Saturday, September 01, 2012

Nexus 7 - what is it good for?

I bought a Nexus 7 four weeks ago, deliberating violating Gordon's Laws of Acquisition. In particular, I wasn't sure what I'd do with it. I took a calculated risk.

Time for a progress report. I haven't figured out how it can help me. It has however, taught me what to look for in a future device.

The biggest issue is that it's a network-centric device that's wifi only. That would make it potentially useful at home, but here I have my iPhone and my computers. At work there's only the corporate network; some of our offices have a BYOD 'guest' wifi network but we don't. I tried it on the corporate network, but it doesn't easily connect to our peculiar VPN protocol (Lion has no problem. I didn't persist because even if I could make it work there was little added benefit).

In theory it works for reading documents, but I've found that drag and dropping over a wired connection doesn't always put docs in places where the reader app can find them.

I could install standalone added value software that doesn't need a net connection, but I already have a computer at work -- and I have my iPhone.

I can't give it to the kids because there are no parental controls - it's a wide open net device. We like to monitor the kids net use.

I'm still playing with it; technically it's impressive. I'm sure I'd have a use if it had a LTE chip, but then it would be significantly more expensive.

I suspect when if/when I get an iPad of some kind, I'll sell the Nexus 7.

Update 9/2/2012: Charlie Stross has the best guide I've seen to worthwhile Android apps. Ironically for me, the best use of the Nexus may be as a Kindle reader. Also, thanks for comments on this post. To clarify: If I had tethering or mifi there's no doubt it would be useful. In the US that hasn't been cost effective for me, but see American MIFI - priced for a limited and shrinking market and Mobile broadband hope: Walmart, TruConnect, Netzero, Sprint, Amazon and why I'm waiting on my next iPhone.

Update 9/17/2012: I sold it to a colleague who will make good use of it. He got a good deal; when I sell things I want the buyer to be delighted. In the end 7 things killed it for me:

  • Jelly Bean has a longstanding bug with 802.11X EAP connections. That meant I couldn't turn it into a word device. I'm sure this will get fixed, but it doesn't work now. It's been broken for a while.
  • It's a network-centric device without built-in cellular connectivity. An iPhone works well when disconnected, the Nexus doesn't.
  • I expected better identity management -- including OS level support of my 3 primary Google identities. There is some identity support, but it's inconsistent and weird.
  • Jelly Bean reminds me very much of Windows 3.1. I have to manage Win 7, OS X and iOS. I don't have time for Windows 3.1. It's very crude compared to the iOS environment (sorry, true).
  • The App Store is weak, but the Play store is even weaker.
  • Android's security issues.
  • I'm not sure in the end that I really need a pad.

The last one means I'll hold off on an iPad purchase for a while. I do most of my reading work on my iPhone, and I like my MacBook Air for portable work. A low end Kindle may make more sense for me, but at this time I'm holding off on all pad purchases.


Anonymous said...

Couldn't you use that iPhone as a hotspot? Oh, that's right...even if you can, it's only 3G, isn't it?

Charlie Stross said...

I have one.

A couple of notes: it works well with a mifi device, or tethered to a phone -- very well indeed. And the recent release (yesterday) of Softmaker Office for Android put Android *way* ahead of iOS as the best office-docs processing tablet platform (that's ) at least until MS Office for iOS shows up (and that assumes MS don't cripple their flagship office package on a rival platform). Again, Firefox (beta) for Android looks very promising. Add a folding bluetooth keyboard and the whole thing -- mifi, Nexus Tab, and keyboard -- weighs less than an iPad and is a whole lot more useful for, for example, working on Word documents or Excel spreadsheets, or (in my opinion) web browsing (I prefer Firefox to Safari).

(This in no way detracts from your criticisms ...)

John Gordon said...

My 4S is pretty fast in MSP, if I had that speed on the Nexus 7 it would definitely be useful. Problem is AT&T tethering has been unaffordable.

I'm going to reevaluate that option over the next few months.

JGF said...

Charlie, Google decided your comment was spam -- I had to dig you out of the reject pile. Only new to look because I got an email notice. Weirdest rejection I've seen to date, Blogger is generally pretty accurate.

Yes, if I had tethering or mifi it would clearly be useful. I've thought about getting a mifi, but in the US it's hard to beat the data rates bundled with a Verizon iPad - I think Apple got a deal there.

One consequence of this experiment is that I know that If I buy an iPad (mini or full) I'll get one with LTE. I think many Nexus 7 buyers might want to wait for an LTE version...

Anonymous said...

I've recently acquired a tablet myself after a long period of skepticism. I have found that my primary use for it thus far has been as a low-impact extra screen when using a PC/laptop. I can have a reference webpage loaded up on it and it is easier than alt-tab (or equivalent) back and forth on the browser. Secondary use has been bringing it to a coffee shop.

Bud Gibson said...

I have one also. I agree with your perspective on LTE. However, I would go the other way. If the device had LTE and a decent way to make voice calls that didn't require SIP gymnastics, I'd dump my iphone.