Thoughts on the Nexus 7 Android Tablet

Google Nexus 7 in the Box

I love it. The end.

OK, that may not be the most unbiased way to start a review, but I really do love it. Google has really done a good job on the hardware for the Nexus 7. The plastic/leatherette backing feels great when you hold it, and it never feels like it is going to slide away.

Google even paid attention to the packaging. In fact, it looks like they basically copied the iPad packaging, which is not a bad thing.

Nexus 7 Unboxing

I was completely unconvinced that a 7″ tablet would be better that my 9.7″ iPad 2. I surmised that my iPhone would do anything I needed when the iPad was out of reach or inconvenient to carry. It’s a lot like the story of Goldilocks and the three bears.

Pappa Bear – iPad

The Apple iPad is the Pappa Bear of tablets. The large screen is great for playing games or surfing the web. It’s a lot like using a really good net-book, except it’s not frustratingly slow. These days most websites are optimized for the iPad. Flash has been traded for HTML5 and media queries load the correct style sheet to make everything look so nice.

Content Creation

One area where the iPad really falls down for me is in the area of content creation. I know, I know, this is a debate that goes back and forth all the time.

This is actually where I would have guessed having a larger device would be better, but counter intuitively it isn’t, at least for me. The problem is that to type comfortably on the iPad, you need to set it down on table. Oh I remember Steve Jobs introducing it, and typing on it some sitting in a chair, but I find it awkward after only a few minutes.

The iPad is really hard to type on when you are holding it in two hands. I’ve tried holding it in portrait orientation and thumb typing like I do on a smart-phone, but the screen is too wide for me to comfortably reach the keys in the center of the screen.

This sort of defeats the purpose of the tablet though, so if no flat surface was available, I found myself reaching for my iPhone more often than not.


The iPad is a great device for reading, but again with the caveat that you need to be sitting down and resting the iPad in your lap. It’s too heavy to hold for long periods of time, so if you are standing or laying down it might not work well for you.


The iPad is great to watch movies on, but you can already guess what I am going to say. You need to be sitting down and holding it in your lap, or have it propped up on a table or something. It is just too heavy to hold for an entire movie, no matter how good the screen is.

Mamma Bear – iPhone

For me, the iPhone is the Mamma Bear of mobile devices. It is nice and small and you can carry it with you anywhere. It’s the opposite of the Pappa Bear iPad, with its small screen and light weight. The iPhone is a great phone, and music player, and for tapping off quick emails with your thumbs it can’t be beat.

Content Creation

For writing long blog entries though it is terrible. The screen is too small even to see an entire paragraph of what you are writing, and you can forget about doing any real graphics editing.


The iPhone probably will not tire out anyone’s arm from holding it, but the screen is pretty small and while it will make due if nothing else is available, I find myself wanting something with a larger screen if I am going to be reading something long.


The iPhone’s screen it its Achilles heal when it comes to watching movies, retina display or not. I have watched movies and TV shows on my iPhone before but I never liked it.

Baby Bear – Nexus 7

If the Pappa Bear iPad was too big, and the Mamma Bear iPhone was too small, then the Baby Bear 7″ Nexus 7 Android tablet from Google is just right. I was someone who thought that a 7″ tablet was a silly idea, but no more. I like it better than the 9.7″ iPad for almost everything that I use an iPad for, and I like it better than the iPhone for everything except making phone calls or listening to music.

Content Creation

The Nexus 7 is just the right size for thumb typing. The keys are spaced perfectly and I find myself typing more accurately than I usually do on the iPhone. If I am going to write a blog post, I will definitely choose the Nexus 7 over the iPad from now on.


The Nexus 7 is quite similar in size to a Nook or a Kindle, and while it may be slightly heavier than some of those devices, it feels down right feather-like compared to the iPad. You could hold a Nexus 7 for hours while reading and not get tired of it.


I though for sure that the iPad would beat out the Nexus 7 for watching movies, but again my assumptions were turned on their head after using the Nexus 7 for a few days. The difference maker for the 7″ tablet is a 16:9 aspect ratio. This tilts the comparison in favor of the Nexus 7 because almost all movies are delivered in a 16:9 format these days.

The iPad uses a 4:3 aspect ratio, and while that may have its advantages in other areas (I can’t think of any at the moment) for watching movies it means you end up with a lot of wasted screen space that you still have to hold up while you are watching the movie.

With the Nexus 7, you get a picture that is almost as big as what you see on an iPad, with a ton of the weight trimmed off. The PPI is not as high on the Nexus 7 as the 264 PPI you get the on iPad (new/3/whatever), but it is pretty high at 216 PPI.

Final Thoughts

So is the new Nexus 7 my favorite tablet? Um, no.

Holding the Nexus 7

I still am not a huge fan of Android. There are aspects of the interface that still seem wonky compared to their counterparts on the iOS devices (like not having a home button).

The media player that comes with the device is also not super smooth, and nowhere is this more evident that when you access a website that expects your Android device to support flash. Many websites simply detect which OS you are running and choose a media format based on what is known about your OS, but often they do not give you the option to choose another format (like HTML).

Even when the sites do serve out HTML5 videos for you, the player is not easy to use. The controls are not labeled and I repeatedly had the experience of the progress bar appearing and disappearing without me touching it. This is annoying when you are trying to watch a streaming video.

So in the end the Nexus 7 has not made me a believer in Android, but rather convinced me of the utility of the 7″ form factor for tablets. Now what I really want is a 7″ iPad. I’m not sure if that is what they meant to do…

Let me know what you think in the comments.

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