Here’s something that may surprise you. I’m not the guy who has everything, but I don’t really want for much (other than some spare time and a worry-free life). So the current Mrs Adams always faces a problem at Christmas. Me, I’m not really concerned – I know that she’ll always do well at taking the hints for a few Xbox games (which is why I want spare time) and she always does a good job with some clothes, DVDs, and other assorted treats. The perennial problem is the main present, but this year I had decided in advance…
If you can be bothered to do any background reading into my technology life, see here (Kindle) and here (Archos). The Archos 605 was a Christmas present five years ago – the first one survived a week, the second one is still going strong (touch wood). But the battery life has depleted and it looks like something that should be in the Science Museum. It does however remain as the one and only option for recording from Sky Plus so that I can watch movies on my travels (I mean train and plane journeys, not while I’m driving). I have been known to travel with my laptop, Kindle and Archos, and now I’ll probably be taking the Surface everywhere as well (which may, some days, negate taking the laptop). And the Windows Phone. And occasionally my iPod. Device overload.
Anyway, back to the Christmas saga. A few months ago I started to eye-up the Kindle Fire HD. Kill two (no, three) birds with one proverbial stone.
- E-reader, it’s a Kindle
- Movies – yes, it plays movies and has a bigger screen than the Archos
- Another benefit, the battery life will be better and charges from USB, not the proprietary Archos connector
However, closer investigation showed that for barely any more money the Asus Nexus 7 offered the same and more, and was less locked down. And this led to other benefits, such as access to any app in the Google Play store. Finally, I’ve never had an Android device, so it would be a chance to experience something different. With this in mind on Christmas morning I was thanking Mrs A for a 32 GB Nexus 7 and dark grey case.
This being my first foray into the world of Android I have to say I’m impressed.
- It’s very easy to navigate and customise the home screens with apps and live widgets – that type of ‘on the surface’ info that we see on Windows 8 and Windows Phone live tiles but is missing from iOS
- The native apps are very good – e-mail, calendar, contacts, the store, Chrome
- Loads of apps in the Google Play store
- E-mail setup for Exchange and my personal dadams.co.uk accounts were dead easy
- I had to add an extra calendar to my GMail account (which I’ve never really used) in order to get the Arsenal fixtures on the device, but that was simple and the fixtures appeared within a minute
- The native media app wouldn’t play the .AVI movies generated by the Archos, but that was easily solved – I had my pick of several free movie players from the store
- You can place apps in folders (discovered that by accident)
- There’s a host of apps which provide live widgets – BBC News, Sky News, National Rail Enquiries, weather, Engadget, Sky Sports (the current or future Arsenal fixture), Facebook and Twitter, to name but a fraction of them
- No rear-facing camera, a non-issue given my two main use cases – haven’t tried anything like Skype yet to test the front-facing camera
- Lovely vibrant and responsive screen
- Sits well in one hand and is really beautifully constructed – remarkable quality for a sub-£200 device
- The orientation lock is on by default, I had to find this in the device settings
I’m sure you can find images of the Nexus 7 anywhere on the Interweb, but here’s a screenshot of one of my start pages, complete with some live widgets. Click on the small image to see the larger version. Note that two trains from Camberley are running on time, and I actually managed to capture that rare occurrence for posterity.