I have never really seen the point of the tablet computers, I have constantly been telling friends ‘I don’t get them, they are too expensive, what would you use one for?’ Then the other week I got a brand new Nexus 7 from
The Tyrell Corporation Google. So I feel I should explain myself.
Tablets have been priced in the £300 to £500 range, almost as expensive as an artificial owl, and the lower priced ones have been pretty lame. Till recently the £300 units were some unbranded slow and clunky devices with next to no memory. They work fine for checking emails and listening to music or watching SD video, but most could not play many games as the processor was so slow.
My argument was that for the same money you could get a very good netbook or respectable laptop. You also get a keyboard with a netbook or laptop and much, much more storage. Overall, a lot more bang for the buck. The only real advantage to the tablets was their size and battery life. For everyday portable computing I had my phone.
‘Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about… your cell phone.’ In reply, Light, fast & convenient.
My phone is a Galaxy S2 (named ‘Tannhauser Gate’) and it’s considered a large phone, however the screen is only 109mm (4.3 inches) and typing anything other than a quick note or email is somewhat tiresome and viewing some websites can be a bit like looking through the wrong end of some binoculars. However it works great for most occasions and the main thing is that it’s so small and light that you don’t think twice about taking it with you, indeed I feel naked without it.
At the other end of the mobile spectrum is my old Lenovo T60 laptop that works great and has one of the best keyboards I have ever used, it’s used every day at home and does what I need admirably. Indeed it will do pretty much anything a desktop PC will do but just a bit slower. It also cost a lot to buy (originally). If I go on holiday I sometimes take it with me as it’s useful for checking emails, news and viewing/backing up photos & watching movies etc. However it is just that bit too big and heavy and the battery only lasts for about 3.5 hours.All this makes me think twice before packing it for an off-world trip. I would certainly never consider taking it with me unless I really thought I would really need it.
In the mid range between phone and laptop come tablets. For the physical size I think they are a good comprimise between usability and portability. I should say at this point that not all tablets are the same size of course. They range quite a bit, but for my money, the Goldilocks size is in the 7 inch area, it makes it about the same size as a Kindle. They are large enough to have a decent display and small enough sit nicely in one hand and perhaps most importantly it will fit into a jacket pocket, I think that’s very important because again as you start to get much bigger & heavier then you have to take a bag to carry one and at that point I would consider not bringing it at all. You don’t think twice about taking a phone with you, it should be the same for a tablet. The 16:9 form factor is also a great for video.
Out of the huge amount of tablet kipple rises the Android Nexus 7. At £200 the tablet computer suddenly became much more of a viable option. In a world of cops and little people, the nexus 7 is a cop. Especially as it is so very fast, thanks to the quad core Tegra 3 processor and a 12 core dedicated graphics engine. So I decided to buy one.
The overall experience is gorgeous and very snappy. One of the advantages of Jelly Bean over Ice Cream Sandwich is the new ‘Buttery’ smooth ethos. Google have taken the time to speed up the Android experience, not that it was a slouch before. With that quad core the Nexus 7 runs anything thrown at it without a problem. If it had hands it would be able to pull eggs out of boiling water no problem.
‘We’re not computers, Sebastian, we’re physical.’ – Roy Batty
The keyboard is very easy to use in landscape and portrait. Still nowhere near as good as a physical keyboard, but it’s all about compromises, a keyboard would add bulk and weight to the package. Not to mention extra price.
The display is georgeous and works great for movies. To be honest I am not sure how much better an SD film looks over a HD one. The display is 1280×800 in a seven inch form factor. For my money I am going to stick to using 800×600 for films, they look just fine on the unit and use up much less space.
Space is somewhat of a premium on the unit as it only has 16gig. I want more space… fucker. As cloud computing is much more usable these days the relatively low storage space is not a huge problem. It’s not an issue if you are going to use the unit just for apps, games, books and audio. The only thing that will eat the storage up is video. I have a few films and a dozen or so one hour programs on the unit and still have space. More would have been nicer. However I think that for a holiday the unit will hold plenty of media to keep you entertained for the various flights and coach trips.
Unfortunately there is no SD card slot for this device, which is a great shame. Especially as you can now get class 10 32gig cards for about £20. One solution is to purchase an On-The-Go cable which enables you to connect SD Card readers, cameras or Hard drives to the unit. This does mean you have to remember to pack that cable but not a biggie. Another solution is a WiFi hard drive, but this is much more expensive. Oh, if you are thinking of using an EMS-3 recombination; we’ve already tried it – ethyl, methane, sulfinate as an alkylating agent and potent mutagen; it created a virus so lethal the unit was dead before it even left the table. Before you ask, a repressor protein would not help.
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Therfore one of the main uses for my Nexus will be for reviewing and backing up images from my camera. Using the OTG cable to connect to my camera enables me to copy the images I want to back up to the nexus then move them to another SD card in the camera. That way I have all my images on two separate cards. A bit round the houses, but works well. I think the device needs to be rooted before you can do this. The first day I had my Nexus I rooted it. One app I have to have on my Android devices is Titanium backup, and to use that you need root. Plus I don’t think you are a true Android user unless you have root. 😉
‘Chew, if only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes!’ – Roy Batty
I have started to use the Nexus as a games platform also. By Installing MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) on the unit you can then download a shed load of old arcage games, such as Defender, Asteroids, Boulderdash or Outzone etc. This works especialy well if you use a physical controller such as a joystick or Wii remote to control the action.
‘We’re not computers, Sebastian, we’re physical.’ – Roy Batty
Lastly battery life. Wake up! Time to die! This is one factor where the Nexus wins hands down over phone & laptop. My phone will generally go for about 12 hours if used normally, ie periodicaly reading emails, browsing web sites, listening to music, looking up maps, oh, and making calls. My laptop will last for about 3.5 hours. The Nexus on it’s first day when I was using it all the time lasted about 10.5 hours, way into the night where some milk and cookies helped keep me awake before I drifted off to sleep to dream of unicorns.
I have had it for a week now and I am still using it a fair bit, even so I can get through a couple of days before it needs recharging. Truly amazing, especially considering the huge screen which is the main power drain by far, approx 65%. The light that burns twice as bright usually burns for half as long – but not for the Nexus7 a big improvement over the Nexus6.
The Nexus is not going to lead to the retirement of my phone or Laptop, however it does fill a gap in my mobile computing. It’s certainly a useful device. It will be interesting to see what the next gen devices can offer. For now I am very happy with my Nexus 7, I didn’t know how long we will have together… Who does?
Gosh, you’ve… really got some nice toys here – Roy Batty.