I like the Nexus 7. I really like it.
I was out of town during Google I/O this year and missed the opportunity to see the unveiling and get my hands on the product a few weeks back. But Google was kind enough to give me a Nexus 7 demo unit last week. I’ve given the company credit for this before. For the most part, they don’t mind criticism and genuinely seem to want to build products that all consumers (whether Apple fans or not) will like. And with the Nexus 7, I think they’ve done just that.
To be clear, the product isn’t perfect. But no product is. Yes, that includes Apple products (though the MacBook Air in the pre-retina world was pretty damn close, in my opinion). But with the Nexus 7, Google has, for the first time, created an Android product that I would buy for myself. And I wouldn’t have an issue recommending it to anyone else.
Everyone already knows the device’s two key features: the 7-inch screen and the $199 price. Both have been rumored for months. And I was highly skeptical of both. I love my iPad from the screen size on down. And I didn’t think it would be possible to build a great tablet at such a low price.
But I was wrong.
Granted, Google isn’t making any money selling the device at $199 — at least not directly. And the device isn’t quite iPad-quality. But the iPad starts at $499. This is less than half the price. And the build quality is very good.
Normally when I get a review unit of a non-Apple product, I have to force myself to use it to get a sense of how I might use it in the real world. But with the Nexus 7, I actually find myself wanting to use it. That point can’t be overstated. I actually want to use an Android device. It’s a brave new world.
For me, the key is the size. Again, I was skeptical at first, but for many situations, I’ve come to love the 7-inch frame. The iPad is brilliant when you’re sitting on a couch or camped out in a coffee shop. In my view, the 9.7-inch iPad is slowly but surely becoming a laptop replacement. I expect this to continue. But a 7-inch tablet is different. The iPad is clunky to read in bed, for example. The Nexus 7 is perfect for that.
More broadly, the 7-inch tablet further opens the door to true mobile computing. I find myself constantly using it while walking around the house (as opposed to sitting on the couch). And I don’t think twice about shoving it in my bag when I take off for the day (as I sometimes do with my iPad when I have my laptop with me). Many could say the same about the iPad, but in my view, the 7-inch tablet is more desirable in many circumstances simply because it’s — shocker — smaller. 9.7 inches versus 7 inches may not seem like a huge difference. But it is.