Monday, October 29, 2012

Tablet Lifestyle

Google finally sent me a replacement Nexus 7. Despite loading it up to less than 3GB available, the random write ops were still well over 100, indicating that the new machine doesn't have a faulty memory controller. Further more, the new Nexus 7 also does not have an annoying creak in the screen that the old one had, indicating that physical build quality might have improved. With these problems eliminated, I can safely recommend the Nexus 7 once again.

What have I been using the Nexus 7 for? Like many others, I use it a lot for e-mail. There's danger in that, however --- the desktop e-mail client is still far better about auto-complete. More than once, I thought I'd selected one auto-complete only to find myself sending mail to some other random person with a similar name. This has embarrassed me greatly at least once, so I'm trying to get better about checking the To field before hitting send.

With several other people in the house, I can watch movies on the N7 so I don't interrupt them. It's a fairly satisfying experience unless you try to watch video on Google Play. Even with a high speed internet connection, I still get occasional hiccups which interrupt the flow. Occasionally, the device even pops into standard definition in order to keep up. Google Music, however, streams just fine from the internet over wifi.

Skype is great on the Nexus 7. When chasing Bowen around the house, it's far better to chase him with the Nexus 7 than with the desktop or even the Thinkpad. Grandparents love the dynamic hand-held video cam that the Nexus 7 comes with. The picture quality is decent, though obviously not as nice as a real webcam.

Quora has a great app on the Nexus 7, and I find myself using it more often than I should. Other common apps that are proxies for websites are Facebook and Google+, though I find myself disliking the graphics-heavy Google+ app and opting to use Google+ on the web instead.

One thing I find though is that when I share from the Nexus 7 instead of the desktop, I write fewer comments and less insightful ones. Despite the bluetooth paring being decently easy and fast, my suspicion is that digging out the keyboard for use on the Nexus 7 is still not convenient enough.

While it's possible to write a decent amount on the Nexus 7 when you have a bluetooth keyboard paired, it's still not as comfortable as writing on my desktop, so I doubt if my desktop is in danger of being replaced. Ultimately, my suspicion is that I'm going to have to curtail my use of the Nexus 7 when not traveling so I can get more reading done. It's too addictive to browse the web instead of reading or writing.

I did find a good use of the Nexus 7 for business. I was recently renting out my studio unit, and when the tenants showed up and wanted to apply right away, instead of having them go home to verify their identity using e-renter, I handed them a tablet and the bluetooth keyboard and they could verify their identity right away. I used to use the laptop for it, but it's a pain to unplug it from the monitor (especially if my wife was using it), so it was nice to have another screen in the house to do this. I suppose I could have powered up the Playstation 3 and use the really big screen, but since the renter had to enter his social security number into the identity verification web-site, it was best to have a small screen. If I was an apartment manager with frequent turnover, I could see myself buying a Nexus 7 or other tablet just for this function.

Compared with an Apple iPad 2, the Nexus 7 felt much more portable and easy to browse say, at the breakfast table. Further more, Apple's software is questionable. For instance, if you loaded an iPad with photos sync'd through iTunes, there's no way to delete that photo from the iPad without going through iTunes. So one use of the iPad (for instance, to load up photos from a trip and have the grandparents pick the ones they wanted to keep on the iPad) is just impossible.

Now that Google's fixed my issues with my Nexus 7, I might go as far as to order another Nexus 7 for my parents so they can Skype to Bowen. They are forever breaking their Skype setup, and it'd be much harder for them to break a Nexus 7.

I still don't consider a tablet essential to my lifestyle. However, if you have to get one, I'd definitely get the Nexus 7 over the iPad.

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