Google Nexus7: First Impressions

I only got my Nexus 7 yesterday so this is not meant to be an in-depth review driven based on days of experience. Take what I say with a grain of salt, but like they say, first impressions are last impressions! So read on…

Nexus 7
Nexus 7

The Good Great

  • Google integration: this is a no brainer. If you spend a lot of time on Google properties (like I do), the integration is superb! Nexus 7 is meant to be a device for content consumption so it’s no surprise that Google Play is almost “pushed” in front of the user. It even synced the known wifi networks (and passwords) from my Galaxy Nexus!
  • Form factor: I’ve only used the iPad 2 and the new iPad briefly. Though the Nexus 7 is visibly smaller, it’s a lot more comfortable to hold with one hand without building muscle. (On the other hand, one could argue that it’s only slightly larger than Galaxy Nexus…)
  • Performance: this baby is fast! Those quad-core Tegra processors sure do their job — I haven’t played any intense games yet, but everything else (switching between apps, Angry Birds, Google Earth, browsing through music and photos, playing videos etc etc) is super snappy.
  • Bang for buck: at $200, the price point couldn’t get better. This price advantage alone will put the Nexus 7 within reach of many could-have-been iPad owners.

The Bad Good

  • Build quality: this is no iPad, but the tablet feels solid. I like the textured back panel. But the screen gets smudged quite easily (similar to the iPad) and is a tad too glossy for me. I miss the smart cover!
  • PDF reader: the built-in default PDF reader sucks. I can’t swipe to go to next page, for instance. The Kindle PDF reader is much better in comparison.
  • Book reader: Again, this is no Kindle (but the Kindle Fire is toast) but the Play book reader is pretty good. All caveats w.r.t e-ink vs. back-lit screens apply. There is one problem though: if while reading you accidentally end up touching anywhere near the bottom of the screen (which is fairly easy to do, if you consider how you normally hold a book or an e-reader), you’ll end up either going to the home screen or opening up the task switcher. Either way, itsĀ extremely distracting. I wish they added a “locked” mode while reading books that can only be changed by using the physical power button.

The Ugly Bad

  • Camera: there’s no (easy) way to take pictures on this device. Yes, there is a (crappy) front-facing camera but it is only meant for hangouts. I seriously don’t understand why Google doesn’t want to put a good camera on their devices. I’ve previously complained about how crappy the Galaxy Nexus camer is compared to the iPhone 4S‘s, and the Nexus 7 doesn’t change anything.
  • Packaging: given that unboxing is the first experience with the device users have, I’m bitterly disappointed by the Nexus 7 packaging. The sleeve is too snug; the black packaging just too cardboardy; and there should be an award for opening the inner box without struggling. Overall, it was just plain frustrating getting the device out of the box (and I’m not alone in this). Yes, first world problems but whatever.

More later.

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