My new companion: Nexus7

If you’ve read my posts a month or so back, you’ll notice that I’ve been on the lookout for a tablet for a while. I decided to wait until Google I/O before deciding and suddenly I have 3 Nexus devices at home. Unfortunately it’s not released in Sweden yet but thanks to an awesome friend in the US that was solved with just some additional shipping charges.

Nexus 7 ships with the brand new Android 4.1 also known as Jelly Bean. All in all I’m very satisfied and will try to give you a quick write-up on why. This is my first tablet so this will be both, why do you (well, I) need a tablet and why I think the N7 is a good option.

When the iPad was introduced a lot of market analysts was, should we say sceptical? “Who will ever use that thing”, “Tried already by other companies, didn’t work” and so on was the verdict. Personally I was a bit more optimistic. I started using “handheld computers” at my first job. A glorious Palm m500 was replaced by a Tungsten that later became a TX. I used the calendar (not with a lot of meetings though, I was a technician after all), started reading books in PDF and played som games. Some e-mails was written but not many. After moving on with smartphones I had no trouble answering the question “Who will ever use a tablet/pad (or one of the many names)”. I will! I was however not that sure about the price Apple asked for it, and I wasn’t sure if enough “normal” users would like to use it, normal as in less geeky than I.

Fast forward a couple of years. I never got an iPad, I didn’t buy into the Apple ecosystem and considered it slightly expensive while at the same time the screen on my phone kept groving. Now that I got a tablet I regret waiting so long so here is why you should get a tablet if you have the possibility:

  1. Reading e-books is cheaper, easier and by far cooler than regular books :)
  2. Playing games are fun, and much more so on a bigger screen. Just played through classic RTS “Z Origins” and loved every minute (except when my grunts were mocking me for loosing).
  3. Reading news and articles on a tablet is awesome. Some papers and magazines has their own apps, others are adjusted and available via one of the many apps for magazine reading like “Zinio Magazine Reader“. If your favourite news site haven’t made any mobile version several apps does a great adjustment job for you. Right now I’m trying to decide which one to use and run three different ones on and of: “Flipboard“, “Pulse” and “Google Currents“. Favourite right now is Pulse but they all have their pros and cons.
  4. Blogging, mail and just about any writing at all is much much easier on the pad than on a smartphone. It’s not as smooth as on a laptop, but I seldom pick up my computer on the metro. With a nice sync-app everything is of course available on all your devices (Google Drive, Evernote and so on and so on, trying them out as well).
  5. Control other devices, in my case I use it as a remote for my Mac Mini connected to my TV. Get one with infrared port and you can control basically every piece of your TV/home theater setup.

There you go. Now we move on to why Nexus7 is a good choice. This is of course much harder for me to answer since I’ve only owned this tablet but..I’ll give it a try anyway and you just remember my limited experience with other tablets :-)

  1. It’s fast, really fast. I’ve been testing out both a Xoom and a Samsung tab before and this is way smoother (granted, it’s released much later).
  2. You get a whole lot of bang for your buck because the Nexus 7 is cheap, no really, it’s cheap. Starting at $199, compared to the new iPad $499 (yes, the iPad have features the N7 lacks, more on that later) Samsung Tab 2 7″ starts somewhere around $250-299. Finding USD prices from a Swedish IP is always a hassle :)
  3. I absolutely love the form factor. 7″ is perfect for me. As long as I carry a bag (90-95% of the times I leave home) I got it with me. A larger more expensive tablet might be left at home more often. Holding it with one hand is comfortable, not just for a couple of minutes. That’s great if you’re using it for reading. I need to be able to stand up on the metro, hold on to the rail with one hand and still read, like I can with a paperback without trouble. Big enough to be a huge leap in usability compared to my Galaxy Nexus but small enough to be carried and used all the time, to sum it up. The material on the back deserves a mention as well, smooth and rubbery without being sticky, very well chosen by the designers!

    One handed news! Here using Flipboard in portrait mode.
  4. Customization, this goes for all Android tabs. I will probably use my tab a bit different than you so why would we like them to look the same? Of course, you could just let it be and it will work just fine but the ability to change keyboard and features is a core feature for me. That includes widgets which are great on Android phones but is really awesome on a tablet.
  5. As a Nexus device it comes loaded with the latest Android version, the already mentioned Jelly Bean 4.1. It will also be updated directly from Google hopefully quick and easy :)

But… The Nexus7 isn’t perfect of course. If these are deal breakers for you, keep on looking.

  1. If you have an iPhone already, you have to consider the ecosystem factor. Syncing between devices, already bought apps etcetera.
  2. Films likes big screens. If you plan to watch a lot of video you might want to consider a bigger device.
  3. In order to keep the low price on the Nexus Asus and Google removed some common features. There is no 3G/4G/LTE version, you get Wifi and that’s it. There are no camera on the back, just the front facing one. Like all devices I’ve tried the front camera is aimed towards video chat and similar, not snapping good pictures. They also left out the ability to add memory through external card. An unfortunate trend that we see among phones as well.
  4. I would’ve loved an infra red sensor to get rid of my three remotes (sound, TV and IPTV Set Top box), just like the Sony Tab S and the just announced Samsung tab 10.1 has.

A bit longer than I intended, even though most of the post was written on the Nexus itself. That’s how nice typing on it is :-)

The future of mobile electronics

Every blog and paper already published their summaries and lists of both the previous year and decade. I say let’s forget the past, and focus on the future. At least for a little while. I will tell you what you can (might) expect from the future of mobile electronics, maybe not in a year but in 1-5 this is the development I predict.

Since I got my first smartphone I’ve been convinced that it was only a matter of time before the rest of my friends and family followed me into the modern age (i.e. got themselves one of their own). iPhone started exactly that movement. Suddenly there where a phone easy enough, funny enough and produced by a company with enough market share (I’m convinced that an identical phone from HTC for example never would have had the same impact). So slowly my friends and family is jumping on the wagon. What the iPhone started now has turned into friends with HTC Hero, Windows Phone (old Windows Mobile), iPhones and devices from any and all brands. Of course that means that I’m now starting to plan my own jump off from the same wagon. Here’s what I want, and other will figure out in a couple of years:

  • Standard phone features e.g. calling, SMS (starting to feel very outdated but, for a few more years) and such
  • All my internet needs in a mobile device, including mail (and wave/other collaboration tools), streaming videos, streaming music, reading blogs and news sites
  • eBook reader (no use fighting it, sorry librarians and other “paperback-huggers” time to adapt)
  • Some games and other miscellaneous stuff.

To read books, extensive articles online and browse the web somewhat comfortable I need a bigger screen than my Samsung Galaxy got (3.2”). The problem is that already a phone of this size sometimes feel a bit clumsy to carry around. When I don’t have a jacket/bag, at a party or on the town, going to the beach etcetera. There’s also an economical aspect in this. My phone suddenly cost the same as an average laptop and that’s before the bigger screen and additional features mentioned above. Phones are easily lost, stolen or broken. Nothing strange there, it’s the same with all things we carry with us everywhere. I remember an interview with a scientist researching crime among youths in Sweden a couple of years back. He/she said that one of the reasons for the increase of robbery against individuals is that we carry much higher values on our persona. We stopped having cash in our wallets but instead we got expensive mobile phones, mp3 players and so on.

Solution? As everything gets combined into the same device (do they still sell mp3 players or cameras without a mobile phone included? :) ) I predict an excelling need for different products for different occasions. I will most likely in the coming two (ehm, one if I know myself) years change my smartphone for a “stupid phone”. That phone should be small, cheap and manage just the basic functions like placing calls, simple e-mail and maybe music. A revival of my old Sony Ericsson K750i maybe? :) At the same time I will buy a tablet that is more of a hybrid of today’s:

  • tablets (Archos 5-like);
  • ebook reader (nook-like);
  • smart phone (Nexus One-like);
  • netbook;
  • mediaplayer (iPod touch-like).
Combined in one?

This baby will follow me to work and longer journeys, but not on short trips to the town and such. Then once again I will be telling my friends and family: This is the future of mobile electronics!

This post was inspired by numerous blogs and news sites over the year and the pictures are standard ones that’s flooding the web. Any objections to me posting this pictures can be sent to me and I will sort it out. Special thanks to the Swedish site that always keep me in the loop on Android news.