Nexus 7: Push comes to shove, I prefer my iPad

Nexus 7: Push comes to shove, I prefer my iPad

Summary: Google's 7" tablet has a lot to offer for the price. But at the end of the day, I'd much rather use a mature device with superior screen resolution and a greater choice of native tablet optimized applications.

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My ZDNet colleague, James Kendrick absolutely loves his new Nexus 7.

This is to be expected as James is our Mobile News columnist and is a self-professed mobile technology junkie.

James and I both talk about the industry a lot together, and while we agree on many things, we have very different ways of looking at mobile tech. I tend to look at things from a very 10,000-foot, more enterprise oriented and vertical market level and James looks at things from a consumerist, in the trenches level.

James gets to look at every single gadget in the industry because manufacturers rely on him for in-depth product feedback, whereas I am extremely selective about my technology because more often than not, I have to pay for it myself if I want to evaluate it.

When the Nexus 7 was announced, I absolutely jumped at the chance to buy one because I needed a good Jelly Bean test platform, and the price was right given the amount of technology that was shoved into the device.

Over the last two weeks I've been putting the device through its paces.

While I own other Android tablet devices, they are all sitting in boxes right now because my home is in a state of moving flux -- so all I have right now at my disposal is the Nexus 7 and my iPad, both of which have been getting my undivided attention.

To say that my technology infrastructure right now is minimalist and reduced to bare essentials is an understatement. I only have one of my PC workstations functioning right now and it's set up temporarily in my living room while my bedrooms and office are being tiled.

James cites that the Nexus 7 has become his e-reader of choice. I agree that the Kindle and Nook applications both run extremely well on the unit, and that as a general overall value, the Nexus 7 is a much better buy than both the Kindle Fire and the NOOKTablet combined. 

However, I much prefer my iPad 3 for reading books, simply because the display is far more easy on the eyes due to its much higher resolution and pixel density.

I will note that for daytime reading I much prefer my real E-Ink based Kindle, and that while the current Kindle Fire is outdated technologically when compared to the Nexus 7, it has the advantage of being able to access the Amazon Lending Library by virtue of being an actual Kindle.

So if you're a Amazon Prime customer and want to take advantage of that service, you might as well own a real Kindle anyway.

James also likes using the Plume application for monitoring his Twitter activity. I also use Plume as my Android Twitter app of choice, but I find that it doesn't work much better on the Nexus 7 than it does on my Galaxy Nexus smartphone.

In fact, there's no difference at all, because the native resolution of the Nexus 7 is almost identical to a high-end Android smartphone -- the Nexus 7 is 1280x800 whereas my Galaxy Nexus or even the latest and greatest Samsung Galaxy S3 is 1280x720. 

Because my eyes stink, I find that on both the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7, that I have to crank up the font size to "Huge" so that I can read the status updates on Plume. On the iPad 3, I'm perfectly happy with the font used on the official Twitter app because the screen is so incredibly sharp and there's so much more screen area for reviewing tweets.

Would I like to be able to make it bigger? Sure. But I can still read it extremely clearly without modification.

And typing tweets out on a Nexus 7 versus an iPad? There's just no comparison. The iPad beats a Nexus 7 or comparable Android smartphone and even an iPhone hands down when it comes to any data entry application.

James also likes the browsing capabilities of the Nexus 7 with Chrome for Android. I admit that Chrome adds a great deal more value to Android than without -- I've been using it on my XOOM since Ice Cream Sandwich ROMs for that tablet went into beta testing. Being able to sync up your bookmarks and search history between devices is just plain fantastic, and the page rendering is first class.

But Chrome now has a port for iOS, and it works extremely well. It isn't as "native" for iOS, since it is unable to use Safari's built-in rendering engine and has to use an older engine to display pages, but all the synchronization stuff works just fine. So its tough to say the Nexus 7 is superior to the iPad based on browser technology alone.

James also appreciates the performance improvements Project Butter brings to the table. I agree, this is the smoothest performing Android yet. But smoother than iOS? No way, Jose.

The difference between Android and iOS in terms of overall app performance is readily apparent when you use comparable multimedia apps.

Take Skype, for example -- I've done Nexus 7 to Nexus 7 and Nexus 7 to iPad Skype sessions with James and other ZDNet columnists and we both found that Google's new tablet is a complete fail in this department. The video quality is fuzzy and loses sync with the audio, and the audio itself sounds tinny and breaks up constantly.

In fact I would classify the Nexus 7 as just plain unusable as a Skype client.

The iPad? The audio is clear as if the person was sitting right next to you and the video was perfectly in sync and displayed at much higher fidelity. It's a first-class VOIP and video conferencing platform.

Granted, it could be that the iOS Skype client and the Audio/Video codec is simply better written than the Android one, but it doesn't inspire a lot of confidence using the Nexus 7 for video conferencing or VOIP.

What about games? You'd think that the Tegra 3 would be an extremely beefy processor and would be able to get the job done.

But when I play any number of Android games, particularly 3D ones that tax the GPU, it's not unccomon to find the tablet pause to cache elements into memory and to stutter. Presumably, these games are written to use the NDK, not Dalvik, so we're talking about direct to frame buffer, so the OS can't get in the way.

You almost never see this happen on an iPad 3 with the same exact games. And the iPad 3 has a lot more pixels to drive.

James also notes that when he wants to get "real work done" he reaches for his iPad, not his Nexus 7. On this, I agree.

When it comes to being actually productive the iPad has much better applications, the Apple iWork suite in particular being the prime example. There are also numerous 3rd other apps which the iPad has that makes it much better suited as a business tool than the Nexus 7, which is clearly a consumer-targeted device.

I'll also note that the leading 3rd-party productivity suite for Android, Quickoffice Pro, is much better implemented on iOS. Google recently bought Quickoffice, presumably to integrate into a future version of Android and so it can be better integrated into Google Drive and Google Docs. I don't expect them to discontinue the iOS version anytime soon.

Now, don't get me wrong, I think the Nexus 7 is a great little tablet. I may find myself using it as my travel tablet of choice, since it's a lot less kit to carry with me and far less expensive a device to risk breaking on a trip, particularly if I want to watch movies on Netflix and do some casual after-hours browsing in my hotel room or in the airport lounge.

But as a replacement for my iPad 3 at home? Forget about it.

Would you give up your iPad for an Android tablet like the Nexus 7? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Apple, Google, iPad, Mobile OS, Smartphones, Tablets

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

143 comments
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  • To each their own.....

    Myself, I now have things I would rather do with the Nexus, the iPad and the Transformer.
    Basic reading, email review and news browsing (Flipboard, etc...) have been taken over by the Nexus. Lighter, single hand and easy to handle. The iPad for general game playing, and the Transformer for more work intensive items.

    Then again - that's me. I love choice.
    rhonin
    • Choice is fine

      But I have bad eyes. The iPad's 10" display is easier for me to use and I don't have to do anything special to use it.
      Vulpinemac
      • So

        So if it was available in a 10" format you would go for the Nexus?
        fldbryan@...
        • Nooooooo...

          Did you miss the part about the current Nexus stuttering while only driving a small screen... Think about how bad that would be on a 10 inch screen...

          The Nexus is just another wannabe iPad... Competition is good for us all, but make no mistake, it's nowhere near as good as an iPad... The lack of power for Skype and stuttering/lag are clear examples of this. And then if you consider app choices and where developers are both now and in the future, then iPad is a huge winner by a huge margin.

          I know you troll-bois whack off and fantasize about the day a tablet comes out that can beat the iPad. You will be as happy as Gollum was after he bit off Frodo’s finger and finally got his "Precious" back. And once you troll-bois take a shower and clean off all the self made sticky, you will be on every forum you can find, typing in all caps and making even bigger @sses out of yourselves than you already are... I get that... We all get it... But that isn't going to happen any day soon... The competitor that beats the iPad has to be better on most and at least equal on 4 criteria, User experience, price, performance, and app selection... In other words, it's gonna be awhile...

          And as far as the nexus 7 goes... The shine has worn off and now people get to see it for what it is... Nothing more than a stuttering wannabe iPad that can't even provide a smooth experience on a much smaller, lower quality screen. So does anyone want one in a bigger screen size that would make it stutter and lag even more?

          Would you go for a 10 inch nexus fldbryan?
          i8thecat4
          • What Stutter?

            I push mine and have yet to see it.
            It hasn't crashed. It runs like a trooper.

            Why does it seem like you are just opinionating based on others comments?
            rhonin
          • I used one for an hour

            and I saw the stutter. Pinch and zoom showed it almost right away. Page turning in a book was fine for the most part but sometimes it had a hitch.

            Basically this is the exact problem I have had with every Android device I have used.

            Dont get me wrong if there was not an iPad I would ignore it because the device is still amazing at its price point. The problem is the iPad is simply a better device all around.
            JeveSobs
          • I agree that opinions should be based on actual experience

            But I have to ask why that applies now? Whenever there is a post about the iPad crashing or anything like that it's not questioned at all and means they all do that yet that's not the case when the post is about an Android device?
            non-biased
          • Comments about troll-bois

            seem a little ironic from you. You clearly haven't used a Nexus 7 but have no problem slating it. In your eyes, could anything ever get close to an ipad? Thought not, so your comments seem a little troll-bois to me.
            In my limited experience of both, the ipad isn't immune to stuttering or requiring a restart and the nexus needs really pushing to notice any stuttering. Carry on troll-boy.
            Little Old Man
          • I think Jason may have gotten a bad device...

            easily 40% of most electronics are faulty in some way...

            any way, on to why I think it might be a bad device...
            I had a tegra 2 10" tablet almost 1.5 years ago and had no lag or stutter when doing simple tasks as stated in the article. Considering the level of performance increases the Tegra3 has over the Tegra2, I find it would be impossible for the Tegra3 GPU to be the cause of any issues on a 7" device. Just not happening.

            Additionally, this all goes back to patents... Apple has patents on the Algorithms for smooth scaling and zooming on a touch screen, amongst others. And they refuse to share. While there may be many methods in math to come up with the same answer (1+1=2 but 3-1=2 also...) when you have specific variables and attempt to reach the same answer as someone else using the same problem, there is only one method to do it. if Google could get a judge to understand this point, the "smoothness" of scrolling and zooming on Android would equal iOS. But they apparently decided not to try and win that one in court (getting the patents thrown out as invalid). So, Google had to find another way to get 1+1=2 without using 1+1=2 and using the numbers 1, 1, and 2.

            It has taken a while, but they are getting there...
            aiellenon
          • Really?

            I don't normally reply to comments but I just had to register and put in my two cents here. I own an iPhone and used the iPad quite often. My brother and his family has 3 iPads and i use them quite a bit.

            I've owned the Nexus 7 for a month. I love it. I had some quirks with Skype but its working fine now with the latest version. You have to remember that the Jelly Bean operating system is new and apps will have to be upgraded and may have some compatibility issues. Apple apps have the same problems when a major iOS version (and sometime minor version) come out. They're apps and they'll improve over time.

            Now let's talk about the device and operating system. It's light especially compared to the heft of the latest iPad. I bought a tablet so I can have it my hand. If I wanted to prop something on the table, I'd use my Macbook Pro. Weight is also a consideration when you're traveling. I rather do without the extra couple of pounds when you're walking around for hours and carrying your other day to day gear.

            I haven't really seen any major stuttering at all and I use my Nexus constantly. There may be a niggling of a stuttering but it depends on the app you're using but it doesn't really detract from user experience unless you're really anal about it. Again its a new O/S and apps are getting upgraded all the time. Size is not the major factor here but resolution. You can have a bigger screen and have a lower resolution as the original iPad and things can be smoother with less power. The Nexus 7 quad core processor is pretty darn good. Check out some of the high end graphics games. It rivals some PS3 games graphics wise.

            I don't have great eye sight but it's not bad either so I find the screen good for what I use my tablet for: email, news, web browsing, portable media watching. Of course a larger screen would be nice and it would be great to have all on my 52" TV but I wouldn't want to carry that sucker around.

            The other thing I really like about the Nexus 7 is that I can thumb type perfectly in my hands like my iPhone. No need to it down on the table or my lap. That's huge when you're on a train, bus, sofa or in bed where I usually use a tablet.

            In the end it is about preference and how you use your tablet and what you use it for. As for the apps why not rate them when they are a little more mature on the latest version. iOS 5 has been out for a while and the apps have worked out their compatibility issues from the previous iOS. The apps on the Nexus 7 (jelly bean) are quickly being upgraded and are running beautifully on it. It's constant evolution and Apple apps are the same. I haven't updated my apps on my iPhone for a month and I have 63 updates pending. Let's be a little objective here.
            BeeverN
    • Road warriors

      I reckon I'm as hard core as you get for road warriors and I've pretty much used all the devices you can name. I've owned dozens of phones, tablets in every size and laptops.
      Number 1 go-to weapon of choice is Samsung Galaxy Note - until you have owned and used one, you have no idea how awesome this device is. My Dell Streak 7 gets no love because the GNote does everything the Streak 7 does and does it better. If you're thinking of getting a 7" tablet to compliment your phone, I say sell your phone, forget about the 7" tablet and just get the Galaxy Note. You will wonder how you lived without it!
      My tablet of choice is easily Toshiba Thrive AT100. Full size HDMI port, Full size SDXC (128gb swaps just like that!), full size USB + mini USB. And the best feature of them all - REMOVABLE BATTERY! With a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, it's almost a laptop. Hook it up to HDMI and USB hard drive, it's a almost a desktop.
      As for gaming, only androids can use bluetooth gaming controllers. I can plug my Galaxy Note into TV via HDMI and then pair up my PS3 controller and use it like a gaming console. An ipad will never be able to do that because Apple crippled the bluetooth profiles in iOS. You can only play games using the touchscreen which is only good for a small range of games. No mouse either for iOS, that makes games designed for mice control out of the question.
      As a road warrior, one of the things you want is connectivity. Number one on the list is bluetooth file transfer and I totally wanna blow up Apple Inc for leaving this out of iOS. Why da fark do you put in Bluetooth 4.0 in your Apple devices if it cannot be used to send a fricken file to another device in the same room! Why can't I just bluetooth it!! WHY WHY!
      Trying to move large amounts of data to/from an iOS device is sooooo painful compared to simply swapping an SD card or using the device as a USB drive. Being able to just transfer stuff to/from SD card or USB key or USB drive and then use it later on my tablet is unbelievably convenient compared to what is possible on an iPad. And I don't have to make sure I have the adapters with me like an iPad, the USB port and SD slot is ALWAYS there. In any case, working with files is a pain in iOS. icloud is a rubbish solution for storage.
      When I go anywhere, I pack my netbook and my Galaxy Note. I have spare batteries and external chargers for both so I am always portable and never actually need to connect to power. I am pretty sure every road warrior knows how annoying it is having to wait for your device to charge. Sometimes I pack the tablet, but don't really need it.
      While my 10" tablet is pretty much a toy, I still want it to have the potential to do as much as possible when I need it to. An iPad, more specifically iOS, just makes everything that that I do a little bit more difficult with its lack of connectivity.
      warboat
      • Really???

        You think the best feature of them all is a "REMOVABLE BATTERY"???

        I can just imagine you sitting there for hours and hours pulling the battery and replacing it... Almost as much fun as the box it came in eh?

        Yeah... You go girl!!!
        i8thecat4
        • 2/10 on the Troll Meter

          One of the lamest I have seen lately.
          rhonin
          • Really?

            You give it a 2? Your scale must need calibrating?
            Little Old Man
        • Wow. Not too much of a sarcastic apologist.

          You really blew your credability with that one.
          Cayble
        • Removable Batteries

          A true road warrior is a multitasking beast.
          He multithreads the battery charging procedure with using the device in full portable mode. Battery swaps are done in under a minute.
          Meanwhile, Apple owners can't multithread charging and portable usage. Plug-in juicepacks don't count as it compromises portability which is why you are using an ipad in the first place.
          warboat
          • Portable battery charger is better I think.

            If you get a battery charger that can charge 2.1 Amps, that is amazing for keeping multiple devices charged. Keeping removable batteries for each device is right up there with carrying a whole laptop or docking station. With a portable USB charger, you can charge your phone and tablet(s) or mp3 player. Removable battery would only be needed if ts a device you can't use all day like you can with most good tablets or an Air notebook.
            ossoup
          • removable batteries

            Attached external battery packs may be bearable as a half baked solution for personal use like when camping or far away from a power outlet. Of course a device with a removable battery also has this option.
            Removable batteries become significant when you need minimal downtime with each device.
            An ipad2 needs about 3 hours to charge to get about 10-12 hours of heavy use. That's a max duty cycle of around 80%. Ipad3 needs 5hours to charge: duty cycle is only around 65%.
            this means for every 10 ipad2 device that we need in action on the floor, we need another 6 on charge and on avg 2 of those will have sufficient charge to swap over for full portable duty.
            In comparison, using a tablet with removable batteries requires only 1 spare device for every 10 for instant swapover and 4 spare batteries and external chargers assuming a conservative duty to charge ratio of 3:1. Life cycle of the device and thus long term maintenance cost is also way longer than ipad solutions as it never needs to go in for service to get the internal battery replaced when they stop holding useful charge. The only long term maintenance cost is the replaceable batteries (Toshiba Thrive AT100 replacement batteries are under $30 each on amazon).
            16 ipads vs 10 Toshiba Thrives plus spare batteries (or 11 if you must have instant swaps).
            When it comes to industrial 24/7 portable usage, the ipad has more than double the initial cost plus significantly higher long term cost and limited life cycle vs a removable battery tablet solution.
            And that's before we compare connectivity options and performance. Ipad wireless is simply crap in terms of range, signal strength, and speed. Any fanboy who wants to argue about this is just full of sh17. I put this down to a combination of the aluminium case hindering signal and Apple turning down the output of the wireless module in favour of battery life. The extra routers needed to support ipads makes it an inefficient solution. Extra costs, extra complexity, lower connection reliability and performance.
            If you are in any capacity to provide industrial portable solutions and you opt for the ipad in situations requiring max duty cycle, you are an idiot.
            Toshiba Thrive: for real work
            Ipad: personal toy
            warboat
          • removable batteries

            Attached external battery packs may be bearable as a half baked solution for personal use like when camping or far away from a power outlet. Of course a device with a removable battery also has this option.
            Removable batteries become significant when you need minimal downtime with each device.
            An ipad2 needs about 3 hours to charge to get about 10-12 hours of heavy use. That's a max duty cycle of around 80%. Ipad3 needs 5hours to charge: duty cycle is only around 65%.
            this means for every 10 ipad2 device that we need in action on the floor, we need another 6 on charge and on avg 2 of those will have sufficient charge to swap over for full portable duty.
            In comparison, using a tablet with removable batteries requires only 1 spare device for every 10 for instant swapover and 4 spare batteries and external chargers assuming a conservative duty to charge ratio of 3:1. Life cycle of the device and thus long term maintenance cost is also way longer than ipad solutions as it never needs to go in for service to get the internal battery replaced when they stop holding useful charge. The only long term maintenance cost is the replaceable batteries (Toshiba Thrive AT100 replacement batteries are under $30 each on amazon).
            16 ipads vs 10 Toshiba Thrives plus spare batteries (or 11 if you must have instant swaps).
            When it comes to industrial 24/7 portable usage, the ipad has more than double the initial cost plus significantly higher long term cost and limited life cycle vs a removable battery tablet solution.
            And that's before we compare connectivity options and performance. Ipad wireless is simply crap in terms of range, signal strength, and speed. Any fanboy who wants to argue about this is just full of sh17. I put this down to a combination of the aluminium case hindering signal and Apple turning down the output of the wireless module in favour of battery life. The extra routers needed to support ipads makes it an inefficient solution. Extra costs, extra complexity, lower connection reliability and performance.
            If you are in any capacity to provide industrial portable solutions and you opt for the ipad in situations requiring max duty cycle, you are an idiot.
            Toshiba Thrive: for real work
            Ipad: personal toy
            warboat
          • Removeable Batteries...why?

            Why would I want to buy another removeable battery for my iphone, nexus 7, ipad etc etc. When I can buy a battery that recharges each or any of these 3 or 4 times and costs less, but does more. Get out of the stone age.
            A single replacement Tosh battery costs more than a generic recharge pad that can do more, so warboat, not only are you in the stone age, you've also got more money than sense!
            scorp888