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Google Nexus 7

Image : http://bit.ly/MdWcXx
Many android tablets have launched and failed to gain mainstream consumer acceptance. Plagued by high prices, inferior clunky and unrefined hardware, a lack of tablet applications, outdated operating system software, lag prone user interfaces, and real world performance that does not match the hardware specifications, the Google Nexus 7 breaks through this cluttered fog of half baked hardware by offering consumers a really solid, well designed, and highly refined user experience at a price point that gives the Kindle Fire and even the iPad a run for the money. Will other companies take a hint from this strategy? 

A tech expert on The Verge has preformed a thorough review of the soon to launch 7 inch Google Nexus tablet. Consider the following an editorial commentary on the news about this product.

Form Factor

My previous blog posting was all about why compact cameras make better sense for the mainstream consumer market. A camera that is too large to fit in your pocket is far less mobil, and as a consequence you do not see a lot of people carrying around DSLR's with them everywhere. What you do see is people busting out smartphones and point and shoots to take photos just about everywhere. The pervasive use of these compact cameras is directly related to their convenient form factor, light weigh and portability. Could the tablet makers benefit from taking a hint from the camera sector or ultrabook markets?

Two Handed iPad 

The iconic iPad line from apple brought the world 10 inch tablets (9.7 to be more precise). Apple continues to revolutionize the high end tablet space with class leading graphics performance and retina class pixel density displays. While these are works of art, they are also hefty like a DSLR, weighing in at almost a pound and half. While that makes a 3lb laptop seem heavy, it is still leagues away from the diminutive hand friendly mass of a paper back novel. Amazon's 6inch e-ink kindle really took a design cue here. If you want someone to hold a digital reading device and use it like a book, it actually has to be similar in size and weight. Try hold and using an iPad with 1 hand for any length of time.... good luck unless you are a weight training enthusiast with large hands.

One Hand Usability

Amazon continued to make use of this 1 hand friendly form factor knowledge when they were designing the Kindle Fire. While the Kindle fire is cool for its price, the Nexus 7 at the same highly reasonable $199 price puts out that fire with a strong breeze of freshness from the Google Asus partnership. It remains to be seen how the Nexus 7 will stack up against the Fire in the free market, but I am betting that Googles will ship out at least tens of millons of these Nexus 7's.

Intentional Design

If you listen to the interview between Matias Duarte and Joshua Topolsky, you will recognize the level of design consideration and attention to detail that went into the Nexus 7. Duarte is the director of Android operating system user experience at Google. Joshua Topolsky is the cofounder and Cheif Editor of "The Verge", the worlds best technology culture website. They discuss the forthcoming Nexus 7 tablet in detail. Have a look: http://vrge.co/QCrWEw

A Comprehensive Review

Tech expert editor Topolsky spent some quality time using the Nexus 7 and gave it an absolutely glowing user review. If you read and or watch the review it should be obvious why he has given the Nexus such high review scores. Topolsky is a well known and self proclaimed Apple enthusiast who claims that almost all previous android tablets are lacking something. The Nexus 7 is really the first highly polished android tablet. Project butter at Google makes the user interface fluidity finally preform on par with iOS on an iPad. You get this level of refinement in a product that is less than 1/2 the price of an iPad. If you are interested in the Nexus 7, please have a look at his official review.
http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/29/3125396/google-nexus-7-review

**July 10th Update** 
Also check out the Ars Technical piece on the Nexus 7 : its fresh and deep ! 
http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/07/divine-intervention-googles-nexus-7-is-a-fantastic-200-tablet/


The Official Nexus 7 Page 


https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=nexus_7_8gb

Watch the Nexus 7 video from Google on YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMQdfGFK5XQ&feature=player_embedded


Android Update Failures Hold the Competition Back From Success

Of the hundreds of different iterations of android handsets and tablets in use today, the overwhelming majority of them have outdated versions of android. Their manufacturers fail to publish android updates to these devices, instead focusing on their upcoming products. For many people who are locked into a two year contract, this is a really bad deals as they are left hanging with good hardware running old out of date software. Lets take a look at the numbers.




Image : http://goo.gl/h95pB
Image from The Verge : Vergecast 037 July 5th 2012


The Nexus 7 launches with the newest 4.1 Jelly Bean version of Android. With all of the latest hardware drivers tuned, security updates and glitches patched, it is the most fluid version of android yet. This brings up another question. Why should all of the people using older android hardware be neglected by these important updates? Josh T. and the other editors at The Verge are frustrated that so much of the android hardware is not getting an update to 4.1, the majority are still running 2.3: and the hardware makers fool and tweek android with goofy samsung and htc stuff. Old versions of the OS, skinned with goober and loaded with crapware: this is why android hardware is wacky: irritating customers.


Shotgun Fragmentation Failure

The problem is the shotgun strategy approach that so many companies have taken with android devices.  Rather than focusing on making a few really good devices, they pump out tons of different models of half baked crap trying to address every use case, but in doing so they fail to address any of their customers with pleasure based brand loyalty engendering care. 

The Data Plan Costs More Than the Hardware

The really confusing part about this is that the most expensive component of a smartphone is the data fee with cell phone taxes applied: the hardware is relatively cheap by comparison. Think of the $600 iPhone (off contract price), at $38 (tax included) extra every month, owning the iPhone racks up $912 worth of data fee's in two years. If these data plans were optional, the nature of my arguments would change. I think consumers deserve the option to choose pay for the phone full retail and then only choose to put a basic voice package on it: connecting the smart device to wifi where it is available.

A Lack of Understanding


If consumers would wake up and manufacturers followed suit, all of this trashy half baked outdated android hardware would not exist. If samsung, htc, and others just focused on producing at most two devices per cycle, a high and a low end, they could allocate more resources to keep these devices updated for longer, with optimized hardware drivers that deliver better battery life, less lag and improved overall performance.

Neglecting Customers 

Shame on the mobile sector for not using better judgement and for neglecting their customers. If they seriously cant figure out why Apple is winning, then they need to stop, step back, look in the mirror and figure out a simple pair of facts. Companies that please and pleasure their customers will thrive. Companies that frustrate and neglect their customers will fail!


Google Refreshing Customers

I am glad that Google has stepped up to the plate to deliver one really high quality tablet. I hope they focus on keeping this tablet updated in order to continue delighting their customers long after the Nexus 7 has launched. In a late night blur with a few hickups updating my google wallet and tying all of my google accounts together I managed to preorder a Nexus 7. Googles offer of throwing in a free $25 content bonus spiced the deal up enough for me to pull the trigger. Admittedly, knowing that Google is selling the tablet at or below their costs to manufacture it was also a strong influence: this means that as a consumer you are getting even more hardware for your dollar. For $199 the Nexus 7 is an absolutely amazing value! The relatively thin app market for android tablets should also improve, especially if Goggle manages to market and ship tons of these Nexus 7's.

Paid Updates an Option 


It dawned on me while updating this posting that handset makers could charge a small price for device updates in order to offset the cost of publishing the updates for older hardware. I am sure that customers would be more than happy to pay $10 to make sure their cool android handset has the best, most stable and most secure software running. I imagine that tablet customers would likewise be willing to pay a small price annually to keep their tablets software up to date!

Will These Words Make a Difference? 

I wonder if anyone that has the power to change anything in this industry will actually read my blog posting and take something away from it that will inspire them to make positive profit boosting customer pleasing changes. In all seriousness: while I am a fan of Apple, OSX and iOS, I really dislike the quality monopoly they have built. I know that other companies like Good and Amazon can produce competition, but with the exception of the Nexus 7, much has been lacking in this regard. Apple sits alone at the head of the innovation curve while other companies trail behind trying to play catchup.... This sad truth reminds me of how RIM is having troubles staying afloat despite all of the early contributions that made to innovating in their sector. Proof that you have to continue pleasing your customers with innovation if you hope to survive in today's fiercely competitive mobile hardware and app markets.

Bad Personal Experience

While my initial enthusiasm for Apple products was born out of my wonderful experience with the 2nd generation iPod Nano, the 2nd Gen iPod Touch is what really built up the Apple Fan in me. A macbook unibody followed; oozing with quality, style and trackpad grace, my brand loyalty only increased. Then the cherrypal asia hit the tech news, and I thought I would give android a whirl....

Cherrpal Kirf-ailure

Trying to get ahold of the 10.1in cherrypal asia was a headache to begin with. The unethical company took my money and then delayed shipping this piece of half baked e-waste for months. When it finally arrived, it looked cool, but that was where the enthusiasm ended. Running a chinese kirfy copy of android 1.5, it was anything but cool. Slow, buggy, barely functional. I guess for that price I should have known better. The screen is mediocre at best: functional: same with the tiny trackpad. The app market included was not the official one, but a chinese clone market with lots of apps described in a language I cannot read. The keyboard works ok, if you can find an app worth using it for. This chuck of half baked trash biased my view about android hardware.

Tried the Xoom went with the iPad 2

After getting my 4th generation iPod Touch, I tried my brewing partners Motorola Xoom. While the Xoom was a radical improvement over the CP Asia, it left many things to be desired. I ended up buying an iPad 2 mid cycle and have absolutely enjoyed it ever since: it is a giant iPod touch and works perfectly with the rest of my Apple configured equipment (Apple TV) (Dice in the car) (Chargers) (Syncing to Macbook): the Apple App market place is full of high quality applications and content. I got my first digital magazine (Popular Science) through the iPad. While the online tech news is cool, the paid Magazine gives a much richer reading experience. It costs about the same as a subscription to a printed version, but without all of the paper waste. I mostly use the iPad for browsing the internet, playing words with friends with my girlfriend, playing chess, and email/ messages. While the screen on the iPad 2 is only 1024x768, that is the same resolution as my first color computer monitor, but with much greater pixel density as that monitor was 14inch rather than 9.7.

Nexus 7 for an Apple Fan

So why the Nexus 7 you might ask? Good question.

On the surface it does not make sense for an Apple enthusiast like me to buy any android hardware: but I am more than just an Apple Fan. I have been interested in electronics and technology since I was a child, long before iOS existed! While my enthusiasm for consumer electronic hardware has tempered as of lately, I am still interested in cutting edge technology if the price is right.

Google hit the consumer sweet spot by building a device superior to the kindle fire that retails for the same $199 price. I had often considered getting a fire, but after talking to random Kindle Fire users in public, and hearing about the semi-flaky silk browser, I decided to forgo such a choice. The other android tablets at the fire's price point are half baked. No thanks. The Nexus is really the first solid android tablet at an affordable price. 

I will update this post with a full review of the Nexus 7 after I have had some time behind the driver seat with it the way that Duarte suggested one should drive (one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on that customized smooth curved edge of the Nexus 7.) LOL Considering the nexus 7 includes a GPS chip (gyro's, acclerometers, compass, HD IPS 7in touchscreen), that funny joke might have more meaning in reality as a 7 inch replacement of my functional but otherwise boring Garmin 255 navi ~

Google is throwing in a $25 free content incentive if you pre-order, effectively making the deal impossibly amazing. Can anyone say loss leader consumer hardware deal frugtastic! The price is unreal for what you get, especially with that $25 content credit thrown in :) Happy Birthday to Me 2012 !


***Updated July 3rd***

I Fix It : Teardown is Online 
http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Nexus-7-Teardown/9623/1?revisionid=HEAD&fb_source=message

That is so cool :) When I was a young man I use to love to take things appart to see how they were made and what they were made of. iFixIt gives me a special pleasure on account of this background :)

This N7 is cool for a lot of reasons !

Tegra 3 : A quad core ARM processor by NVIDA that has a 5th power conserving battery enhancing companion core to run music, standby, and other low power processes: enabling extremely dynamical power scaling which gives fantastic performance while also offering state of the art battery conservation , giving over 9 hours of average user use out of a 16Wh lithium polymer battery: more powerful and more power efficient than the Kindle Fire.

Stand alone GPS chip: a high precision and high sensitivity poly channel chip that can fuse 9 channels of spacial data from the other inertial measurement provided by the 3 channel mems accelerometer and 3 channel mems gyroscope. This allows applications access to high precious device orientation, enabling not only class leading GPS functionality, but also enhanced fluidity and responsiveness in motion controlled applications. This "unlocked" GPS functionality was the strongest selling point to me.

216ppi (pixels per inch) on the 7inch 1280 x 800 IPS glass fused capacitative touch enhanced LCD. While this is not better than the retina display on the "new iPad", remember that the "new iPad" is far more than $200.

 The Goog N7 also comes with project butter enhanced Android Jelly Bean 4.1 : This version of android was developed with a strong emphasis on reducing user interface lag that plagued previous versions of android: increasing the frame rate of screen animations so as to introduce buttery smooth fluidity to the touch responsiveness in the user experience. Read the review of Android 4.1:
http://www.theverge.com/2012/7/3/3134347/android-4-1-jelly-bean-review

The lighter design means it will be more comfortable to hold for extended reading sessions, and less of a brick to add to your bag, jacket, pants, glove box, or whatever you choose to carry it in.

Benchmarking shows the N7 dominating competitor products that cost far more. The N7 achieves a geekbench score of 1,472, while also pulling down 55.9 fps in Nenamark. Solid performance, especially for the affordable $199 price.



*** Update July 6th *** 

Ars Technica editor Casey Johnston, wrote a preview piece about the Nexus 7:

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/06/i-can-have-everything-googles-nexus-7-unboxed/

In the comments section of this article, I found the following worthy quotations.

"This looks to me like the first serious pressure on Apple's tablet hegemony. I have an iPad 3 and I still might pick one of these up."

"It
 runs actual Android, not hacked together carrier or OEM modified Android. For many, thats a huge benefit, especially given that support will be from Google for new versions.""get excited about the fact that has a real tablet SoC, runs Android 4.1, and costs $200. The Kindle Fire has sold really well, and this blows it completely out of the water at the same price point."


***Update July 17th ***

:) Fast Shipping : Thank you UPS 

It arrived :)

UPS got it from world port to my door in less than 24 hours, although the weekend caused a pickup delay: once the "work week" started, it was off and arrived the next day (today :) Yay !

I am typing this update on the nexus 7. Unlike my iPad, the nexus 7 is able to effectively edit blogger postings. Now I have a truly mobile power efficient way to blog :)

Setup was a breeze, an extremely refined and fast procedure. The UI is buttery smooth and fluid, with a responsive keyboard that has excellent word prediction. The chrome browser feels great, fast and efficient.

I will update this again after I have had more time with it! If my first impressions are an indication of the overall refinement then this N7 is even cooler then I thought it would be. Its much easier to hold then an iPad and two thumb typing is far easier and less straining!

I watched the included film (Transformers 3 Dark of the Moon) on the N7. The full 720P was nice, and the display was sharp and bright, with good color saturation. Off angle viewing seems to work great and it does not sap the battery, you could easily juice through a full movie and get some serious time behind an -ebook while listening to some cloud streaming music before this things battery would fade. This would be ideal for travel. The movie itself was OK, I agree with IMDB about the score : I would give it a 6.3. The special effects were great but the acting was only ok. In terms of emotional affect, it was limited, thus I subtracted a whole point for a lack of plot interest and an whole point for "Ok" acting, I also subtracted a whole point for the choppy editing. The remaining -0.7 comes from a subjective depreciation based on my overall feeling after watching the film and reflecting on it within the context of the other two preceding films.

iOS still has the edge for cursor control in text editing, the one in 4.1 is jumpy and sensitive. That said text editing works really well for a tablet. I am just glad I can efficiently edit my blog postings with it ;)

After playing with it for a few hours (that game OSMOS HD is awesome), I have discovered that it works really really well. I will give it a preliminary 9.3 out of 10 overall score. It will take me months to get a real "feel" for it before I can write a comprehensive and objective review. Check back in early September for an updated posting about it!

That $25 google play credit included with the N7 scored me that awesome game (osmos) and a copy of Autodesk's Sketchpad app, leaving a little less than $20 worth of store credits left for more fun ^^ That was actually the one thing that sweetened the deal enough for me to pull the trigger! Effectively with the store credit, your total out of pocket with tax and shipping in WA is only a touch over $200 for the 8GB version. To me, 16GB is not much more than 8. I only docked my review score 0.7 because there is not SD or TF card for memory expansion.

What an outstanding value! Well made,  great hardware, great software, smooth UI, excellent price point! Its cool to think about things improving from this point: that would means some epic stuff is in the R&D supply chain manufacturing pipe-line for consumer enjoyment in the near future!

Good work Google : Woot Woot Asus ^^ The N7 gives the iPad real competition!

Did I mention that Google already pushed a software update to my N7 ^^ that is so refreshing! After hearing about one story after the other of android hardware makers ignoring their customers with software updates: this fast turn around time and timely updating is a refreshing breath of fresh air!

***Update August 20th 2012***

A new unit is going to be shipped to me soon.

I called technical support today regarding a touch screen response issue that appears to be software related. After my Nexus 7 has been left in standbye for a while, when it is resumed, the touch screen becomes laggy and unresponsive. This problem is easily rectified by simply power cycling the Nexus 7 off and then back on again, after which it resumes working well. Sadly, the touch screen begins to exhibit sporadic responsiveness after being on for a while.

When I described this problem to the Google Play technical support team, they offered to send me a new unit free of charge with a pre-paid envelope in which I can return my old unit. He told me that only a tiny percentage of the Nexus 7's are affected by this problem. He said that a few problems in manufacturing had been discovered and corrected, and that because of the very low device malfunction rate, I would likely receive a new unit in perfect working order. He also said that if I have any problem with the new unit, they will replace it with another free of charge until I get one that works, or they will just return my money : no questions asked. I really like the Nexus 7, so I would like one that works!

I will update this posting further to report on the fluidity of the replacement process along the way. Today was just step 1 in a series of steps that will be required to address this issue. Happily, I have an iPad to play with, and the Nexus 7 works fine for hours if the unit is simply power cycled.

Google's customer support gets an A+ for stage one of rectifying my issue efficiently!

I printed the return shipping label, RMA slip, Explanation and Instructions: professionally repacked it like new after performing a factor reset. Put the OEM package with all OEM parts supplied into the OEM box and then re-used a small shipping box to box for shipping the package in a way that protects it from all sides using only recycled cardboard sheets bent into shapes :) I taped it off and attached the label, then water tapped the whole box so that it is rain resistant and so the label is waterproof. It is now ready to be sent. When my new one arrives I will promptly bring this one to a UPS store to send it off! Hope the new one arrives promptly!

*** Update Aug. 22nd 2012  ***
The new (replacement) Nexus 7 has shipped: 2nd Day Air via UPS :)


*** Update Aug 24th 2012 ***
The new Nexus 7 arrived, and it works perfectly.
As of today Sept. 19th 2012, it has been in perfect working order. The battery life on this model seems improved as well. Working with google on the warranty replacement was a very pleasant experience. Thank you Google for taking care of me.



1 comment:

  1. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

    ReplyDelete