In my first post in this series I looked at the Samsung Chromebook, in this post I will take a look at the Google / Asus Nexus 7. This model is the AT&T 3G edition. This was the second modern tablet I acquired after my iPad. The iPad is a great device but it's like carrying around a laptop. I decided that the best tablet in the world is the one you have with you. An iPad at home on the dresser is not very useful, but a Nexus 7 in your cargo pocket can do anything.
When I started looking for a smaller tablet there wasn't a lot of options. Samsung had the Galaxy Tab 2, Amazon had the Kindle Fire, and Barnes and Noble had the Nook Tablet. Certainly there were a number of other 7 inch tablets out there, but for one reason or another (*cough* Playbook *cough*) they were not up the the specs of the three I was looking at and Apple was still denying they were ever going to make a small iPad.
The Nook tablet had the advantage of being an e-reader that with the addition of a SD card you could turn it into a full Android tablet. However it had an odd shape and I wasn't happy with the Nook store. Most everything digital I purchase was through Amazon and I didn't want to add a second book store to my support list. This turns out to have been a good decision as it seems that B&N has sold the Nook line to Micro$oft and is heavily discounting the newest models which can't be a good sign. The Kindle Fire was also an e-reader but couldn't be turned into a normal Android tablet. Well I am sure it could but it wasn't as easy as the nook. Also while I was already using the Amazon store, the Fire didn't seem to have the power I was looking for.
When the Nexus 7 launched it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. Being a Nexus edition I knew updates would be timely and it was as normal an Android tablet as you could get. The Nexus 7 was the most powerful 7 inch available at the time and starting at $199.00 one of the lowest priced. The graphics chip set is still top notch and gaming on the Nexus 7 is smooth and fast. Reading e-books on it is a dream the screen is sharp and bright and the text and images really pop; when reading on it I do not miss e-ink at all. Magazines and Comic Books are a different story though and I still turn to the larger screen of my iPad for those larger format items.
While this tablet does everything I need from a tablet, is small enough to carry around without a gadget bag to carry it in It does have shortcomings. Audio for example, who in the world thought it would be a good idea to put speakers on the back of a device? They are not that large or powerful to begin with, pointing them in the wrong direction can only make things worse. I have found that the speaker on the Nexus 7 is too quiet to begin with and when you fold the plastic cover around the back to use it you can no longer hear anything. Another shortcoming is the WiFi, which on mine at least seems to always be weaker than any other device in the same location. While I have not had the occasion to use the 3G built into this tablet, the signal strength seems to be on par with my phone so it should be as usable.
There are other competitors now the Galaxy Note 8 and others, but the Nexus 7 is much lower in price and still has all the power you could need. If you need a smaller tablet to use anywhere that a 10 inch isn't practical then look to the Nexus 7
One of the best things about Android tablets in general is that you can customize the interface to be anything you want, make them work in any way that you want. You also don't have to "jailbreak" them to be able to install whatever software you want. This is probably the strongest argument for Android over iDevice. Sure the iPad mini is Apple Awesome, but can it be jailbroken yet? can I install UI tweaks to make it work the way I want to? Why should I have to go through all that? This tablet is my go-to device for work when I am away from home or out of the office.
Oh, and look at the J.J. Abrams-esque lens flair on that last photo. It could be right out of the newest Star Trek Movie.