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I’m Not Getting a Nexus 7 – Here’s Why

Google's new Android tablet is a hot topic on many tech blogs right now. Virtually everyone has posted a review, the breakdown photos, nitpicks, or that funny montage of unboxing videos. I've heard from a number of people that they were looking forward to my tablet arriving because they wanted to read what I thought. Well, I've decided against getting one. The box was due to arrive with my delayed mail today but I'm just going to send it back.

I too have been reading the reviews, and after thinking about them I eventually concluded that this tablet doesn't do anything I want. It falls into a product niche that has both too much and not enough hardware to suit me. I know that makes little sense, so let me explain.

As I see it, there are 3 types of Android tablet on the market: budget, premium, and basic.

The Nexus 7 is what I am calling a basic tablet. Like the Kindle Fire (which I think defined the product niche), the Nexus 7 rises above the sub-$100 budget tablets thanks to a multi-core CPU, good screen, and generally decent hardware. It in fact sets a new standard for a basic tablet (as opposed to bargain and premium) but it merely joins the niche, it doesn't redefine it.

BTW, another tablet in the basic niche is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. The Tab 2 came out a few months back with a price of $250 and a general goal of competing with the Kindle Fire. It's not a terribly good tablet but at the time it was good enough to compete with the Kindle Fire.

The thing is, I don't want or need a basic tablet. I want a budget or a premium tablet; the ones in between don't have the features I need.

In particular, the Nexus 7 is missing the second camera on the back.  I used a similar camera on my Samsung Galaxy Tab to take photos while on the show floor at CES 2012, and what ever tablet I got to replace the Galaxy tab would also need a camera.

Without that second camera the Nexus 7 isn't any more useful to me than the Kindle Fire, and I already have one of those.

And yes, I don't really see a need to upgrade from the Kindle Fire. The extra CPU cores, camera, and Google Play don't interest me all that much at the moment.  Okay, the Nexus 7 is indeed droolworthy, but it's not worth it for me to put down $200.

And I'm not alone. This morning I got an offer to take a Nexus 7 off someone's hands. He decided he'd much rather save the funds for other gadget purchases. It's a nice tablet, but it doesn't quite live up to the hype.

P.S. I might end up buying a Nexus 7, but at this point I'm waiting to see what the Kindle Fire 2 looks like. Chances are it will be another $200 tablet with specs better than the Nexus 7.

About Nate Hoffelder (10905 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

59 Comments on I’m Not Getting a Nexus 7 – Here’s Why

  1. Kindle Fire 2 is bound to have a CPU speedbump because that’s how tech rolls. But I don’t think you’re likelier to get a back camera on it.

  2. How many tablets does one person need? Has that question been addressed sufficiently?

  3. So if this is true: “The thing is, I don’t want or need a basic tablet. I want a budget or a premium tablet; the ones in between don’t have the features I need.”

    Why did you order one in the first place?

  4. Oh and one more thing. The Galaxy Tab 10 incher I believe came out with an adapater that connects to the propietary port allows the user to connect usb and possibly HDMI. To me that was smart, assuming it allowed them to manufacture a sleeker, lighter tablet. That adapter was I believe NOT compatible with the 7 incher.

    Anyway, I would get the Samsung Galaxy 7 incher if it came out with an adapter. too bad…………..

  5. Because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t figured out what the tablet was until after I read the early reviews.

  6. But… but… Digital Emperor Mossberg proclaimed that the Nexus 7 was the only tablet that stands a chance as an alternative to Apple’s iPad! How could you possibly go against the perennial wisdom of The Great Walt???

    No back-facing camera isn’t a big deal, but the lack of an SD slot is the deal breaker for me. I’m going to hold off on a new tablet purchase until I see the pricing and reviews on an MS Surface.

  7. I’m agreeing with you Nate, and really its about the ecosystem for me. I’m tied up in Apple and Amazon, I don’t have room to get into Google’s.

  8. Oh my god, he really did. That’s a hoot.

  9. exactly
    if i’m going to pay more than a $100 for a tablet

    i need a good – preferably very good back camera – don’t care about a front facing at all
    and most of all – a frikkin memory card slot !

  10. I’m going to repeat what I said on Twitter here.

    First, The Nexus 7 runs Jelly Bean, and the difference between it and any other Android I’ve tried (and that’s a few) is remarkable. Jelly Bean is the first Android tablet OS that runs as smoothly as the iPad. So, if you want the best Android tablet experience by far, the Nexus 7 is for you.

    Second, it’s a Nexus, meaning that it will remain the most up-to-date Android tablet on the market. Maybe that matters to you, maybe it doesn’t–but ultimately, it should. My wife’s Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is STILL running Honeycomb, and it’s a dog. Some other tablets are just now getting Ice Cream Sandwich. I think only ASUS has even mentioned the words “Jelly Bean” and “tablet” in the same sentence, and they say an update will be coming “in the coming months.” If that’s one of your least favorite phrases, as it is mine, then again, the Nexus 7 is for you.

    This isn’t just another 7″ Android tablet, by a long shot. Oh, and it also has a superior screen (to other 7″ Android tablets), a great multicore processor, and has full access to Google Play. Text looks great, which is a plus for ebook reading, of course–some of the best I’ve seen on an Android tablet. Unless you’re hooked on Amazon video, there’s nothing that any other 7″ Android tablet can give you that the Nexus 7 can’t.

  11. That’s a good argument to get a Jelly Bean tablet, but it’s not necessarily a good argument to get this one.

    And besides, I have an Asus Transformer. I can wait for that to be updated to jelly Bean.

  12. But it’s not about you. Either post a review or shut up.

  13. It’s not just the Fire 2 that needs to be heard from; B&N and Kobo, the iPad mini, and the other Jelly Bean entries from Samsung and the other Android players, big and small.
    Buying a Nexus 7 *now* is like going to one of those silly speed-dating events and getting engaged to the first person to show up. 😉
    If Jelly Bean is that good on what Nate calls a “basic” tablet, how good might it be on a premium model?
    Unless you’re really desperate to get a 7in android tablet right now, why not play the field and see who else shows up?

  14. why not play the field and see who else shows up?

    I said the same thing to you when you bought the Pocketbook 701.

  15. A tablet can be likened to a single window on a desktop screen. While you often have one window maximized, much of the time you have multiple windows open. For example, on my treadmill desk at home I have a “budget” 10″ tablet (Viewsonic G-Tab running ICS) to read books and manga, a 7″ Nook Color (running CM9) to control my desktop MP3 player and keep track of timing and my Android Phone to handle notifications.

    The advantage of this arrangement is that there is no task flipping involved. I can immediately skip a song or remotely handle a captcha via JCaptcha.

    What gets very interesting is when multiple tablets are the norm and apps function across multiple tablets and computers. For example, consider a photoshop like app which has a full screen image on a large stylus driven display/tablet (such as a Cintiq or a Samsung Note 10″) but spawns the tool, palette and layer controls to one or more tablets.

    Of course PARC was doing this back in 1990.

  16. “Something better” will come along sooner or later. but this week, the Nexus 7 IS that “something better.”

    I haven’t bought a tablet, though I want one. But the technology just seems to be reaching late adolescence. It isn’t quite mature. The Nexus 7 seems to go overboard on some features at the expense of more practical needs like expandable memory. Others seem to have the opposite problem. I can’t afford to spend my money until I can find one that has the right combination of features at the right price. The Archos 80 G9 comes closest for me, at least on paper, but the reviews are so mixed that I can’t tell if it’s reliable or not.

    Maybe next month “something better” will come along.

  17. I did say “unless you’re really desperate” didn’t I?

    At the time, I needed a toy exactly *then*.
    Since my smartphone is just that , a smart phone (not a wannabe computer) I wanted to see for myself what Android was like. An educational project and a color ebook reader. Not many cheap choices at the time.
    Things have changed since then. (Two years.)
    For starters, everybody and their uncle is doing cheap android now.

  18. I would just like to thank Amazon for the cheap race to the bottom. :)

    Can’t believe the outrageous prices Samsung charged on the first tab.

    Anyway, I like prime, movies and borrowing from amazon. Helpful with a public library still in the dark ages. I’ll wait to see what Amazon brings out next.

  19. I actually think the lack of a camera on the back is a good thing. There is nothing that hurts the coolness factor of Apple more than people running everywhere around using the Ipad as their main camera. No offense, but it just looks stupid. Thankfully that won’t happen with a Nexus 7. It’s not like people don’t carry around a phone they could use to take pictures instead anyway.

  20. I’ve been wanting that for years now. Unfortunately the only place I’ve seen it is in tech demos.

  21. After all of the reviews of crap tablets that very few people would buy… now of all times you decide to be discerning? Nate when you keep coming up with reasons to avoid reviewing actual major devices you risk becoming irrelevant. I would very much like to know what you think of the tablet… AFTER USING IT. Please just review the Nexus 7 then return it.

  22. One, lots more people buy those tablets than you think, and I’ve had several requests to post more of reviews.

    Two, I don’t like buying and returning review units. Stores don’t exist to subsidize my blog and I feel guilty each time I take something back – even though I only return broken or defective devices. And yes, everything else is either a gift, loan, or something I bought myself.

    Three, no one else reviews most of those budget tablets, so my gain from posting them is higher than if I posted a review of the Nexus 7 – a device which has been reviewed extensively elsewhere.

    Four, I’ll be honest with you. Everyone has posted a review of the Nexus 7 so I have little interest in putting the necessary work into the review in exchange for a minimal gain. That’s also why I don’t review the mainstream devices; after something has been covered extensively on a dozen major blogs I don’t care about it anymore – unless I can say something that no one else said.

    Five, I think I did manage to say something few have enunciated in their reviews. That adds to the conversation, making this a worthwhile post.

    And six, those crap tablets have taken over the ecological niche of ereaders. that alone is a good reason to continue to post the review.

  23. I am not asking you to spend $$ you don’t want to spend, and I hear your concerns about 7″ tablets, but you are leaving e-book readers without a needed perspective. Whatever your issues with 7″ tablets, people are buying millions of them, often to use as e-readers and would value your focused insight. NONE of the other reviews of the Nexus 7 I have seen have discussed the Nexus 7 as an e-reader, particularly comparing the reading experience with the Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet. The reviewers seem to think the only thing people do with these tablets is watch downloaded movies.

    I appreciate that other 7″ e-readers are on their way. However, I think the Nexus 7 probably represents a level of quality at a low price that will be hard to duplicate. Amazon and B&N subsidize their tablets from content sales, but make the reader pay a high price with their walled garden approach. Google can subsidize the Nexus 7, and strongly suggest that you wander around their garden, but you can leave that garden for other e-reader apps without having to root the device. Other hardware manufacturers don’t have the ability to subsidize hardware costs with content sales, so while their devices might be better (e.g. micro-SD slot), I don’t think they are going to be near the $200/250 prices. We will see.

    I have a rooted Nook Tablet with a 32GB microSD card, and just got a Nexus 7 (16 GB obviously). Both have the same size size screen, but on my rooted Nook Tablet, the text of an e-book fills virtually the entire screen. On my Nexus 7, the text is somewhat sharper due to the higher resolution, but the amount of text is significantly less because of the screen area devoted to the notification bar at the top and the large amount of space devoted to the navigation bars at the bottom, which dim, but do not disappear. On a screen this small, a big chunk of it is unavailable for content. My current understanding is this is a problem created by Jelly Bean, not the Nexus 7 hardware. Bummer.

    You sell Jelly Bean short. It is a vastly better interface than the Nook Tablet’s, even when rooted. A major advantage of the Nexus 7 is that one can install Kindle, Nook, and other e-reader apps very easily without the technical challenge and hassle of having to root the device. The lack of micro-SD slot is a real bummer. However, when I cooled down slightly I looked at the content on my Nook Tablet and realized that e-books and 800×600 photos (hundreds) take relatively little storage capacity. The storage hogs were mp3 music files, so I will have to be more selective about what music I have downloaded on the Nexus 7.

    My personal jury is still out on whether to keep the Nexus 7 and sell my Nook Tablet or vice versa. I like the screen colors and saturation and the ergonomics of the Nook Tablet better, but like the Jelly Bean interface much better. Still comparing them in practice.

    So Nate, even if you don’t buy a Nexus 7, borrow one from a friend and give us a review of the Nexus 7 as an e-reader.

  24. Well now I don’t feel abnormal for thinking I’d want to have more than one iPad. Unless you’re abnormal too. Hahaha.

  25. >>>No offense, but it just looks stupid.

    Who the hell cares what it looks like if it’s effective?

  26. I don’t understand why Nate needs to review a device you own yourself now. Reviews are to guide people who haven’t bought.

  27. I think you mean the “crap” tablets have taken over the ecological nice of *generic* ereaders. The flood of low end LCD ereaders has been eradicated by the comparably priced generic android tablets. And there is no question those tablets make better readers than the Literatti’s of days past.
    But the eink dedicated reader market is doing fine. Or at least Kindle is. :)

  28. True especially when CyanogenMod 10 is already generating demo alphas

  29. The back camera on a tablet is very handy for bar and QR code scanning

  30. I liken the split of premium, basic and budget to two analogies:

    Rolex, Casio and Timex: Rolexes are nice but they increasingly have become signifiers of wealth and class over functionality, Casio’s are solid and unpretentious and “More than good enough” for real life (i.e. You are not James Bond), Timexes are cheap and plastic and have minor annoyances, but are disposable and “good enough”.

    Fountain Pen, Nice Gel pen, Ball Point Pen: Again Fountain pens are very nice and pretentious but you don’t dare hand one over to anybody but a trusted friend. A good gel pen is worth spending a bit more for and has distinct advantages, and when you lose one it is a bit of a sting. Ballpoint pens are ubiquitous, you would hand it over to an acquaintance without a second thought, and if it breaks it’s a minor annoyance.

    In the long run it’s a ball point pen world. When Riker gives Picard a tablet does he wait around nervously for him to give it back?

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