The Nexus 7 is all the rage these days, and with good reason. It’s a great product, being sold at a great price, and with Google’s official backing. Despite all that, I don’t think I could possible care less about the thing. Here’s why.
To start things off, the whole notion of stock Android seems a bit ridiculous to me when it comes to the Nexus 7. Yes, it’s Google’s version of Android, and it even has the latest and greatest update to Android, but it isn’t exactly what I would classify as Android without manufacturer modifications. Samsung might have added a few apps and tweaked the design of my trusty old Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus a bit, and in many cases not for the better, but at the very least it shipped with tablet software. The Nexus 7? It uses some sort of a mix between the phone version and the tablet version of Android. I’ve argued that it makes sense to some extent before, and I still think it does as far as the Nexus 7 being a consumer product goes, but calling it stock Android doesn’t seem to quite cover it. More importantly, this choice that Google made doesn’t appeal to me personally.
Of course software is always replaceable, but hardware isn’t. On the surface, the Nexus 7 would appear as being superior to my Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus in every way, as two of the most prominent features – the screen resolution and chip that powers it – certainly are a generation ahead on the Nexus 7. However, whereas screen resolution and speed are “only” improvements, the Nexus 7 physically lacks a scary amount of features that I use quite often. Perhaps the most obvious is the lack of a card slot on the Nexus 7, which can be justified all the way to Alpha Centauri. Streaming services, cloud storage, USB host – I know they exist, and I use them myself, but I still need more than 16GB of storage on all my devices. Clean and simple. When you can get two 32GB microSDHC cards for the price difference between the 8GB and 16GB Nexus 7, I dare also suggest that Google and ASUS had some rather Apple-esque reasons for dropping the card slot. Either way, no card slot, no dice.
The Nexus 7 also lacks several other features that I pretty much demand in a 7-inch tablet. While the rear camera on my 7.0 Plus isn’t exactly suitable for Hollywood productions, one of the reasons why I need a card slot is that I use it a lot- just as I use my phone’s camera a lot. I know that people often don’t find cameras on tablets that useful, but when it’s a semi-decent camera on such a small tablet, that’s not an opinion I share. Even the LED that is there for the sake of the camera gets its share of use as a flashlight.
Then there’s HDMI. Aaron recently got disappointed at the lack of HDMI connectivity on the Nexus 7’s pogo pin dock, and I can’t say I blame him. HDMI output on a tablet is great, and yes, I use it. I do want to point slightly in the direction of the Nexus Q and then back up at my previous point about ulterior motives for some design choices.
Finally, the price. A price tag of $199 is the real reason why people are so interested in this device, but I’m not impressed. At the $199 price point, it doesn’t have many competitors, but at the $249 price point that the 16GB model sells for, it does. One of those competitors is the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, which is essentially a budget version of the now-discontinued Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus that I’ve been comparing the Nexus 7 to in this article. You lose a bit of performance and the camera LED compared to the 7.0 Plus, but generally they’re the same. That means that the screen resolution and performance is better on the Nexus 7, while you get more actual features on the Tab. An 8GB Nexus 7 will cost you $200, a 16GB model $250. An 8GB Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 will cost you $249, a 40GB model (8GB + microSD card) about $275.
I’m by no means trying to talk anyone out of buying – or liking – the Nexus 7 here; I’m just telling you why the device doesn’t interest me. I can completely understand why a good screen and good performance are all anyone needs in a cheap tablet, especially in this streaming-centric day and age. Personally, however, I’d rather live with a lower screen resolution and some hiccups in the menus if it means that I get a tablet that arguably has more features.