Sunday, November 24, 2013

The 2013 Google Nexus 7 as the best tablet for the majority

(Yes, the title is stupid.  It's the second stupid title, and I can't think of anything that explains how I feel about my current Nexus 7.)

Would it be ridiculous to buy another Nexus 7 after having two of the 2012 versions and returning them?  I thought so.

Clearly, time has changed nearly everything.

Gone is the Tegra 3 with its multiple personality disorder, thankfully.  The surge, pause, surge, pause rhythm is a thing of the past, for me.

Can someone with a 32 GB iPhone 5c, packed to the gills, get along with only 16 GB in a tablet?  Yes, with Android it's definitely possible.  According to the Storage statistics, I have 8.42 GB available still.  I have very little of anything but applications (and their data) on it.

Is the graphics performance acceptable?  Absolutely.  I'm running Galaxy on Fire 2 HD (my 5th version (?), including the Tegra version), and it's quite good.

Is the display better than acceptable?  Absolutely.  I can't say that there was ever a problem with the 2012 models but this one is quite clear, although the Japanese and Chinese typography could be better.  If I can read the iPhone's 4 inch (1136x640) display clearly, why shouldn't a 7 inch (1920x1200) display be even better?  Maybe, I've missed a setting.

What hasn't changed?  Asus is still the company in charge of the hardware, and Google is firmly in charge of the software and firmware.  There is no flash memory slot of any sort still.  Google is counting on Google Drive for those things.  I have Google Drive, Evernote, and Dropbox on it, but I could add Ubuntu One and Microsoft's SkyDrive (being renamed in the UK) for more cloud storage. has another of those, backed by their own storage that has become rather popular.

The build is better.  There is no creaking or flex that I have noticed.  I miss the previous texture on the back, but this one will do.  This device has two cameras, so you can look a bit silly taking photos or video with your tablet.  The buttons feel quite good.  Someone actually researched it, it seems.  The micro USB port seems to have remained in what I consider the upside down position compared to the devices I've had.

Being that I got it for US$199.99, instead of US$229.99, I feel it's even better, as that took care of an extended warranty including accidental damage.  The official travel case was US$19.99 at Micro Center, where I bought everything else.

Getting started with any device is a pain.  Nothing is ready to go.  Thankfully, I have Google Chrome on my laptop computers and I've allowed Google to sync my bookmarks, etc.  After I connected the account on the tablet, things were set in motion, and it was fairly quick to connect the dots for me.

However, the updates took a lot of time, and it's yet to update the operating system to Android version 4.4 (Kit Kat), so that will take some time.  Downloading my formerly-used applications also took some time and setup.  I also have been reconsidering passwords on accounts.  Having been a "victim" of the Adobe, Ubuntu forums, and MacRumors forums hackings, I have changed passwords here and there, though I've left those three since I am not using that combination anywhere else now and I'm not active on those three.  I should change the Adobe bits, as I will have something to do with them eventually.

In any case, it's probably not wise to have passwords easily at hand with an Android-based device.  They're still too vulnerable.  The Bitdefender software is quite good and gives you a fair evaluation of the possibility of privacy problems.  I'm at 61% with Twitter, Evernote, Google+, Yelp, and others.  Very few applications are clean, and when you connect to the internet, you should consider all of your data publicly-available and work backward to secure it.

I'm not trying to scare anyone.  100% internet security is not possible, so all you can do is help your situation.  Even though things are better on iOS, they're not nearly perfect, either, and you have to deal with third party applications anyway.  Be safe!

The Bitdefender application makes good use of the tablet display, even though it has the "Designed for Phone" label.  It seems to be the exception, although more developers are working toward the goal.  Update 2013.12.08: I've spent the US9.95 for the premium status within the app.  The company has done good work, and while I'm not sure they can save me from every situation, they can use the money as a vote toward enhancements.

If you can't tell, I'm pleased with the tablet.  I'd like to take it out and use it some place in public to see how portable it really feels.  Too many times, I've gone to a restaurant and I've left the computer in the car because it's just too much.  Even a 10 inch tablet seems too much, but this is about big enough to fit on the tray, alongside your meal, as would a book.

Update 2013.11.26: Kit Kat (Android version 4.4) was downloaded overnight.  I'm not noticing any real difference.  Of course, this tablet has plenty of storage and RAM, so what might be improved on a lower end device, squeezed for resources, might not be so noticeable here.

One incredibly good thing, and I don't know whether it's part of 4.3 or 4.4, is the ability to have multiple users on the device.  Just like with the laptop computer, I'd like to keep my photographic business separate from my monkey/personal business.  (No, I don't trade in monkeys, but that would be a barrel of fun.)

Update 2013.11.27: It's been about 1 week, and I think that Asus and Google have really hit the mark on this one.  The only better tablet at this point would possibly be the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX but reports I've read would suggest that it would have a lesser life for upgrades, and of course, you have to deal with Amazon's way of doing things.

Update 2013.12.08: The tablet continues to work smoothly, although there seems to be a continual stream of updates, something I remember with my previous encounters with Android.  It could be a good thing when dealing with security issues, but for other issues or enhancements, it might be too much.  Since this tablet is WiFi only, I might be putting my mobile hotspot account at risk, since I'm limited to 12 GB per month.  I got a warning a few days before the end of the last period when I'd crossed 9 GB after just getting the tablet and doing updates and downloads.

Update 2013.03.24: It's been about four months now.  I'm amused that if I leave the tablet off the charger overnight, it has half the charge in the morning, even with WiFi completely off.  If I take it with me when I'm driving 50 miles or more, the battery seems to be depleted quite a lot the next time I try to use it.  Checking the battery usage, it seems to be "normal" Android business.

Otherwise, nothing much has changed.  There seem to be a steady stream of updates, many times from the same developers, every other day.  There is something to be said for waiting 1 week on non-critical updates, especially if your update causes the problems.

Google seems to be more concerned with loading extra crap over the bugs instead of fixing the bugs first and then, adding new features.  They're not much worse than Apple, but I suspect that they only do minimal, very directed testing inside their development environment.  Apple never seems to test on a bad internet connection, so anything that doesn't work perfectly is a result of someone's connection.

Re-booting seems a must, on either platform.  Despite all the elegant multitasking, Android doesn't seem to be any better at handling real life.  It feels as though it will be another 20 years before these devices feel stable enough to be like watches or appliances.  For that matter, I've had computers since 1981 and the new ones don't seem all that stable over the old ones.

Update 2015.04.27: It seems to be dead as far as Google is concerned.  They've apparently stopped selling it on their site.

Update 2015.08.15: Now with Android version 5.1.1, you'd think that the tablet would perform better than ever, and it doesn't.  Maybe, you have to start off with a clean tablet every few months with Android.  This is Google's brand on the tablet--why is it not exemplary?

They're not replacing it apparently.  Tablet sales are way down overall.  Phablet sales are up.  I use my iPhone 6 almost all the day, and I didn't even power on the Nexus 7 for a couple of months.  Sad, isn't it?

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