Why I don’t want a Nexus 7

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The Nexus 7 is all the rage these days, and with good reason. It’s a great product, being sold at a great price, and with Google’s official backing. Despite all that, I don’t think I could possible care less about the thing. Here’s why.

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To start things off, the whole notion of stock Android seems a bit ridiculous to me when it comes to the Nexus 7. Yes, it’s Google’s version of Android, and it even has the latest and greatest update to Android, but it isn’t exactly what I would classify as Android without manufacturer modifications. Samsung might have added a few apps and tweaked the design of my trusty old Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus a bit, and in many cases not for the better, but at the very least it shipped with tablet software. The Nexus 7? It uses some sort of a mix between the phone version and the tablet version of Android. I’ve argued that it makes sense to some extent before, and I still think it does as far as the Nexus 7 being a consumer product goes, but calling it stock Android doesn’t seem to quite cover it. More importantly, this choice that Google made doesn’t appeal to me personally.

Of course software is always replaceable, but hardware isn’t. On the surface, the Nexus 7 would appear as being superior to my Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus in every way, as two of the most prominent features – the screen resolution and chip that powers it – certainly are a generation ahead on the Nexus 7. However, whereas screen resolution and speed are “only” improvements, the Nexus 7 physically lacks a scary amount of features that I use quite often. Perhaps the most obvious is the lack of a card slot on the Nexus 7, which can be justified all the way to Alpha Centauri. Streaming services, cloud storage, USB host – I know they exist, and I use them myself, but I still need more than 16GB of storage on all my devices. Clean and simple. When you can get two 32GB microSDHC cards for the price difference between the 8GB and 16GB Nexus 7, I dare also suggest that Google and ASUS had some rather Apple-esque reasons for dropping the card slot. Either way, no card slot, no dice.

The Nexus 7 also lacks several other features that I pretty much demand in a 7-inch tablet. While the rear camera on my 7.0 Plus isn’t exactly suitable for Hollywood productions, one of the reasons why I need a card slot is that I use it a lot- just as I use my phone’s camera a lot. I know that people often don’t find cameras on tablets that useful, but when it’s a semi-decent camera on such a small tablet, that’s not an opinion I share. Even the LED that is there for the sake of the camera gets its share of use as a flashlight.

Then there’s HDMI. Aaron recently got disappointed at the lack of HDMI connectivity on the Nexus 7’s pogo pin dock, and I can’t say I blame him. HDMI output on a tablet is great, and yes, I use it. I do want to point slightly in the direction of the Nexus Q and then back up at my previous point about ulterior motives for some design choices.

Finally, the price. A price tag of $199 is the real reason why people are so interested in this device, but I’m not impressed. At the $199 price point, it doesn’t have many competitors, but at the $249 price point that the 16GB model sells for, it does. One of those competitors is the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, which is essentially a budget version of the now-discontinued Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus that I’ve been comparing the Nexus 7 to in this article. You lose a bit of performance and the camera LED compared to the 7.0 Plus, but generally they’re the same. That means that the screen resolution and performance is better on the Nexus 7, while you get more actual features on the Tab. An 8GB Nexus 7 will cost you $200, a 16GB model $250. An 8GB Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 will cost you $249, a 40GB model (8GB + microSD card) about $275.

I’m by no means trying to talk anyone out of buying – or liking – the Nexus 7 here; I’m just telling you why the device doesn’t interest me. I can completely understand why a good screen and good performance are all anyone needs in a cheap tablet, especially in this streaming-centric day and age. Personally, however, I’d rather live with a lower screen resolution and some hiccups in the menus if it means that I get a tablet that arguably has more features.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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14 thoughts on “Why I don’t want a Nexus 7

  • Avatar of Aaron Orquia
    August 1, 2012 at 10:09 am
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    I actually quite like the software, although there are certainly things that could have been done better. Of course, I’ll probably end up with a custom ROM anyways, so it doesn’t matter too much. The SD card slot has to be my biggest complaint at the moment, ~5GB of usable space isn’t enough for a media consumption device, especially since I’m not always connected to the internet. I didn’t think the camera would bother me, but today I was in a video call and wanted to show a project I was working on, but couldn’t because the N7 has no camera. I don’t use it often, but a rear camera doesn’t hurt. HDMI would be great, because then I could use the N7 as a set top box, and probably manage to get the Gnex working as a remote. But as you said, they do have a conflict of interests with the Q.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Frank
    August 1, 2012 at 10:12 am
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    The lack of expandable storage isn’t a deal breaker if you’re not afraid of rooting it imo, once rooted you can mount any USB thumbdrive (or card reader) with a $2 USG OTG cable and Stickmount. I don’t think those things were sacrificed purely to reach the $200 price point (the camera/lack of vide output probably, the storage is part of their Nexus design philosophy at this point), but the resolution is a huge factor for me… We need more up-to-date competitors imo even if it’s at $300. I’d love a $300-350 8.9″ version w/some added features like these.

    Reply
  • Avatar of John Freml
    August 1, 2012 at 10:39 am
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    This is Google’s answer to the Kindle Fire and Nook Color, not Google’s answer to the Galaxy Tab. It’s also designed primarily as a content consumption device, not content creation – and the big push currently with content is the cloud and streaming. With this in mind, this is a great alternative to what Amazon and B&N are pushing.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Paul T
    August 1, 2012 at 10:46 am
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    Right on the money Andreas. Exactly the reason why I’m sticking with my Acer A100 for the time being. Not that I wouldn’t love to get a taste of Jelly Bean, but the lack of SD card and HDMI out ARE deal breakers.
    I just love how many are touting this as a “gaming tablet” and yet it lacks the basic functionality of outputting to a bigger screen. On-screen controls suck, quite frankly, and once youplaying on a big screen with a sixaxis is quite nice.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Nic Gili
    August 1, 2012 at 7:43 pm
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    No SD slot is a huge deal breaker for me too, I can barley put my music on 16gb, yet alone any videos.
    and I dont want a usb drive sticking out of my tablet either.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Mark C
    August 1, 2012 at 7:52 pm
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    I have a Xoom with LTE and still bought the Nexus 7. I consider this a different type of device, and it is much better to hold than a 10 inch tablet. The OS is easily changed to tablet format with a mod that is out, and the USB thumb drive mod works well also. This is my favorite device and it is crazy fast also. Love watching movies and trailers on it because of the screen. Someone who is into tech with many other devices usually wouldn’t hesitate to throw down a couple Ben’s on this!

    Reply
  • Avatar of Guthrien
    August 2, 2012 at 2:56 am
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    While I understand where you’re coming from with your needs, the Nexus just runs so unbelievably nicer than the Galaxy Tabs it’s unbelievable. That plus the price point makes it a no brainer for most consumers over any other 7″ tab.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Mannc7
    August 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm
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    Hi Andreas, based upon other’s reviews, I would recommend you try to get a loaner nexus, use it for a week, then come back and write an update to this article. While the article was fun to read, I wonder what your opinion will be after actually using it.

    Also, I advocate that people opt for the upcoming note over any tablet.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård
      August 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm
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      I already have a tablet of the same physical specs. The Nexus 7 has a higher resolution screen, and a faster chip, but that’s it. As a trade off, it lacks several features I rely on every day. I can use it for a week, a month, a year, or not at all, and that fact is still going to be there. If you need a wrench, a screwdriver isn’t going to work just because it’s a nice screwdriver

      Reply
  • Avatar of quadtronix
    August 15, 2012 at 9:58 am
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    I have a SGT 7.0 plus and I used the Nexus 7 today for the first time at my local Staples. I was not that impressed with the Nexus. You can’t even use it in landscape on the home screens like on all other tablets pretty much… and no micro SD = no sale! That’s just my opinion. The quadcore SOC and higher rez screen are nice though… but I would not trade my Tab 7 for that! Good article by the way…. nice to hear not everyone is going nexus crazy! Lol…

    Reply
  • Avatar of Lynn
    November 1, 2012 at 8:44 pm
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    I really agree with you here. I think android products have been moving backward recently in terms of what they can actually do. It seems like there were more futuristic devices a 2 years ago than there are now.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Esimed
    November 20, 2012 at 10:14 am
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    Out of curiosity, what do you other commenters use all that storage space for on SD cards? Is it music, videos, apps? I ask because while I accept and appreciate everyone’s opinion that lack of SD card is a deal breaker, I’d like to also understand it and at this point my own use history of devices doesn’t allow me to understand it. I do purchase SD cards to fill the slots on all my devices, but I never even use them and for me it’s just a wasted feature. Better safe than sorry, be prepared for an eventual need is really the only reasons I have them, but they aren’t being used and I don’t even fill up the internal memory either. Have I just embraced the streaming age or is there something I’m not factoring in?

    Reply

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