Sunday, October 14, 2012

Google Nexus my house [and gone, twice]

A few things changed and I drove to Sam's Club and picked up a Google Nexus 7 tablet.  Unfortunately, they didn't have a case or sleeve for them, but they're still relatively new and they also didn't have cases or sleeves for the Samsung Galaxy tablets.

I sat down with a slice of pizza, a drink, and proceeded to start the tablet.  It was easy to set up, and I was in business quickly.  It remembered part of what was me, from the Android-based phone, but because they don't store apps information for deleted but still wanted apps, it couldn't tell me which apps to download or otherwise, help me decide.  (Surprise! They saved my history in the web/desktop version of Google Play and I was able to initiate downloads to the Nexus 7 from there! Well done!)

I went over to Target, thinking that they try to cover all bases (what an idiom!) but they had nothing relevant, either.

The tablet was charging on the way home.  My microUSB-based charger from my Android-based phone (and the previous phone) worked just fine, although it heated up more than usual.  I noticed that the battery has a similar mAh rating as the battery in my MacBook.  That's a lot for such a small device.

After I arrived home, I started downloading some apps, including Galaxy on Fire 2 THD (Total Harmonic Distortion came to mind immediately), which is apparently the nVidia Tegra version.  It must be just me, but it seems strange that you download a tiny (4 MB?) app, and after you start it, it wants to download another 507 MB, I believe.  This was priced as "Free" in the Google Play store but once you get to a certain point in the story, they want payment.

I thought back for a minute to the point where I added my card to Google Checkout about the time I got the Android-based phone.  A week or so later, I received charges on my Visa Check Card, directly affecting my checking account.  I really didn't want to repeat that with Google Wallet or whatever mechanism they're now using.  I'm not sure whether it's safe or not.  I'll likely succumb to the demand, but I won't be comfortable for a while.

The tablet performs admirably and the display is wonderful.  Japanese and Chinese are clearly rendered, which is generally difficult.  The Tegra 3 4+1 core CPU seems to keep things flowing smoothly and I'm sure that Jelly Bean (4.1.2) adds to the favourable experience.  However, I find that Android still seems put together by a committee.  It looks as though they've massaged it here and there and refined it otherwise, but it still seems such a beta test release of software.

Apps work smoothly and are launched quickly, which is a huge difference from my previous Android experience.  As I've thought in the past, version 4 is a good starting point for Android--what should have been the 1.0 release.  Where is the !@#$ screenshot combination?  I use the Power button and the Home button on iOS and I have a screenshot, but nothing on Android but getting a separate app.  Another thing that's bugging me: if they want to get rid of the menu button, why is the menu button still used so frequently, though it's just hidden to the side?

I'm sure it will be interesting in the future, but it's still going to take time to learn to work it correctly and well.  Google and ASUS, you did a good job.

Update: Wouldn't you know it, there are rumors that Google and ASUS will release a 32 GB model for a similar price in the next few days.  That kind of thing has happened more than once.  When I bought a Nintendo Wii, for instance, it was reduced in price 8 days from then.  I returned the Nexus 7 to Sam's Club and the associate asked me if there was something wrong with all of them because they were getting a lot of returns.  I doubt it would be because of the price/new configurations since they have a time window for returns.  They have great hardware but they're just not great with Jelly Bean (Android 4.1.x) so far.  Let's see what happens on the 29th.

Update 2: I returned the 16 GB version, with much trouble, to Sam's Club and they had it a few days later (around the 29th) for $199.99. I later bought the 32 GB version at Staples with their accidental protection plan.  Given that cases are almost non-existent at the moment, anything could happen.  Staples had both the 16 GB and 32 GB versions at $249.99, and the protection plan was not yet priced, so it had a placeholder of $9999.99, a bit much.  The second tablet is a bit creaky, as if it was put together more hastily than the previous tablet I had.  Still, it seems to fit my hand better than the new iPad mini.  I'm sure the iPad mini is a better experience overall, but I'm not expecting revelations with any tablet.  For most of what I'm expecting, the Nexus 7 tablet fits me.

The sad thing is that I returned the second tablet.  It thought I was in Cisco, Texas for some reason, several hundred miles from my actual location.  There were other minor issues with it, but it never worked all that well.  For what it's worth, I still believe it showed a lot of promise and I still have $9.99 in it for a game that was tied to the nVidia Tegra architecture, but oh well.

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