Nexus 7 – First Impressions

I may represent a small portion of the technologically aware population, but I just recently purchased my first touch screen device, a Nexus 7 32GB tablet.

The quick and dirty about the device is, it’s an Android Jelly Bean (4.1 quickly upgraded to 4.2) device in the 7 inch form factor with a front camera, a mini USB port, and a headphone jack.  It’s startlingly fast and smooth in all its transitions and whatnot, feels like what I always expected a touch screen interface should.

I had to enable auto-rotation so that I could use it in widescreen mode too.  I also quickly downloaded a few apps right off the bat: skype, dropbox, google drive, open document reader, and a few others.

It’s quite different operating in a touch screen environment after years and years of working with mouse and keyboard.  I don’t use a smart phone so it’s been more or less starting from zero.  The main issues I’ve had so far aren’t interface issues, but rather workflow issues.

The Nexus 7 is wifi only, which means if you leave the auspices of your home wireless network and want to use the tablet you must be aware of how it handles various file management issues.  Dropbox for instance hot-loads files on request rather than copying an entire instance of itself like it would on a laptop or desktop install.  Which means if you want to work with a file, you need to pre-cache it before leaving your network.  The same goes for using the GPS away from your wifi, you need to pre-cache your map or route if you want any details or navigation assistance.  I’m still working that out.

Also, I predominately use open document formats like ODT, ODS, and Android doesn’t have native editing software, for some silly reason.  Of course I can convert with Google Drive, but I don’t always want to have to do that.  I haven’t quite worked out the best way to compose, edit, and manage text, and spreadsheet documents on my tablet.  For the time being, I’m experimenting with a few different methods and apps until I find something that works well for me.

The search features, being from Google, are astoundingly solid.  The voice recognition and dictation also work pretty well to a point.  It feels awkward dictating punctuation though, and I haven’t figured out how to go back and edit without resorting to the on-screen keyboard.

The most frustrating missing feature for me so far is the inability to address an e-mail to a group in g-mail as opposed to individually selecting names of your contacts.  The groups themselves are available in the People app, but I can’t find any way to compose an e-mail to them.  All I can say about that is WTF?  Googling the issue proves that it has been a recurring issue in various Android versions and has occasionally been solved with 3rd party apps, though I haven’t found one that solves the issue for Jelly Bean yet.

I’m very happy that I waited until now to jump on the touch-screen device train, as it seems like a lot of it has matured.  I expected to need to transition my workflow, so I’m not surprised to find that true.  Some nagging issues with being wi-fi only I hope will continue to be solved, more and more elegantly in future releases.

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Filed under android, gadgets, linux, technology, Uncategorized

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