Following the Google I/O developers conference opening keynote in late June, where Google announced the Nexus 7, Nexus Q and made Android 4.1 Jelly Bean official, I felt mostly indifferent. The Nexus Q seemed quite nice but sorely overpriced due to its "Made in U.S.A." branding. And Jelly Bean was nice improvement over 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) thanks to Project Butter, offline speech input and Google Now. But it was, at best, a very incremental update.
The Nexus 7, however, didn't strike me as awe-inspiring or threatening to any part of the saturated tablet market – save for the Kindle Fire, which is arguably an e-reader on steroids. Sure, the processor that powers the Nexus 7 is impressive, the display is nice and the design and build quality are phenomenal. Not to mention, the price. Interested customers could purchase a high-end tablet, directly from Google for $199 to $249.
But I have used several compact-sized tablets before to many mixed feelings inside. The original Galaxy Tab was a strange device. Its interface worked more like a smartphone interface, but the device was too big to fit in a pocket. I also tried several Archos tablets to no avail. Oh, and there's the Kindle Fire that I used for a short while before it started collecting dust.
Just days before the Nexus 7 announcement, I wrote a piece titled 7-inch tablets are just awkward to use. They're too big for most people's pant pockets, yet too small to justify carrying a backpack for. It's too big for one-handed use, but too small to type on normally in landscape mode. In other words, if you're going to carry a backpack, why not just splurge for a 10-inch slab? The 7-inch tablet form is mostly for entertainment while 10-inch tablets can be for a little bit of entertainment and productivity.
Just shy of a week after receiving my Nexus 7, I wrote a review and had mostly good things to say about the ASUS and Google co-branded tablet. It performed like a dream thanks to the Tegra 3 chip with 12-core graphics, the display was nice and crisp and the design and build quality were out of a $200 tablet's league.
Even at the end of the review period, however, I couldn't shake one detail: the Nexus 7 is a tablet that is hopelessly confused about whether it's a tablet or a smartphone (without a wireless radio, of course). I called the default 7-inch Jelly Bean interface a confused, bi-polar hybrid. Many applications that display as multi-paned tablet applications on 10-inch devices revert to the smartphone interface for the Nexus 7, even Google's own apps such as Google Reader (note the picture above). In portrait mode, even Gmail displays as a single-pane interface on the Nexus 7, whereas it's still a two-pane interface for 10-inch Android tablets in portrait.
After the review, I had no idea where a 7-inch tablet would fit into my life. I imagined it would be thrown into a drawer and start collecting dust. Surprisingly, just a week later, I found myself still using the Nexus 7, primarily for all of my entertainment needs: Netflix, gaming and watching YouTube videos. But I still used my iPad for writing articles, tweeting and browsing the Web.
That lasted for about a month before, like I had anticipated, the Nexus 7 was thrown into a drawer and all but forgotten. It was in the upper right drawer of my desk and I would catch myself opening the drawer to look at it, but would never actually pull it out and use it. I didn't feel like I should have used the Nexus 7 over any of my other devices, such as the new iPad or my bevy of phones.
This weekend, however, all of that changed. I woke up on Sunday, powered on the Nexus for the first time in over two months and started updating all the apps, deleting the old ones I no longer wanted to needed and downloaded the new purchases from Google's recent 25 billion downloads milestone sale. Ever since then, the Nexus 7 has hardly left my side. I've been throwing it in my back pants pocket or jacket pocket and taking it everywhere I go, hopping to and from Wi-Fi networks and using my phone as a hotspot to stay connected.
I've been using the Nexus 7 for browsing the Web, watching videos, playing games, tweeting and even writing articles. In fact, I wrote two articles earlier this week almost entirely from the Nexus 7 in portrait with two thumbs and the stock Android 4.1 keyboard.
Maybe it's from all this Nexus talk that's been going on lately. Or maybe I'm finally getting tired of the iPad. Or I miss the Note so much I'm willing to jump to a small tablet to hold me over until I can buy an LTE Note II. I honestly can't put a finger on it. And I can't figure out why subconsciously I keep reaching for the Nexus 7 over everything else in my arsenal. Being Wi-Fi only and having only a 7-inch display, it's the most limited and unlikely device for me to use. No less, it has become my go-to device over the last four days. And I actually enjoy using it. (Now I only wish it had more storage space, 8GB is not nearly enough.)
Tell me, readers. Are you still using your Nexus 7s? Did yours begin to collect dust for a while, too? Or have you been using it relentlessly since it came in the mail? Sound off below and share your sentiments on the 7-inch Nexus tablet in the comments below.