Friday, August 9, 2013

Nexus 7 2013 Review

by Bill Holmes

A quick review after a couple of days with the new Nexus 7 2013. This is not a detail review of the specifications or scientific study of the performance. Just my impressions of the new tablet.

I bought the original Nexus 7 2012 version when they first came out last summer. It was my first tablet. I have used it extensively almost every day for the past year. I used it to read all the news, comics, blogs, RSS feeds and social media sites that I previously kept up with on my PC. It was much easier than sitting at a desk or balancing a hot laptop on my lap or squinting at a small phone screen. I could sit in a recliner and read all the stuff I wanted to on my Nexus. Even short videos were OK to watch on the 7" screen.

When the new model was announced I decided to upgrade and give the old one to one of my sons. He is an iPhone user so I'm hoping he sees the benefits of Android and the choices in that community.

So, on with the review -

The new processor is noticeably faster. Everything is faster and smoother. It also seems to run a little cooler. No stop-watches or thermometers were used to verify this.

The new N7 is lighter and thinner. It's not a huge difference but it is noticeable. When I opened the new one and compared the weight with the old I thought, not a big deal. Then after holding it for an hour or so while reading stuff I realized it is a big deal. The lighter, thinner difference is a welcome improvement.

The speakers are better but the sound quality is still pretty bad. It's OK for a news or instructional video but for music, TV or movies use earphones. Better yet, Chromecast to a TV.

The notification LED is nice but not a big deal for me.

The rear camera is a very appreciated new feature. I know, holding up a 7" tablet to take a picture is a little awkward but sometimes that's what is handy. As is always said, "the best camera is the one you have with you".

I am getting significantly better battery life even though the new N7 has a higher def screen, faster processor and more memory. Not definitive yet but it's looking like almost twice as much. Some may be due to Android 4.3. I only updated my old N7 to 4.3 a few day before the new one came and obviously I haven't used it much since the new one came. So, maybe the old N7 is doing better. I'm very happy with the battery life on the new N7.

Again not scientific but it appears the WiFi radio is better. The other night at a softball game I was able to connect to a Lowe's public WiFi. I've been at that softball complex many times with my old N7 and never even detected the Lowe's WiFi. The connection was a little shaky but it did work. The Lowe's I connected to was across a couple of softball fields, a couple of soccer fields, a five lane highway and the huge Lowe's parking lot that has two restaurants between it and the sports fields. I also detected a school WiFi that is even a little farther away. I didn't connect to that, it's secured. So, either the N7 WiFi radio is better or Lowe's has a really powerful transmitter.

I was not particularly pleased with UPS and their delivery. It was a knock and drop. I was home but by the time I got to the door the delivery person was gone and the N7 package was at my door. I live in an apartment complex and I'm not thrilled with a $250 purchase being left at my door. Several people walk by every day, there are landscape and other workers around. It was delivered at 10:00 AM. If I was still a working guy, it would have sat outside (in 100° heat) for eight or more hours. The complex office is less than 50 yards from my unit. They gladly accept packages for tenants and keep them in an air conditioned room.

The transition to the new N7 was relatively painless. After a couple of Android updates you sign in to your Google account and your apps start downloading. That can take a while depending on the number of apps installed. I have around 100. You may need to enter user IDs and passwords the first time you open an app. You may also need to go into the settings on some and reenter your preferences.

The transition process gave me even more appreciation for the Google infrastructure. Most of the Google stuff works just like before on other devices. I also appreciate those apps that have a cross-platform sign in or are cloud based. They work just like before once you sign in. Those apps that don't have a user ID require some configuration effort. I had to reenter stuff on some weather sites and re-select all my favorite comics in my comics app. There were a couple of others too, but certainly not a big deal.

There are a couple of apps that don't seem to play well with the new N7 &/or Android 4.3. Nothing important. The ones I've encountered seem to have to do with the new screen resolution.

So, bottom line I'm glad I got the new Nexus 7. The old one is still a great device and I hope the offspring enjoys it. The new one is a significant upgrade. If you want/need a 7" tablet, get a Nexus 7. If you have a 2012 version, consider upgrading. If you want to save a few bucks, find a 2012 model. They're both very good devices.


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