Accordion Al - image by Ivy, age 10

Business in Vancouver

Canadian Freelance Union- CEP

New Google Nexus tablet proves more than a match for larger iPad

by  Alan Zisman (c) 2012 First published in Business in Vancouver 28 August, 2012 Issue #1192 High Tech Office column

Back in 2010, Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs suggested that no one wanted a seven-inch tablet – Apple’s iPad has a 10-inch screen. His reasoning – seven inches was too large to fit in a pocket like a mobile phone but too small for more data-rich tablet apps.

And none of that first generation of non-iPad tablets sold particularly well.

Google wants to prove Jobs wrong. Its new Nexus 7 tablet, manufactured for Google by ASUS and powered by Google’s new “Jelly Bean” Android mobile operating system, has a seven-inch display and an attractive price: $209 with eight gigabytes of storage, $259 for a 16-gigabyte (GB) model.

The low prices don’t equal low-end specifications.

Apps open quickly, screens display smoothly and links and special effects run without a hitch – which was not the case on other Android tablets I’ve tested. Google claims a goal developing Jelly Bean was to make Android feel “buttery.” It has succeeded. It’s only useful, though, if there are apps for it. Apple boasts a huge library of tablet-optimized apps, while relatively few Android apps have been designed for tablet use.

But the seven-inch screen of the Nexus works to its advantage in this case: Android apps designed for mobile phone screens work just fine.

The seven-inch screen is easier to type on than phone screens but not as touch typing-friendly as the larger iPad. I type with all my fingers on an iPad, here, though, it’s back to two fingers.

The smaller size works well for eBooks, however – perhaps better than the larger iPad. You can hold it in one hand and fit it into a large pocket. Battery life is at least the equal of the iPad – about 10 hours. Like Android mobile phones, the Nexus 7 is integrated into Google’s collection of online services. You can use it without being plugged into Gmail and the like, and it supports businesslike Microsoft Exchange servers.

Some negatives: like an iPad, there is no option to increase storage with a memory card. The much more expensive iPads offer between 16 and 64 GB of storage compared with a choice of just 8 GB and 16 GB for the Nexus 7. IPads have Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi plus mobile digital options; the Nexus 7 is Wi-Fi only. There’s no back-mounted camera, just a low-resolution front camera for video. A big minus for some users – no video output connection so no easy way to display a presentation.

Like the iPad, there’s no Flash support.

But overall, I like it a lot. I’ve been using it regularly for email, social networking and web browsing, and it makes going back to my laptop feel like driving a truck – something that’s useful for the heavy hauling.

My iPad now feels like the family sedan. But most of the time I’d rather use the affordable Nexus 7, which feels more like driving a peppy sports car for most of my city driving.