I’m going to start with a disclaimer. I am well aware that the purpose of all technology writing, especially this column, is to present the world of devices without any bias, prejudice, discrimination and personal likings colouring the final outcome. That is not something I can achieve today! Today’s column will be subject to extreme bias due to a whole lot of my own fondness, attachment and affection for all things buttery. If you’re confused – then all you need to do is to say my last name out loud and make the connection. I love things that are buttery smooth, luxuriously creamy and lustrously rich – and when a Tablet brings in a whole OS enhancement called ‘Project Butter’, they’ve pretty much got me from the word go! I have been told unofficially that Google named this entire feature set Project Butter just to get a good review from me. Google, you just succeeded.
The Nexus 7 is the ‘blow all other tablets out of the water’ Tablet from Google. It’s priced at $199, feels luxurious and rich in appearance (polished plastic, high grade aluminium trimmings and sides, Corning glass screen, weighs only 340 grams), has the much awaited Android Jelly Bean 4.1 OS and also has the aforementioned Project Butter on it. This is an all-out effort to make the Android user experience buttery smooth, no lags and jitter, effortless app switching, blazing fast frame rates and fluid animations along with silky touch responsiveness. This is the ‘makhanisation’ of Tablets.
Google’s business model is fairly simple. Almost anything and everything is geared around getting people to come online and use Google products. From searches to maps to news to Google +, they’ve done a brilliant job with Android on phones, but haven’t managed that with Android on Tablets. A recent study found that while Apple has 60 per cent of the Tablet market, it gets 95 per cent of all Tablet traffic hits online. The Google Nexus 7 is a weapon primarily designed to change that jaw-dropping statistic.
Things to Like
A lot actually. It has a blazing fast 1.3GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM (that’s pretty much the same as what you get on the most high-end Android Tablets that can cost three times as much), a fantastic 7-inch IPS LCD screen with a resolution of 1280 x 800 (with a 216 PPI density), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC (near field communication) and a battery life of around 10 hours. Games look amazing, movies play well and all other media truly shines. Then there’s the insides. First up is Google Now – literally touted as Google with artificial intelligence.
The system will learn things as you use it and add it to the Google knowledge graph it builds around you. The notification panel now displays an incredible amount of new information and also brings in more interaction, plus the number of customisable icons at the bottom of the homescreen has now been bumped up to seven. The Nexus 7 also comes with Google Chrome as the default browser plus some fantastic new Google built-in apps. Play Magazines is a more intuitive way to read digital versions of magazines, the YouTube app is now more intelligent and channel-centric and the new Compass mode in Google Maps is the way all mapping should be on a portable device. Then the big one: voice dictation and commands now work offline and are even more accurate. It should be in India by September and priced at around Rs 11,000 or so.
Things Not to Like
Not too much in this section. Primarily, the big negative is that it comes with only 8 or 16GB internal storage with no apparent way of adding to it or using external cards or drives. Yes, this does hit the ‘butteriness’ of the device for sure. With the amount of music, pictures, movies and downloads we all have – there should have been a 64GB version for an extra $150. Then the fact that this is a Wi-Fi only device and cannot use a 3G or 4G connection. This isn’t such a big deal as most people will be fairly happy to use this in a Wi-Fi environment or use a phone with a 3G Personal Hotspot connected to this when on the move.
One more thing
Apple’s dominance in the Tablet market is making big companies do strange things. If both Google and Microsoft have decided that the only way to take on the Apple juggernaut is to get into hardware, then the Google Nexus 7 is a fantastic first missile to launch this hardware war off with. This is a small, almost pocketable, very light, blazing fast, well-built, incredibly well-priced offering from a company that wants your business. Yes, there are Tablets that may still have some features and advantages over the Nexus 7 – but is that advantage worth the almost triple price point? That’s a head scratcher for you to figure out. By the way, did I mention it has a very buttery smooth user experience?
From HT Brunch, July 8
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