I want to start off by saying one thing. I FUCKING LOVE THIS THING.
This is probably the one hardware device that Google has produced that is worth buying. At $200, it honestly kills the Kindle Fire or any other Android based tablet. The Prime being its closest contender and may actually be equal to this. (I don't own one or have even touched one so I can't say. But that's what people have been telling me.) But I'll say this. All other Android based tablet will not be able to beat this purely because nothing else runs 4.1.1 (Jellybean) yet. Jellybean is what really makes this thing shine.
As for comparing it against the iPad. I (in my own opinion) think the ipad is worthless next to this. The screen on the iPad may be slightly better. But really at $200 bucks, you can't say the screen is worth 200 more. Again, if you own all Apple products, there really no reason you should buy anything other than an iPad. Unless, you also use a lot of Google software like... Gmail, Google Calendar, Google search, Google... well pretty much anything. This device starts the process of Google's ecosystem. I know a lot of people don't like ecosystems... but the great thing here is that this ecosystem is open. If you don't want it, you can always change it to something you do want. I can't do that with most of Apple's products. Not without heavy OS modifications.
So with that out of the way, (You know you wanted to see how it stacks up to the iPad) the review of the device itself.
GeneralIt's thin. Half the thickness of the Kindle Fire, thin. It's smooth. If you went from an iPad to this, you'll feel no lag with the touch interface. It's beautiful. Colors pop and text is sharp.
The keyboard is perfectly spaced in portrait mode so it's not all scrunched up like when you type on a phone but not overly spaced out like an iPad. You know what that's like. That set of buttons right in the middle of the screen where it's just a little bit too far for either thumb.
WidgetsWhat's really good about Jellybean is the fact that Widgets Are King. Older devices relied heavily on using multiple home screen with many folders that you can divide and organize your apps into. This is ridiculous in my opinion because then you'll have to go searching for those apps and you're adding extra clicks to your workflow. Also, not every app falls into a clean categories making looking for apps even more painful if you have them all in folders. So the fix? Jellybean allows you to add up to 6 folders in your launch bar. So you're never more than 2 clicks anyway from any app. I wish they allowed you to add folders within folders but I'm happy with what I have.
So apps all over your screen? Bad.
Apps in folders all over your screen? Even worse.
Full screen Widgets. AWESOME.
Jellybean (and older versions) allows you to run widgets. But the older versions never really quite had widgets perfect. They were set sizes and seemed like more of an afterthought.
Widget may seem like a gimmicky idea but they can be so much more than that. Widgets allow you to see into your app without actually having to open it. This is key because a number at the corner of your app can mean so many things but can also mean exactly nothing at all. You have 3 new emails? But from who? Are they important? Are they worth reading or can you put that off till later? A widget will tell you exactly how many new emails you have, who they are from, and even allows you to respond to those emails. All without having to even open the app!
So let's take a look at this again: Apps in folders, folders in launch bar, widgets on your screens. But wait there's more. Jellybean allows you to resize widgets. Yes, you read that right.
This alone makes Jellybean worth getting. Let me first state that only some widgets can scale in size. Those that aren't up to date with Jellybean, stick to their default sizes and can't be changed. But once all the apps start moving over, your tablet should have (again in my opinion) a home screen with a picture of your wife or family, maybe a small settings bar with some quick buttons to turn on wifi and such and a launch bar at the bottom where all your apps should be. Now you have a fully realized tablet. Each page can be dedicated to one or many widgets all feeding you real time data and not just a wall of apps.
Notification BarThe notification bar was also redone and I love it. The biggest thing at the I/O talk was the ability to remove notifications one at a time. That is awesome. The notification bar can also expand certain notifications so you get more information than the standard one width worth. This is key for many apps like the Gmail app since you can read most of the email without even having to open the app. That is also awesome.
Another nice thing. It shows the wifi network you're connected to at the bottom of the notification popup as well. You can also delete all your notifications from one button as before, go straight to your settings, and unlock/lock your rotation setting. Of course your standard time/date info is there as well.
Google Play Store
Again full screen widgets are awesome.The Google Play Store has been majorly overhauled and now contains pretty much everything. Apps, Games, Books, Movies, Television, and Music, it really has it all. I won't go too much into it here because I haven't used the store too much. I plan to later though.
Chrome Web BrowserFinally a FULL WEB BROWSER! With TABS!
No more of this open another window shit. You have tabs that you can actually see while you look at other sites. There's even an option to open tabs from other devices. (I never got this to work.) It looks just like a regular chrome browsers and acts exactly like it as well. The only thing I wish it supported, is extensions. But I can see why that would be a pain.
Misc.So I'll round out this review by going over the last bits and pieces that didn't fit into the things above.
- Screen shots: Press the power button and the volume down to grab a screen shot.
- Google Now: Google's version of Siri albeit toned down but at least it does what says it can do.
- Nexus 7 Manual: It's 100 pages long. But worth the read if you have time.
- Accounts: You can have multiple accounts on this tablet so you can share with family! Take that iPad.
- Apps: There were a few apps that I couldn't load (namely amazon's app). I guess it wasn't made a high enough SDK.
- OS versions: Google has promised that from this version on, Google will handle OS updates and not the manufacturers. This is good news for cell phones.
- Google Search Bar: Located at the top of every page but it really doesn't take up that much real estate. I hardly notice it.
- Battery Life: Advertised at about 8 hours. Seems right. I've been taxing it a lot and it holds up fine. (I've charged it daily but it's never down to zero)
- Tegra 3: Quad Core and badass all around. A friend of mine, Tony, and I tried to find games that would tax the processor and everything ran fine. No hick ups or crashes.
- Soft buttons! Awesomeness. They move when the screen is re-oriented and disappear (turn into small dots) when a movie plays.
- You can encrypt the entire device!