Currently, I have a the following Android tablets which I use for my app development testing as well as personal use:
- Acer Iconia A500 (10″) Tablet – This was my first tablet device which I purchase about a year ago for $300 US (which was discounted by $100 at Staples during a promotion). I still use this tablet almost daily at home for reading news and web browsing while eating breakfast, and also for watching Netflix movies on the couch. The battery life is great. I’ve also rooted it and installed a custom Honeycomb OS ROM to have a better performing tablet.
- Kindle Fire (7″) Tablet – Toting around my 10″ Acer tablet can be a bit cumbersome, so instead I decided to get the 7″ Kindle Fire when it was first released late last year. The hardware is solid, and at that time you couldn’t beat the $199 US price. Amazon sold these devices at a loss so they could use it as a delivery system for customers to purchase their other online services (e.g., apps, books, movies, music, etc). I’ve used this tablet on a daily basis also, taking it with me to coffee shops and restaurants, as well as being my companion on business trips. I use it for listening to Pandora (on WiFi), web browsing, and also accessing my Mac home computer via a VNC connection. Since the Kindle Fire has a limited and restricted version of the Android OS, I decided to root it and install a custom Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) OS ROM to modernize it. It does work better, but as with all custom ROMs it does have it’s quirks (e.g., the battery charging light doesn’t work nor does the OS report accurate battery power levels).
- Blackberry Playbook (7″) Tablet – I was given this tablet through a developer’s program with RIM. It’s physically almost identical to the Kindle Fire, but it runs a proprietary Android OS developed by Blackberry, and you can only install apps from the Blackberry app store (even though they are standard Android apps). I played around with this tablet for about 30 minutes, then promptly put it back in the box and stored it on my office shelf. I don’t have plans to use it for development work (since RIM is about to go out of business), and will probably sell it on eBay.
So, I use my Acer 10″ tablet for a lot of home use, and the 7″ Kindle Fire tablet when I leave the house. When I heard about the new Google Nexus 7 tablet’s specs and price, it was a no brainer to try to get one for my own personal use. It had the latest hardware technology (hi-res screen, quad-core Tegra processor, front camera, microphone) and the latest Google OS (newly introduced Jelly Bean). And selling at $199 for the 8 GB model (same storage as Kindle Fire) or $249 for the 16 GB model, it was a great deal. Fortunately, I was able to trade in my Apple iPod Touch 64 GB device at the Gamestop store and get enough credit to fully cover the cost of the Nexus 7 (see previous posting).
So, here’s my quick review of the Google Nexus 7 Tablet:
First, I’m very impressed with the build quality of the N7, as it is on par with an Apple hardware product. The tablet has a brushed aluminum trim around the sides with a dark brown/black rubber backing (which looks and feels like leather). This tablet looks very high-end, and hard to believe it is one of the cheapest tablets you can buy! The screen is also gorgeous and the touch sensitivity is great. The resolution of the screen (1280×800 HD) is definitely better than my Kindle Fire tablet.
The updated Jelly Bean OS makes the N7 run smoothly and quickly, and I have no complaints. Battery life is great, and the N7 is just a pleasure to use over my hacked Kindle Fire. There is absolutely no bloatware on this tablet, so it’s running the clean Android tablet interface that Google designed. The WiFi transceiver works good, as well as the built-in GPS receiver. This is probably the best 7″ android tablet on the market, so I’m sure Google will be selling these like hot cakes. And to top things off, if you pre-ordered your N7 you also get a $25 credit on the Google Play Store when you activate your device (as well as a few free books, magazines, and the “Transformers” movie).
The N7 also uses the Tegra quad-core processor which is suppose to be great for gaming graphics. The device also has accelerometers to help support advanced gaming controls.
So my plan is to sell my Kindle Fire and Blackberry playbooks now while they are still worth something on today’s market. Amazon may be coming out with a new successor to their Kindle Fire tablet, but I can’t imagine it beating out the N7’s pure Google OS experience.