I’ve been using the Nexus 7 for a couple of weeks so I want to share some thoughts on how its been going. Over all, I continue to really like the tablet. My only nag on the hardware is the layout of the volume rocker and sleep/wake button. They are placed so close together I often find myself putting the device to sleep when I want to change the volume. Read on for my other thoughts.
I’ve been using the Nexus almost exclusively for media consumption the last couple of weeks and its been great. One of the issues I have with my iPad is the need to go through iTunes to add media to the device. On the Nexus the file system adding media can be done several ways.
First, the Android File Transfer App allows the Nexus to be connected to a Mac via USB. Adding files is a matter of dragging and dropping. Second, the open filesystem on Android allows me to save any file on dropbox to the device. iOS places limits on what can or cannot be easily added to an “iDevice.” Third, using a USB to go cable allows the Nexus to act as a USB host. This allows thumb drives, and even some portable hard drives, to be connected directly to the device. The camera connection kit ads similar functionality to iOS devices, but the closed filesystem limits what types of files can be added.
The ease of adding media to the Nexus makes it an ideal consumption device.
Android does have good games, and I’ve been enjoying some for about a week. The ability to connect a game controller only adds to the experience. Even with on-screen controls games are responsive and animations are smooth. It would be even better if I could mirror the Nexus screen to a TV.
When I first got the Nexus I was disappointed at the productivity tools for Android. My preferred work flow is to write in markdown and have my work automatically synced to a dropbox folder. When I first got on the Google Play store the crop of markdown editors was rather slim. Most didn’t recognize the .md extension common to markdown files, had limited dropbox support, and couldn’t export HTML from the app.
I finally found a passable editor called Write. The dropbox support is clunky, files have to be imported from the dropbox app and then shared back, but it exports clean HTML and has a persistent word count.
The mobile office suites on Android are a mixed bag. I’m a Documents to Go user on iOS, but the Android version was so awful I asked for a refund. Quick Office has better file management setup, but the editor only has a page layout view. On the 7 inch Nexus screen, this makes text look far too small to be a comfortable editing environment. On spreadsheets this isn’t as much of a issue, but the word processor is really difficult to use. Quick Office also, for some inexplicable reason, doesn’t have a way to select all text. This boggles my mind.
Of all the suites I’ve used on Android so far, SoftMaker is the most powerful, but it’s Google Drive integration is currently broken. In all, I hope SoftMaker fixes it’s GoogleDrive integration – it’s a solid app.
In another productivity realm, I’m still looking for an app comparable to Notability or Notes + on Android. Nothing I’ve found even comes close. Papyrus is capable, but it’s not as easy to use add its iOS cousins.
For productivity, I continue to see the open filesystem as a mixed blessing. While I appreciate the ease through which I can add media to my Nexus, I have to say I like the sand boxing of iOS better for productivity work. Cloud integration on iOS “just works” – in Android every app tends to use the cloud differently and the integration is usually only partially implemented.
The Nexus made a good first impression and continues to grow on me. The immaturity of the productivity apps show when I’m trying to get work done, but the ecosystem shows signs of maturing. I still like 4:3 better for a productivity device, but the Nexus could be the sign off things to come.