing an iPad 2 when it came out. I recently rounded out the lineup by purchasing my first ever MacBook Pro. Just thought I would give a little history of my Apple user experience up to this point.

    Like many of you, I follow the tech community fairly closely as it's a hobby of mine being a gadget enthusiast. I read positive review and positive review about the recently released Google Nexus 7. I also really like the idea of the smaller form factor of a 7" tablet device, so I took the plunge last night and picked one up. Suprisingly enough, I had to make several phone calls before I could find a retail store that had one in stock, thank you Staples!

    My very first impression of the device was how nice the build qualify was. The outside rim of the device looks to be aluminum, looking very similar to the iPad casing. However, that is where the similarity ends. The entire bottom portion of the backplate is some type of rubbery leather with small stippling. It makes the device a pleasure to hold in the hand, isn't slippery at all, and you don't feel the need to baby it when setting it down (for fear of scratches).

    If you have watched any reviews on the device, the one thing that just about every reviewer keyed in on was the fluidity of the updated Jelly Bean OS, or smoothness if you will. I had to agree, as I did not run into any stuttering or screen lag at all. The screen was also very much a pleasure to look at. It was bright enough, had good contrast, and offers a PPI over 200, so text was very clear and crisp. This is where I run out of positive things to say about the device. Now on to what I believe are it's shortcomings coming from an iPad and what I expect out of a tablet device....

    I did not like the 16:9 (guessing here) aspect ratio. Sounds great on paper, but in real world use, I much prefer the iPad 4:3 aspect ratio. I just couldn't use the Nexus comfortably when in landscape mode, not nearly enough vertical real estate to be comfortably used IMHO.

    I did not like the Google Play store. I'm sorry, but it is a freaking mess compared to Apple's App Store IMHO. When I would try to search for something, I would get multiple iterative versions, having no idea what was what and which (if any) were optimized for tablets. I'm sure I would get more used to this after time. However, after having used Apples App Store for some time, that is where my bar was set, and the Google Play store did not come close to reaching it in my opinion.

    The wifi signal sucked on the device. I was only getting about half reception on the Nexus, while my iPad and iPhone sitting next to me were getting full bar reception. The Nexus was all over the place. Speedtests run on my Apple devices were getting about 19 Mbps download (against my 20 Mbps connection), while my Nexus was getting 6-8 Mbps due to the reception issues I was experiencing. Being a device that only offers Wi-fi as a connection, it better be pretty darn good IMHO, and mine was not.

    I did not like the OS that much. Yeah, I can tell it offers more customization than iOS, but that doesn't matter much when it isn't intuitive. Again, I'm sure I am biased here after having been in the iOS ecosystem since the beginning, but I was not really impressed with how everything was laid out from getting to and changing settings, etc. I think a lot of this would most likely be overcome with time using the device though.

    In the end, I really do think it's a great device for the money ($200), and being a Nexus device, the end user will have access to all future Android upgrades, which is good. All that said, with the rampant speculation that is out there today about an upcoming iPad mini, I just could not justify keeping the Nexus, so it is going back to Staples later on this evening.

    After having used the Nexus, I'm even more confident than ever that a 7" tablet is workable, and that a 7" (7.85" I hear) iPad would be killer, which is what I will now be patiently waiting for.
  2. taipan61 macrumors 6502

    May 18, 2011
    corner starbucks
    very nice write up :D

    i jumped into the android market with a transformer 101 and just got the nexus 7 after being in the appleverse for many many moons...
    off the bat neither compare to the build of the ipads (i have had all 3 gens from launch day) and i do concur with about 98% of your review; the only difference is that i'm keeping mine to replace a kindle fire that's going to the youngest to play with.
    coming from gingerbread/ics to jellybean isn't that big a leap in my opinion and it doesn't offer the fluidity of iOS (again my opinion)
    the playstore sucks compared to amazon and apple (especially now that the amazon app is out!...booyah!)
    so while it's a nice piece of tech and in my house it'll be used for light usage i still prefer my ipad

    last thought, the wifi is weak compared to other devices including the fire...maybe google will come out and say we're holding it
  3. brig2221 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2010
    Yes, they just might channel their inner Steve Jobs :D

    It's weird though that a wi-fi only device wouldn't have very good wi-fi. I've played around a lot (although I never owned one) with a Kindle Fire, and I would definitely say the Nexus 7 is leaps and bounds better than the Kindle Fire, so anyone coming solely from that perspective will be in for a pleasant surprise.

    I was one of those that wasn't happy with the 4:3 ratio when the iPad was first announced. I, like many others, thought a widescreen ratio would be better. Boy was I wrong on that. To me, the real estate is much more usable on the iPad aspect ratio than the Nexus 7, which is very much in play when used in landscape mode as previously noted.

    Lucky kiddo by the way getting a Kindle Fire hand me down. The joys of having gadget junkies for parents :D
  4. wolfpackfan macrumors 68000

    Jun 10, 2007
    Cary, NC
    Thanks for your post. I have been thinking about the Nexus 7 myself, but after reading your post I think I'll wait and see if Apple comes out with a smaller iPad.
  5. TB07-NJ macrumors 68020

    Jul 7, 2008
    I can't imagine your LONG review if this was your "brief" review! :D;)

    In before the move to the "Alternatives to iOS Devices" forum.
  6. Rodster macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2007
    I own several Android tablets and 2 iPads and without question the iPad offers the best all around experience. Some flog Safari as an average browser but I feel to the contrary. I prefer the browser experience as well as the simplicity of the UI.

    With that said I do like some of the things Android brings to the table but the iPad at this point has no equal to it's tablets. I'm all for competition and i'm looking forward to the Microsoft Surface Pro later this year.

    As for the Nexus 7, I was disappointed with the overall build quality. I purchased 2 tablets and both suffered from glass separation and returned both of them for a refund.
  7. Bethany Smith macrumors member

    Bethany Smith

    Oct 11, 2011
    I purchased a Nexus 7 at launch. I'm overall not very pleased with it. I always seem to get let down nearly at every turn. By the way, the trim around the edge of the bevel is not aluminum, it's cheap plastic.

    I wrote a post over on Android central after my first weekend with the device. I'll repost it here in case anyone wants to check it out...



    I'll preface this by saying please forgive me for the rambling that you are about to read. It's after 6:00 AM on Monday morning where I live and I've been up all night reading how to guides on everything Android. I stumbled across this forum last week, but after my long weekend with my Nexus 7 I felt the need to give my thoughts and ask for some in return.

    Being a long time Apple user, I recently found myself needing to test out the Android versions of the apps the company I contract with puts out. After doing some research I thought the Nexus 7 seemed like it would be a great choice. I liked the price, the form factor, the build quality from the reviews, and most of all that it was stock plain Android with nothing on top to muck it up. The pure experience if you will.

    I guess I'll start with the whole pre-order debacle. It's been beaten to death in other topics but I've just got to say that in the future, I hope Google rethinks their current strategy. Pick a release date and make it publicly known. Hold your distribution partners to this date & make sure those who've pre-ordered have it on that street date. It's really quite simple and a company as powerful & successful as Google should by now know how to facilitate this.

    After finding out that Game Stop would be carrying the Nexus 7, I immediately canceled my pre-order and placed it with Game Stop instead to avoid the unnecessary shipping. Thankfully, I did this after the Game Stop announcement. I can completely sympathize with those who waited too long and are now stuck having to wait it out.

    I got the call that my pre-order was in stock this past Friday. Sadly, I've already had to replace it twice now at my local Game Stop over the weekend. The First time was for a long row of dead pixels down the left side of the screen. The second time was because it was Bricked/DOA and would not boot at all or show a charging indicator. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough that they had ample extras at the time.

    I will concede that every hardware launch has a few hiccups along the way. While going back and forth to Game Stop was annoying, I'm able to accept that I just had more than my fair share of bad luck. Thankfully, unit three appears to be in fairly good hardware shape. The only obvious flaw is that It does have a very minor case of the left hand side screen adhesive not being fully secure. It's something I am willing to overlook for the time being and will keep an eye on over time.

    Now on to the real reason I'm taking the time to write all of this in the first place, the Android software. My first impressions of a Goggle Android device after being in the Apple iOS ecosystem since 2007 were very optimistic. Having only really ever handled one other device back several years ago, the OS seems to have improved a great deal since then. It seems pretty fluid and overall really responsive. The settings and user interface took a tiny bit of adjusting, but for the most part I found it wasn't too hard to grasp the overall way to do things. All was looking like I was going to finally be enjoying my time spent with Jelly Bean. I made some icon groupings, changed my wallpaper. I was just starting to settle in and tweak the settings to my liking and then little things started detracting from the overall experience.

    I guess I want to say right off the bat that Apple iOS devices rotate from portrait to landscape straight out of the box. That's the kind of simplicity that matters to the "iStuff" crowd. As someone who prefers the option to have my home screen in landscape the majority of the time, it was incredibly frustrating to find out that that the home screen rotation was only possible through modifications to the stock Jelly Bean OS. I'm no novice & can make it happen from what I've found if I were so inclined, but it's the principle of the matter. I shouldn't have to go mucking around with rooting and what not to enable something that I feel should have been available from the start. After venting this frustration with a friend, I was told "But... that's the whole point of Android you tardo! It's built to be messed with and geeked out! You are supposed to mold it to however you want it and not how others tell you it should be!"

    Could it be that he was right? Maybe I have just been too closed minded to see that what I find as annoying, others see as a challenge with endless possibilities. Maybe, or maybe not. I guess I'll have to keep using it and try and find out if that's an area that I want to explore. As it stands now though, I just feel extremely annoyed & have no desire to do so yet.

    What it all boils down to for me I think is that If hardware production defects, shipping fiasco's, and poor customer support aren't enough reason to dissuade someone, It's the minor annoyances like the home screen rotation and the lack of battery percentage next to the battery icon that will turn people like myself off. I mean seriously there is no setting that you can enable to show battery percentage right there on the home screen without once again, doing changes to the system or downloading a widget that may or may not work properly?

    I want to like it, I really do. I know that I need more time with it and that I shouldn't have to try and force myself to stop reaching for my iPad just to do simple things like check the web. It's really a shame that the one area where I feel Google has tremendously let me down is the software. (Especially after years of hearing the virtues and praise from the several friends who are devout Android users.)

    I guess that's all I really wanted to say. I'm not giving up on my Nexus. Like it or not, I'm stuck having to use it for work regardless. Can anyone out there recommend some things that will help me to enjoy my new Nexus 7? Any tips or suggestions will be more than welcome. I really do want to get the most out of my investment, but maybe after being in the Apple world for so long I was just expecting more than Google could deliver?
  8. brig2221 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2010
    You have no idea how long winded I am normally. For me, that really was a brief review :D
  9. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    You focused too much on what the N7 cannot do that the iPad can (rotating home screen, battery meter next to icon). Now try to see things that the N7 can do, but not the iPad:

    - fill your home screens with widgets that give you information with you even opening any apps (weather, calendar, email, facebook, evernotes ....)
    - download apps like Elixir 2 that lets you put an icon on the homescreen to turn on/off system settings (wifi, bluetooth, etc) with just one tap
    - take the N7 with you on the go, and slip it in your back pocket of your shorts
    - set up the NFC to try out Google Wallet (if you are in the US)
    - load some HD mkv movies files, and use MX Player or BS Player to watch them (without conversion, and no need to go through iTunes)
    - better yet, put the files on the mac, share (smb) the folder. Use ES file explorer to access the files and stream the movies to your N7.
    - download Invisible Lock Screen Widget. This puts an invisible icon on home screen that allows you to sleep the N7 with one tap.
  10. Rodster macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2007
    First off I agree with pretty much you said. As i've said earlier the QA of the device was disappointing to me as well. The portrait-landscape issue on the HOME screen is annoying but something tells me that Google will do something about that. There is no excuse on their part to not have that enabled.

    You can also enable portrait-landscape mode while in apps in your settings. ;)

    As far as getting the most out of it? I'd say:

    1) Try Google Now aka Siri clone. It's actually pretty good. :)
    2) Try experimenting with the device.
    3) Google has included the ability to create folders in the task bar as well as your main pages since ice cream sandwich. You can group apps together similar to an iOS folder.
    4) To the right of the HOME icon on the task bar. If you touch that icon, it will display all your recent activity and will allow you to scroll up or down and allow you to hot link directly to that location or app on the Nexus 7.
    5) Download the Amazon free app of the day and start downloading free Kindle Fire apps.
    6) And don't forget to spend your $25 :)


    There's a built in widget on the N7 that does just that and is placed on the HOME screen. :)
  11. Greg. macrumors 6502


    Sep 12, 2010
    London, UK
    If your first Apple experience was an iPhone, you're probably just too used to the iOS environment for Android to suit you. I don't think you can beat iOS for simplicity and stability, and that's what a lot of people want from an OS. Android suits more power users, who want to have more control and flexibility over their device.
  12. azentropy macrumors 68020


    Jul 19, 2002
    Grab "Ultimate Rotation Control", that will allow you to rotate the home screen.

    I have bought every iPad so far, 6 of them total. I also own a HP Touchpad (dual boot WebOS and CM9) and a Kindle Fire. So far I am impressed by the N7, especially for the price. Not it isn't an iPad, but for $250 (16 gb) it is a nice device.

    Right now 4 things really bother me more about android than the N7 itself:

    1. No universal print. There are some apps out there that can be configured to support some apps, but come on!
    2. Really lacking email client. Email is pull only, can't set global settings like download all images automatically, no printing, etc.
    3. I really miss have a bookmarks bar for quick access. Don't care for at all how Chrome does it. Dolphin is better, but still doesn't handle levels of bookmarks as elegantly as Safari.
    4. Fragmentation and availability of apps. Already have ran into many apps I wanted to use and have been told "Your device isn't compatible with this version".
  13. Southernboyj macrumors 68000


    Mar 8, 2012
    Mobile, AL
    I recently also bought a Nexus 7, and as owned an iMac, Retina MacBook Pro, iPhone 4S, and I did have the new iPad.. I found it how to really justify owning a $500+ tablet to only use it sometimes, since I had all these other devices. The Nexus 7 was priced perfectly for how much I use it.

    Btw I got my Nexus 7 from someone off Craigslist.. Was basically brand new.. got the 16Gb version for $150. :D
  14. Bethany Smith macrumors member

    Bethany Smith

    Oct 11, 2011
    THANK YOU, a million times over thank you. The ultimate rotation control really works. I can't tell you how much this issue annoyed me until now. :p
  15. Fontane macrumors regular

    Feb 3, 2011
    I received a defective tablet from Google last night. The glass separates from the device. I want to return it for a refund - not an exchange. Has anyone received a refund from Google without having to pay the 15% restocking fee.

    PS I know this is the ipad forum but thought I'd ask since the discussion is the N7. I'll be buying the ipad 3 tonight.

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