I had one of those heavy birthdays last week. The kind of birthday that prompts your spouse to purchase you something geeky and electronic to make you smile and possibly not feel quite as old as you are. (Isn’t every birthday like that?) On this birthday, after some advance negotiations (“I’m not getting this unless you tell me you will definitely be happy with it”), I received the recently released second-generation version of the Google Nexus 7. And yes, I am very, very pleased with it.
For a long time I hesitated between the iPad mini and the Nexus 7. My wife got an iPad a couple of years ago and has been delighted with it ever since. About eight months ago her father got an iPad mini and he too has been delighted with it. And since cost, on this one occasion, was no bar (these heavy birthdays really do only come around rarely) I could easily have gone with the iPad mini. But everything I’d been reading about the new Nexus 7 suggested that it was more than equal to the challenge of the iPad mini. Plus, I was a bit concerned that we were getting painted into a corner here with our iMacs and the iPad; perhaps it was time to branch off into a different paradigm with an Android device (well, actually it’s probably the same paradigm, just a different company/environment). Then there was the much-vaunted beauty of the new Nexus screen. And finally, even though someone else was buying this for me, there was the cost difference, which here is about one hundred dollars. And that does mean something.
Choice made, heavy birthday survived, now it’s time to report on the joys (or not) of actually using the Nexus 7. Reader, I can safely say that it is wonderful.
The set-up of the device was painless. I found the apps I was looking for in Google Play, initially adding them to a wish list until I was ready to begin installing them. I’ve got the apps you might expect, I suppose: Facebook, IMDB, BBC News, LinkedIn, Dropbox, CBC News, Skype, Twitter, Flickr and more. There are a few apps I have installed based on recommendations from across the net. For example, Duolingo, which is a language-learning app, turns out to be fabulous (it is available for the iPad as well). I’m sure I will find lots more in time, but I’ve got enough to be getting on with.
One thing that was expected was how easy the move to Android is if you’ve already been enjoying a variety of Google products. Gmail, Drive (Google Docs, as was), Maps, and such just work the way you would expect. The browser is Google Chrome, which is fine with me. And there are apps for Google Earth, your Gmail contacts, and for Google+ (for which I’ve yet to find a real use).
Of course one of my goals for this device was to use it for reading e-books and other e-materials. To that end I purchased a subscription to The New Yorker magazine through Google Play Magazines. The subscription cost was reasonable and I’ve got to say that the magazine looks great on the device. It is easy to navigate, easy to read, and it has lots of additional multimedia content. I figure this will get me in the habit of reading on the device and that will make the move to reading books here easier. To that end I have added the Overdrive media app, which is what our public library uses. And of course there is also Google Play Books should I wish to purchase any e-books (though I’m so stingy it will take a great deal to break down my reservations on that).
Mostly I’m just having fun with my new Nexus. I still have a bit of a learning curve ahead, no doubt, but that’s no bother. Oh, and one last thing, my Nexus 7 is now housed in a nice Snugg case/cover. I guess I’m set.