Opinion: Nexus 7 – Dawn of a new age, or failure of an existing one?

Well most people will be waking up this morning to the news that Ebuyer and Google either are, or will shortly be dispatching Google’s new Flagship Nexus device, the Nexus 7 tablet, running Jelly Bean 4.1 OS.

Let’s just run through the key specs of Google’s newest device:

  • 7″ 1280×800 HD display (216ppi)
  • 8/16GB of Internal Storage
  • 1GB RAM
  • Quad Core Tegra 3 Processor running at 1.4Ghz with all cores under load
  • Battery of size 4325 mAh, suitable for around 9 hours of HD Video Playback (example)
  • 1.2MP Front facing camera
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS

And last but not least:

  • Size of 195 x 120 x 10.45mm
  • Weight of 340 grams

Impressive specifications for a price tag of either around £159 for the 8GB model, or just £199 for the 16GB model.

Let’s just look at reasons why people would purchase this before I get into my reasons for not doing so.

It’s a nice form factor by most accounts – 7″ seems to be the new 10″. It also isn’t too heavy at all meaning that 7″ can be easily handled.
The Tegra 3 is known for its GPU, so for gamers this would really be a draw. It also comes packing Google’s newest release of it’s AndroidOS, Jelly Bean, which, with Project Butter (a project undertaken by the GoogleBods to make Android as slick as anything else on the market, or better!) would be a draw for anyone looking for a tablet. On top of that (and I’m sure more) the price point of under £200 for this sort of device is just phenomenal.

Now, as excited as I am to “see” it in use, I’m less enthused as a consumer. Here’s why.
I have owned Smartphones pretty much throughout their life cycle and I have seen the changes they have undergone. Changes to size, additions of Camera, Data connectivity becoming greater and cheaper, and the portability and roaming capabilities of the devices improving. The change to the size has no doubt been one of the biggest (excuse the pun) in recent years. Smartphones with 3″, no 4″, no 4.7″ displays hitting the market signalled the sea change in mind-set for people owning a smartphone. No longer was it a device simply to update Facebook, Twitter, and make and receive calls and texts on; it could now accurately be used to VPN in to work applications, send complicated emails easily, update productivity documents (Word, Excel etc) and Video Call. All these things I am in favour of, hence why I purchased the Galaxy Nexus when it was launched little over 6 months ago. The size, big, yet usable, coupled with the Ice-Cream Sandwich AndroidOS version, made me dip into my wallet.

I also already owned a Motorola Xoom and had been flashing ROMs on that constantly, and using it as a media device.

Since getting my Galaxy Nexus, I found myself taking movies on my Phone to watch during travel, and Skype calls over my phone were just as good as my Xoom, better even due to the smaller nature of the device. It packed a real punch and managed to deliver all the functionality my 10″ Xoom did, in a 4.7″ chassis.

So there’s one point: If you have a Smartphone which is bigger than 4″ in screen size, is there any advantage to owning a Nexus 7?

If you are an iPad user, you’ve long had the ability to use a sleek device capable of browsing and emailing at will. You will also have suffered the absence of Flash in recent years also, meaning that some content on the Internet is beyond your reach (until people get their act together perhaps). The Nexus 7, you’d be forgiven for thinking, is an Android device and as such supports flash? Wrong, Flash on Jelly Bean devices is a no go. There are ways around this of course, but as it stands, you will not be able to download Adobe Flash from the Play Store, and use Flash content on your Nexus 7. So if content was a reason for a change, why switch from an iPad you might think?

I’ve long since argued that the advancement of hardware is vastly out-pacing the advancement and needs of software development. We now processors of capable infrastructure (Dual and Quad Core processors for example) ANY operating system we care to use with these processors should fly. Speed and animation on an OS just should not be an issue anymore, and whilst Project Butter for Jelly Bean has, and is hailed as a great leap forward for the OS, it should certainly not have taken this long to introduce. Apple’s iOS is a prime example of that. We can see that the market jumped a bit too quickly into it’s “we can do it, so let’s do it” development pool, by releasing many different (albeit similar in many ways) 10″ tablet variants, hot on the heels of Apple iPad’s success. Why did they follow suit? Was it because it was the right thing to do in terms of consumers, or was it because they wanted a slice of the action Apple was currently hogging? I think we can all do the math on that one.

The bell has truly told here and many users refused to purchase similar sized tablets as Apple’s flagship iPad, simply because the software was considered significantly inferior to iOS.

So what do we have now; a Google device with Project Butter all over it in a 7″ form factor (something that has been long rumoured Apple have looked at, but as yet, nothing has been announced).
Do consumers “need” this device with the Smartphones and Tablets already on the market?
Is this just a case of one-upmanship from Google in its attempt to jump ahead of its Cupertino rivals?
Will the Nexus 7, and the no doubt sea of 7″ devices soon to be available, simply fall into the technological dustbin of historical failures, along with the Netbook (the jury is out for some, but not many!)?

I for one, if I didn’t have a significantly sized Phone, and a Motorola Xoom, would look at the Nexus 7 device for home use. However I do and therefore I won’t. What I can tell you though, is regardless of the questions I posed just above as to why the Nexus 7 might not be the holy grail, Google have given it a great chance of selling well due to its price point; something Apple would find hard, and simply wouldn’t even try, to compete with.

Let us know your thoughts on the Nexus 7 below, or over at our Forums.

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  • Anonymous

    I’m posting this from my Xoom with the latest Eos nightly jellybean ROM on it. It’s fabulous and for that reason I won’t need to buy the nexus 7. However if I had a Xoom 2 struck on honeycomb I would be sorely tempted!

    • Craig

      Right so the only reason you’d consider switching to the Nexus 7, is not the hardware, the form factor or the design in general, it’s the software? Says a lot about what drives our market now, which is why hardware should be tiered back and more development time spent on optimisation rather than perceived innovation. Thanks for your comment.

  • mark

    I bought a cheap chinese 7″ tablet running ICS, which i loved for browsing, facebook and youtube rather than firing up the laptop, since the announcement of the nexus 7 i have committed it to the kids and i am going to buy a nexus 7, next week…
    My current phone of choice is a desire HD which i am still happy with and though it is up for renewal this year, i can’t see anything i would upgrade to as it does everything i require of it.

  • dave

    there making this at a loss so other company’s carnt get into the market anymore but your not writing about this !!!!!!

    if apple did this and made it so no one else could come into the market you would be all over it….

    • Craig

      In fairness, I did mention a bit of one-upmanship by Google to steal a march on Apple’s protracted iPad Mini. The article is more about whether the product design/footprint is worthwhile in today’s market…not necessarily the economics behind it.