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Gear Review: Google Nexus 7


A few months ago, I purchased a Google Nexus 7 tablet to replace the netbook I had been lugging around.  I did it for one reason: to save weight. I like it. It does everything I need.

 Is that enough of a review or do you want more?  All right, I’ll give you more.

Let’s take a step back and start from the beginning.

Like most people, I first set my sights on the Ipad. But after playing with it in the store, I felt it was bigger than I needed and much heavier. Rumors were all over the place about a smaller Ipad but they never seemed to materialize. The Kindle Fire was released but it seemed more a platform for Amazon than a fully functioning tablet It was also without Bluetooth, something I definitely needed.

 And then I started reading about the Google Nexus 7.

Specs: A 7” screen, weight of 12 oz, wi-fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth, 8 or 16 GB HD, 1 GB SDRAM,  microphone, GPS, a standard micro-usb plug, and the ability to load books, music and video direct and not have to go through something like Itunes.

Sounded great.

There were downsides:  no support for flash, limited to 8 or 16 GB of HD, not all Android apps would work on it.  

Yet all the reviews at the time said it was the best of the 7” tablets. So, I plopped down $249 and took one home.

I was happy.  It did everything I wanted. I downloaded apps to take care of just about all my needs: word processing, surfing the net, posting and editing to this site, making and keeping track of travel arrangements, news, streaming radio, etc.

And then  I found one app that changed the game.

For $2, I downloaded Nexus Media Importer.. The app, when paired with a Micro USB OTG to USB 2.0 adapter, less than $2 on Amazon, lets you plug a flash drive or SD card (if you have an SD card reader) into the tablet and read from it thus expanding the HD to basically unlimited amounts depending on how many flash drives you take.  I currently have a 32GB flash drive with books, audio and video attached to mine. (Unfortunately, however, you can’t download to the flash drive as of yet.)

How well does it work?

When paired with my wireless Bluetooth keyboard, I can do almost anything I could on the netbook. (I even find the onscreen keyboard easier and more responsive than the ones on the Ipad. )

Surfing the net is easy with the included Google Chrome browser. Apps for Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, and more, work fine.

GPS works if you only have one destination and pre-set it. If you need to add a destination after you leave, you’ll have to find a way to connect to the internet first.

The only trouble I’ve had occurs occasionally when I disconnect the USB OTG cord. the Nexus 7 sometimes crashes and needs to be rebooted.  More of a nuisance than a real issue.

Usage time is pretty good. They claim up to 10 hours of web browsing or ereading. I get about 7-8  hours of browsing as long as there’s no audio or video streaming. Being continually connected to wifi uses up battery time.

Overall, I like it.

The Google Nexus 7 is no longer available in the 8 GB version. You can buy it in the following configurations:

16 GB wifi—$199

32 GB  wifi—$249

32 GB wifi and HSPA (ATT or T-Mobile)—$299

(Both the ATT and T-Mobile versions come with unlocked.)

I know some of you are going to ask: Why Android over Apple? Well, I had an Ipod Touch and liked it. I was planning on getting an Iphone 5 so I knew I would continue using Apple products. But, I had never had anything with Android. Everyone I know who used the platform loved it so, I thought, I might as well give it a try.

And that’s the reason I chose Android.

I’m sure there are some of you with specific questions. Feel free to ask as I know I didn’t cover everything.


Reader Comments (12)

So, with Nexus Media Importer paired with a Micro USB OTG to USB 2.0 adapter, are you able to upload photos from your camera?
March 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEileen
I purchased the Google Nexus 7 after being disappointed with the release of the iPad mini. I think it's a great value for the price, especially compared to the expensive iPad mini. I have occasional problems with it crashing but I do with my iPhone as well. My husband bought the iPad mini and I really don't notice much of a difference. The only thing I don't really like is that email attachments don't automatically open the way they do on my iPhone.
My favourite app is 10000+ Books. Not sure how they can offer the free books they do (there is no corresponding app on iTunes so I wonder if it's entirely legal) but it's saved me a ton on ebook fees.
March 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWendy K
Ellen...good question. I hadn't tried.

Here's what I did:

Put the SD card from the camera into an SD card reader and connected it to the Nexus 7. I then saved the images onto the Nexus 7. Then I emailed them to myself so I could save them on my computer's hard drive. Once you save it, you can also share it on Facebook, Twitter, etc. (I haven't tried it but it says you can.)

You can also plug your Nexus 7 into your computer and just transfer the files as well.

So, the answer to your question is......yes.

Wendy...my Nexus 7 is blocking that app so apparently it's not very legal. There are thousands of books in public domain but almost all were published before 1930.
March 6, 2013 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW
I own all the ipads including the mini. I also have a nexus 7. It is a great device and a better value than the ipads including mini.
3 additional things: easy to root or really understand android. This in of itself is a big advantage over nook and kindle for example.
Camera works well for skype
Gps does work without an internet connection if you use a 3rd party app with maps.
I would highly recommend one, but in a couple of months as i think its due for a refresh. While one can never be ahead of the tech curve, this is not a new device so to speak.
Only real con for me is that of the mainstream andriod tablets, this has amoung the fewest 3rd party accessories, but amoung hardcore android users, is often considered the best of the small tablets. I imagine the next samsung (which is now an old device) will be competative.
March 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRalph
The first app I purchased for my iPhone was Zagat, invaluable for choosing restaurants in unfamiliar cities. At the end of last year, it stopped being updated for the iPhone/iPad platform. Tonight I noticed however that it is available for the Android phone and tablet system. I don't plan to change my system for the sake of one app....but it would be a reason for a traveler to consider Android.
March 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlan B
Zagat is now considered old school and outdated. It's now possible to get more recent restaurant reviews on apps such as "Foursquare" "Urbanspoon" and "Yelp." Even Trip Advisor.

I remember relying on Zagats for restaurant recommendations but the newer apps are better.

March 14, 2013 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW
Thank you Frank for the recommendation. I downloaded Urbanspoon onto my iPhone, my wife onto her iPad. As you say, "YMMV," preliminarily our preference remains the Zagat format, with the trio of ratings 0-30 for Food, Decor and Service, rather than a single global rating. Reading some of the ratings for our local restaurants on Urbanspoon proved...amusing. Where we REALLY need good information of course is during travel...so, we'll see.
March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlan B
Hmmm. I now have my Tom Bihn Co-Pilot, with Cache for iPad, but find that the latter occupies rather more of the bag than I'd like. I might in fact take a look at a Nexus 7 mainly for out of area travel, rather than take my full-bore 64 GB + 3G/4G iPad. I do have the first generation Kindle Fire, little used since I got my iPad, but its web surfing performance is mediocre, and I am not sure about the apps available for it. The 7-inch size regardless certainly is convenient for when one is limited to an Economy class seat for half a day.
March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlan B
Might I assume that all of my Kindle content would be accessible via the Android reader application that I see available? And...any glitches with that?
March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlan B
Just download the Kindle app to the Nexus 7, sign in, and your content will be available for download. It's that easy.
March 22, 2013 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW
Thanks for the confirmation Frank. I do like my iPad, but a second, smaller, much lower cost tablet remains a real consideration for travel. I do need to review what apps I really use on the iPad, that I can't get on the Nexus, and how critical they would be. The apparent availability of Zagat on the Nexus then is a countervailing factor, as is my iPhone, which jointly supports most apps, including birding guides and the like. There are several apps I preferentially use on the iPhone, such as my scientific calculator, Calendar and music. Really, the tablet I prefer just for E-mail, extended READING, and the occasional video.
March 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlan B
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 seems very similar to the Google Nexus 7. Ny Costco has these including a cover for $170. Might anyone be able to compare and contrast these two 7-inch tablets?
March 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlan B

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