I’ve been lingering about in the world without a tablet for a good long while now. “But Cary,” you say, “don’t you have a Kindle Fire?” Yes I do, but the Fire is not a tablet. It is lovely e-reader that should really just stick to being an e-reader. While it downloads books with ease and works great for perusing Amazon, it stinks at just about everything else. It has a horrible web browser, an on-screen keyboard that only works in the presence of three goats sprinkled with unicorn sparkles, a clunky app store, and a processor that chugs along like that 3 mile-long train that stopped traffic the other day. With my Kindle frustrations at an all-time high, I figured that I finally needed to get with the times.
And by “get with the times” I mean “remain comfortably in the technological past with a machine that’s on the verge of being replaced by a newer model, because that’s life.”
Having become attached to Samsung mobile products over the past decade, I thought I might one day invest in a Galaxy Tab. But the 7-inch Google/Asus Nexus 7 generally reviewed a little better and seemed like a better value for my needs. Expandable storage? Nice, but not necessary. Dual cameras? Meh. Cool stylus? No thanks. The Nexus 7, which just passed its one-year birthday, fit the bill. And when I saw it on sale at my local Staples this past weekend, I knew it was meant to be. Me and my wallet hit the store, and I returned with a lovely 32 gb model in hand.
Once at home, we fired up all the necessary equipment needed to get the Nexus hooked up to the Internet, because we knew that would be the first order of business. Though actually, the very first order of business was charging the thing. So we waited…
…and watched some videos on the Nexus 7…
…and watched some videos on the new Hisense Sero 7 from Walmart ($149 and very comparable to the Nexus 7? Damn…)
…and we watched our cat watch things happening in the yard (an exciting life, we haz it)…
Upon turning on the device, we were greeted with a “choose your language” screen, and then up popped a wi-fi connection screen. Our router appeared in the list of local connections as excepted. With our setup, we first have to enter an item’s MAC address before connecting it. Given how we feel about computer security, no other way is acceptable. So, I went to the Nexus’s box to look for the MAC address, only to find that it wasn’t listed. I looked on the back of the device. Nothing. Huh? How…uh…what?? I knew that the MAC address would be listed under the tablet’s settings, but there was no way to skip the wi-fi connection screen to get there. Oh the evil minds at Google and Asus…!
So, as with any such technological conundrum, we went to the internet. Our searching brought us to forums dealing with the problem, which some had labeled the “Nexus 7 connection Catch-22” – needing the MAC address to connect, but not being able to get it without connecting. The two solutions offered were either disable MAC address filtering on the router, connect the device, then reset filtering (nope, not gonna happen), or set up a wi-fi hotspot locally or go to one, connect, go through the Nexus 7 setup to get to the settings screen, record the MAC address. To reiterate what many a forum commenter had to say on the issue, what the hell was Google thinking? We’ve never had to consider such asinine ways to connect any our devices – computers, games systems, mobile devices, etc. (And this is exactly what we told an Asus technical support rep over the phone. Yes, we went that route first to try to resolve things – it did not turn out so well, god bless all tech reps everywhere.) So, in the most ridiculous and only considerable move, we drove back up to the Staples, sat in the parking lot, Nexus in hand, connected to their local wi-fi, got to the settings page, wrote down the MAC address, headed back home, and finished the setup process. Dumb. Dumb. And DUMB.
After my nerves had calmed from the wi-fi fiasco, I finally sat down to spend some quality time with the Nexus 7. I’ve had it about a week now and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. It’s a beautiful, speedy, and lightweight device with access to everything that I need. While it came home with Android 4.1, it was very easy to upgrade to 4.2.2. The Google Play store is plenty robust with more than enough apps and games to keep one busy. Having real web browsers like Chrome and Firefox is simply wonderful. And the device is incredibly responsive both with touch and text. Whereas the text recognition software in the Kindle Fire left much to be desired, on the Nexus, typing is a breeze and misspellings never get passed over. Games and apps load quickly, and the touchscreen controls are never wonky. And what’s really nice (something new to me that probably standard with most tablets), is that we can set up the Nexus to have different users. So while I now have it connected to my all-purpose gmail account, I soon plan to set up an account for my blogging doppelganger strictly for writing and social media. And my husband can set up an account for quick access to his favorite apps. And I can set up a general guest account. And maybe I’ll even set up an account for the cat. I won’t. But…I could.
As for negatives…? Well yeah, there’s the wi-fi thing. Other than that I haven’t experienced anything bad yet; but I do think the Nexus’s battery life might become an issue in the future, especially since I plan to gravitate towards using it for mobile gaming. The Nexus 7 ad at Staples promised 9 or so hours on one charge, and most reviewers echoed this. I’ve depleted and charged it once this week, which isn’t bad considering that I’ve spent a few hours each day with it. But we’ll see. I haven’t yet made the commitment to any serious games, like GTA III, Final Fantasy IV, or Crazy Taxi, which will probably test the device’s limits.
So though the Nexus 8 is probably rolling off the design/assembly lines as I type, I’m super pleased with the Nexus 7. It’s the perfect addition to our technological family, and it’s been great to have on hand for Internet searches or a round or two of gaming. The stupid wi-fi thing is the only issue that keeps this device from hitting a grand slam. But scoring a triple with the bases loaded ain’t a bad thing either.