Consumer Reports (CR) told readers on Thursday to "hold off" on Google's Nexus 7 tablet due to significant issues with the touch screen and intermittent problems with the device's built-in GPS. The magazine said that it was urging caution until those issues are fixed.
The magazine praised the device's display as, "gorgeous, bright screen, the sharpest one we've seen yet in a tablet." It also said that it looked good and sounded good, especially for the price of $229.
But, there's a "but" in there:
It's been widely reported that a few quirks are being encountered by early owners. For one, the touch screen sometimes reportedly 'goes crazy' and misses or repeats touches or keystrokes on the virtual keyboard. On the sample Nexus 7 we bought, we found it impossible to use the Swype method of word entry, as the continuous sliding from one key to the next gets chopped up by whatever the problem is, entering gibberish instead of meaningful text.
For another, some users report that the built-in GPS loses contact with satellites after a short period of operation. When we walked around outside our headquarters with the Maps app on our Nexus (on a sunny day with just a few clouds), it tracked for less than 10 minutes before the map position 'froze' (though the compass direction still updated). The freeze lasted until we restarted the tablet.
You might expect me to be crowing about this, but I'm not. For one thing, Google said on its forums that it is releasing an update that fixes the touchscreen issue, and the GPS issue is not yet definitive. If Google's software update properly fixes the touch screen problem, it will quickly be a non-issue.
The other reason I am not crowing is because many Apple fans were quick to accuse Consumer Reports of having an anti-Apple bias after the magazine vociferously condemned attenuation problems in the iPhone 4, the so-called "Antennagate" problem of 2010.
The magazine also criticized the iPhone 4S, and while it heaped praise on the iPhone 5's camera and called the iPhone 5 the "best iPhone yet," it scored the device below the Samsung Galaxy S III and Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX.
Many of us may have disagreed with the magazine's stance on the iPhone 4, but the magazine has since given Apple top marks in customer service, and really, it has given many Apple products and services its highest recommendation over the years. The publication's treatment of the Nexus 7 shows that its criticism goes wherever it believes it needs to go.
On the other hand, we haven't seen many third party headlines screaming about this. Apple-centric BGR mentioned it, as did Gizmodo and TheStreet.com, but few other publications have taken up the banner.
Had CR found similar problems with an Apple product, there's little doubt that the hue and cry would be deafening. That's not CR's fault, of course, and it's due to the fact that Apple is the mind share leader, especially in tablets, and Apple doesn't make many mistakes. When it does, people jump on it.
It's hard to be the world's most valuable company sometimes.
But the Nexus 7? Google's Nexus tablets are the only Android tablets I would buy, but they still aren't hot sellers. Accordingly, it's not much of a surprise that few are paying attention.