Nexus 7

I got the 32 GB Nexus 7 today from J&R Electronics. I had been tracking the package online and I knew it would show up this morning with the mail. It came in a bigger box than I thought, but the box inside was smaller, about the size of a big paperback book. Good unpacking experience with a black cardboard box inside a sleeve with bright colors on a charcoal background. Not many pack-ins: just a small AC adapter and a micro-USB cord which is used with the AC adapter or to connect to a computer. It came with about a 50% charge and they recommended charging it right away. Very small instruction book and warranty info included as well.

Nexus 7 Box

I found a web page with 23 “essential tweaks” for the Nexus 7 and did a few of them including unlock the automatic screen rotation, set a special swipe gesture to unlock the device when it is turned on, signed up for Google Plus, downloaded the entire Google Map of metro Atlanta (62 MB), set up owner information in case I misplace it and someone wants to return it to me (also stuck a label on the back with my name and phone number), and turned off the keyboard sounds.

The whole point of the device is to point you in the direction of the Google Play store so that you buy apps, books, music, and videos, so the desktop comes with a lot of junk. It includes a few free songs, including one by M. Ward who I generally like. Unfortunately at the end of September Google stopped giving away a free $25 Play credit for setting up an account.

Removing the sleeve reveals a simple black box

Removing the sleeve reveals a simple black box

I put a few albums on there which I thought would be hard, but was quite easy. I just hooked it up to my computer and dragged folders of music into the Music folder of the Nexus 7. I had some videos I made for the iPod and dragged one of those over too and it played fine and actually looked pretty good even though the resolution of 480×320 isn’t anywhere close to the 1280×800 screen resolution. The screen looks very good, a retina display, but one problem that the iPod has as well is how to render web pages. They come in too tiny in general, but if you expand them with pinch-zoom you have to scroll around to see the whole page. It’s not near as bad as on the iPod due to the larger screen size at least. And some pages do better than others.

Opening the black box reveals the Nexus 7 in clear plastic printed with the location of the power and volume buttons at the upper right.

Opening the black box reveals the Nexus 7 in clear plastic printed with the location of the power and volume buttons at the upper right.

I visited a few web pages. I think by default some web sites will use a mobile device rendering of the page, which is bad for My Yahoo and the blog, but good for the Flashlight Wiki.

I downloaded a couple of free apps. The first one was an offline browser that works perfectly for the Flashlight Wiki and my movie review archive. It has settings that keep it from pulling off-site content or links (good) and seems to render pages perfectly. And it is super fast. This is much better than the offline browser I found for the iPod.

Taking the Nexus 7 out reveals another box underneath with a hole so you can pull it up with your finger. This box contains the AC adapter, micro USB cord, a quick start guide, and the warranty.

Taking the Nexus 7 out reveals another box underneath with a hole so you can pull it up with your finger. This box contains the AC adapter, micro USB cord, a quick start guide, and the warranty.

Another app I got was a euchre game, but the graphics aren’t good at all and the cards are really tiny, perhaps because it was designed for a smaller phone screen, part of the problem with Android apps.

GMail is its own app and looks great. Typing isn’t as hard as on the iPod since the on-screen keyboard is bigger, but it is still slower than real typing.

Everything that comes in the box.

I would like to have a good Notes app. It took me a while to find NoteMaster for the iPod, but I’ve been really happy with it and it syncs to Google Docs, now Google Drive. So that should work well with a Google device, but Google Drive for the Nexus 7 is as cumbersome as the web version and I’m not sure it is storing docs on the Nexus and synching them. NoteMaster isn’t available for the Nexus 7. EverNote seems to be the favorite note app and now it is free if you aren’t a heavy user. I could export all the notes to EverNote and use EverNote apps on both the iPod and Nexus. Then they would all sync with each other. I might try that out before I switch over.

The back of the Nexus 7 is textured black rubber for a good grip. This was listed as being brown, but it looks black to me.

The back of the Nexus 7 is textured black rubber for a good grip. This was listed as being brown, but it looks black to me.

There is a lot of stuff I don’t know and will need to discover as I go. There is a pretty substantial guide book included in my library of books, so maybe I can pick up a few things from that.

I like it so far. The website iFixit took apart one of these when they came out in July and gave it a 7 out of 10 for ease of repairs (the iPad got a 2; the Kindle got an 8 because its screen isn’t one sealed unit and screen cracks are a common repair, so the Nexus 7 will be more expensive for screen repairs). They pointed out that the internal battery could be replaced using only a plastic spudger to release the internal clips that hold the back and front of the Nexus 7 together and then the battery would just unplug. Because there are a lot of Android devices out there, there are a lot of apps, but not all of the apps work well for a tablet like this. So it feels more like an open platform than something like an Apple product. I’m fine with that though.

I’ll just keep adding stuff as time goes by:

I found an offline Wikipedia app. It is free (this company doesn’t even seem to offer a pay version) and the download is 3.58 GB. It contains the top 2 million articles (out of 4 million) on Wikipedia, which is probably enough. But the download was crawling along. The iPod equivalent, Wiki Offline, takes about 10 hours to download (and claims to have all the articles, but also costs $10 and $1 each time you download a new database of articles). After two hours I wasn’t even to 1% yet. I looked up slow downloads from the Play store and tried shutting down the Nexus and restarting it. That seemed to help a lot, but the speed was still erratic. After letting it download for 10 hours, it was at about 50%. It would be good if I could download the database independently on my computer, but it is all going in wirelessly to the Nexus. Meanwhile I can’t really use the Nexus or the internet, but I think this could be a great way to read Wikipedia. After over 24 hours, it finished, then I got some error that said it couldn’t be installed! But it installed anyway and it works. But the Search isn’t that great. It does okay for the first word, if it is unique, but the second word just adds more results for each word, not both words together. It’s free though, and a little out of date. No mention of the iPad 3 or Retina Display.

BBC News is a good news app that actually caches the news for offline use. Seems to be the best one for that so far. Time Magazine sent me email saying that as a subscriber I could download the complete issue to my tablet computer. So registered with NextIssue and correctly got the free version of Time, tried to download to the Nexus and couldn’t: although it works on some Android devices, it doesn’t work on the Nexus 7. Apparently it is very picky about screen resolution. However, I tried again a few weeks later and now Time supports 1280×800 resolution. Takes a while to download an entire issue, but it should be available offline and looks great. This could be great for the train. Angry Birds looks great on this size screen and was free, so was the Star Wars edition which is really phenomenal. Downloaded the Kindle app because it lets me change the page color instead of just black or white with the Google reader. Droid48 is a nice HP-48 emulator, which is nice, but even though it says it can save the memory on exit, it doesn’t. But you can do it manually. On the iPod I’ve had to manually key in some programs, but I’ve never lost the memory.

5 thoughts on “Nexus 7

  1. That link seems to be for domains. But I’ll see if there is a way to get my Google Drive stuff offline. Evernote doesn’t cache all of the notes locally unless you pay for the premium version, so it is out of contention.

  2. With my Android I found I can say things like “Capital” and “Period” and it seems to know what to do. I have not read the instructions. I really only use this feature to send longer text messages while driving, and I don’t care about punctuation…. “heading home but will pick up bananas”

  3. A friend at work was asking about how well the display shows photographs, so I thought I would load up some photos. I resized a bunch of photos to 1280×800 and put them in the Pictures folder of the Nexus. Using the built-in Gallery app, I was able to see them and do a slideshow, but the slideshow had a cheesy Ken Burns effect thing going on instead of just showing one picture at full screen after another. Worse, I couldn’t use the full screen because the operating system keeps a Navigation Bar at the bottom of the screen so you can get home or switch apps. You can’t get rid of this thing! So really the screen is more like 1280×700. When I watch a movie, the Navigation Bar goes away, so I know it can be gotten rid of, but I don’t know of any photo apps that will make it go away, despite trying a couple of them.

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