Gear Review: Google Nexus 7
March 6, 2013
Frank@OBOW in Gear Reviews


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.


Article originally appeared on One-bag, carry-on, light travel tips, techniques, and gear (
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