Ever since the Nexus 7 released, I’ve been bugging my boss to get me one. We’re working on an Android port of mobilEcho so I figured it was a pretty safe bet I’d get my hands on one as opposed to one of the absolutely abysmal older Android phones we have sitting around the office. After dropping several not-so-subtle hints, he finally relented and gave me his (acquired at the Google I/O Conference). I’ve now been using the device for a few hours each day of the past month and feel qualified to share my thoughts.


  • Price. Starting at $199, it’s $200 less than even the cheapest last-gen iPad ($399) and $300 less than the cheapest new iPad ($499).
  • Size. At 7″, this is a highly portable device. It can actually fit into the pocket of my jeans.
  • Looks. It looks good.
  • Google Play. The application store is completely open. No review process, no yearly fee to be paid by developers.
  • Not created by Apple. This is a major selling point to a lot of folks. Apple is Big Brother. I can handle it, but many cannot.


  • Size. At 7″, it’s too small to be really useful as a tablet. The screen feels very cramped and therefore inefficient; I can’t type on it as with a regular keyboard, and I misclick buttons like it’s my job. There must be a sweet spot between 7″ and 11″ for a mini-tablet market, but I have yet to experience it.
  • Not created by Apple. The build quality is poor, which I’ve come to expect from Asus products (I used to own an Eee PC. Remember netbooks? Yeah, I’d rather not). I haven’t had any issues, but the device also rarely leaves my desk. I personally know of two folks (of less than a handful who have this device) who have had fitment issues.
  • Not a “Retina” display. I see pixels. Even when looking at an iPad2 these days, I weep.
  • Runs Android. Going with bullets here…
    • Android still is, and always has been highly hackable and customizable, which inherently means it’s buggy. I was able to do things on the device within minutes that brought me to Google searching for answers/fixes.
    • Android is not intuitive. It’s not. End of story. Having basically lived on a computer for the past 20+ years, I’ve seen and messed with it all. I was unable to pick this device up and understand it completely. That does not bode well for less tech-savvy users.
    • The application store is “open.” That means anyone can submit any app and have it online and available to users around the world within seconds. It’s like the old days of the internet where you could find anything you needed, but had to wade through countless amounts of bullshit to get there. And oh yeah, sometimes the bullshit might format your hard drive. It’s like the Wild West. While that’s good for some users, for the average user, it’s not. I welcome Apple having their hand in everything that I can download to my device. It raises the bar on quality and significantly reduces the chances of me doing damage to myself.
    • Android users don’t buy applications. This leads to quality developers not developing for the platform, which severely limits the selection of quality applications out there.
    • Google has yet to figure out the fragmentation problem. With 4000 devices to support, as opposed to the handful from Apple, developers face a much steeper hill when developing for the platform. Some simply choose not to. This again limits the number of quality applications available. Additionally, there are countless versions of the same application available. When searching for VPN software (why this particular one isn’t built-in, as with iOS, is another matter), I was presented a handful of variations that differed merely by a few numbers and initials. In this case, I happened to know the exact “flavor” of the operating system I was running and selected the correct one, but I shouldn’t have to.
    • The platform is an afterthought to many developers. Anecdotal evidence, but browsing the recent release list on the Android is like browsing the App Store twelve months ago.

At the end of the day, it mostly comes down to the operating system. The device itself is fairly nice and can be had for a good price, but I can’t come around to Android just yet; going back to the iPad on the weekends feels like a breath of fresh air. To me, that’s worth a few hundred extra dollars.

If your budget is strict and you absolutely need a tablet, however, this is probably the best you’re going to do in 2012. That said, don’t be surprised if you happen to find yourself not using it, because I didn’t find it to be that good, enjoyable, or useful. If I were you, I’d keep saving.