Google's Nexus 7 Tablet
There was a ton of buzz around the Google Nexus 7 tablet coming out of Google I/O, and rightfully so. On the surface, it looks to be a serious competitor in the ever-widening tablet market due in no small part to the engineering of the hardware and software, and the it's impressive connection to the Google ecosphere of products and services.
There have been many articles written about the specs of the device, so I won't spend a lot of time writing about those, but you can find them here if you need them (http://www.google.com/nexus/#/7). Instead, I'll recap my overall experience with the ordering process, and initial impressions.
I pre-ordered this tablet via the Google Play store on Monday 7/9. I received a confirmation email letting me know my order was received, and the shipping status told me it would ship within 1-2 weeks. On Saturday 7/14 just before midnight, I received an email stating that my tablet was shipped from Google via UPS 2 day shipping. I figured since It shipped on Saturday, it should arrive on Monday...nope, Saturday was in the books already, and it arrived late in the day on Tuesday. No biggie. When I got it, it came in a nondescript box (likely to deter thieves from ripping into it on the way) which was easy to open.
Inside, I saw the Nexus 7 packaging, which was impressively designed. As I opened it, like many who have commented on this topic, I had a bit of trouble getting into it. There were strategically placed black stickers that were hard to notice, and screwed up my "unboxing video :)
Once opened, I began setting it up, which was surprisingly easy. The first thing I noticed was the crisp, super sharp display. Wow, I was surprised at how close it came to replicating the display on my iPad, and even my wife's iPad2. Close doesn't really describe it...they were on par, at a minimum.
The next thing I was anxious to get into was the Jelly Bean OS. With little difficulty, I was able to intuitively begin navigating around the device using the JB interface. I set up some generic widgets which looked beautiful, and began to learn how to navigate using the "recent history" option, which was really cool. Once I installed some of my favorite apps (easy syncing between Google play and my device), I was able to do more customization to the device with app specific widgets, which is pretty awesome.
Another thing I was excited about was the Google Now option, which I have to admit, took me a while to find. I assumed it would be it's own app, or widget that I could place anywhere on the device, but instead, I found that I needed to drag the Google app onto my home screen to activate it. Initially, it didn't tell me much other than about the weather, but I expect that this will get smarter over time.
Netflix looks great on the device...again, really sharp display.
As I navigated around YouTube, one thing bugged me. I love to look for new content, and with kids, I'll look up some of the "all time" most viewed videos to get them to the funny stuff fast. Outside of the "trending" option, I don't see a way to get to some of these older classics. I'm instead presented with search options like; entertainment, sports, etc...
The other thing that bugged me was that the speaker jack is placed on the bottom of the device. This is problematic if, like many, you want to watch content with earphones in while your significant other sleeps. With the jack on the bottom, it makes it impossible to lay the device on your chest in bed while you look for content on, say, YouTube. Sure, you can rotate the view and eliminate the problem, but it will require the constant flipping of the device...
Is this an iPad replacement? Is this a Kindle Fire killer? The answer to those questions is Yes. And No. What I mean is that I think there will be room for many devices like these. Clearly, Apple has established a place in history with the introduction of the iPad, a revolutionary device. They have successfully established solid market share within their platform, but I think there is room for many players, at least until the tablet market matures. The Kindle Fire(and future iterations) is, for example, going to be a great device that integrates with the Amazon platform, and the Nexus will be Google's answer. I do, however, think the number of platforms that can exist peacefully will be limited. Apple, Amazon, Google are all in the game, but what about Blackberry? What about Windows? The jury is still out, but the opportunity is there.
I look at the tablet market kind of like the Auto Industry. In the beginning, there were many players. Now, there are relatively few. Some of the largest manufacturers have a well established "die hard" base that wouldn't consider another brand, and some people switch back and forth between vehicle brands at a whim. The tablet market will be no different. In the near future (3 years or less), tablets will be in everyone's hands, and there will be a shake out in which only the strong survive by creating these die hard fans. In my opinion, at $199 for the 8GB tablet, the Nexus is a strong, and bold step for Google in establishing themselves as a major platform that will remain relevant for years to come.