I bought an N7 to serve as a combination of my primary Android development testbed, and to see what a 7” tablet feels like in use, without spending a fortune. I went for 16GB because there’s no potential to add an SD card.
So, first and most boring, Android Jellybean. The usual mess of homescreens, and the vanilla Android experience is just another slightly different Android front end. But, I’m a developer and as long as I can invoke app through an app screen, and get to the settings, that’s grand.
As far as the form factor goes, this feels like a totally different beast to an iPad. It is less than half the size (area) and about half the weight. I can easily imagine taking this places I would never envisage taking an iPad. It fits beneath the “might as well shove it in the bag” threshold; very similar size and motivation to a 3G Kindle (the one with 200 buttons pretending to be a keyboard).
Which leads to what I see is most fascinating about this; the screen is good enough to read from, and I’ve been using it to read, so N7 (by accident or design) is a bit of a Kindle killer. Including being a killer of the Kindle Fire, of course. I haven’t got an iPad3 which I can imagine has a readable screen, but it’s too big to work as a reader. The iPad1/2 screen just isn’t crisp enough. I’ll be interested to see how Amazon reacts to this; they want to force the closed infrastructure of Kindle, but the Kindle Reader on Android is about the lowest friction way to read on an N7 with actual available content. Amazon should be supporting this; their business model for Kindle is flogging content after all.
For other content consumption, the screen size and aspect ratio make things rather imperfect. Website content is just not generally adapted to the screen size. The aspect ratio makes things worse; a conventional 1280x1024 website in 1280x800 N7 browser has the edges of the text neatly removed. You can do OK in landscape mode when you figure out where the rotate lock is hidden, but you then need a fair bit of scrolling.
Other content needs to catch up a bit. In particular, would the BBC please update iPlayer for Jellybean ? The death of Flash is leaving a bit of a migration hole.
So, a really nice piece of kit, the world needs to sort out the 7” website content chicken and egg problem.
Oh, and of course maps look really nice on this, and the size is pretty ideal. I’m glad to say that the NCN app was very happy.