Google Nexus 10 Tablet: First Impressions

| John Martellaro's Blog

The Nexus 10 tablet is Google's biggest and boldest tablet. It has amazing resolution and technical specifications. I've been testing one for a few days, and here are my first impressions.

This article is not a product review. I'm not going into technical specifications, OS issues, or the competitive aspects of the product. It's also not part of the eBook and eReader series. I'll be publishing part 5 of that series next week, focusing on this Nexus 10 and Google Play. This is simply a report on my Out of Box experiences.

The first thing I noticed is how light it feels for its size. It's a bit taller than the iPad 4, but the weight is 603 grams compared to the iPad's 652 grams. It doesn't feel flimsy, however. That density and weight per unit area comes through while still feeling light in the hand.

This Nexus has a soft back that will likely keep it from sliding on a table. It's grippy but stays clean. The stereo speakers are on the front, on each side, and that's very much in contrast to the iPad's mono speaker on the back bottom that can be muffled when resting in your lap.

The set up is very much like the iPad, but the first thing I noticed was the artistic design, the look and feel. It seems the Nexus theme is dark colors accented by blue, and the general feeling I got is that the UI is tasteful and muted. The typography is superb, and there is an attempt, in some places, to make the text appear as if it's floating in black, very much in contrast to iOS where the theme is white, rounded rectangles that collect logical functions in a sea of gray. I liked it a lot.

Here's what the Settings page looks like, and you can compare it to iOS to see what I mean.

Thin blue lines and checkboxes on black are good looking.

One of the nice things about Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean" is that you can swipe down on the upper right to obtain a Quick Settings matrix. It looks like this:

Swipe down on upper right to bring up often used settings.

Another nice UI feature is the vertical ellipsis on the top right that, in context, offers some useful options. For example, if you're in the Chrome browser, it brings up a drop down menu to share or find in page or create a new tab. It's a very explicit, coherent way of doing things with text rather than scattered icons. I liked it for its elegance and extensibility.

That E.T. Feeling

I've sat with the Nexus 10 for long periods of time, downloaded software, emailed screen shots, watched TV shows on Netflix, and looked at Play Books. It's a pleasant experience, but it's more than that.

After having used an iPad for well over two years, the sensation of the Nexus is that it was designed by some very smart people, an intelligent alien mind if you will. It has surprises. It does some things more smartly, more elegantly than an iPad. It has a very crisp, typographic look like the new Twitterrific 5 for iOS. Certain design decisions jump out at you, and you think, wow, that works just fine. I like that.

Slightly taller, slightly lighter.  Battery life depends on use.

As I said, this isn't a review. It takes weeks of discovery and analysis to compare two complex OSes like iOS and Android. The purpose here is to simply say, this is a beautiful, well-conceived product that is easy to handle and fun to use out of the box.

Another thing that comes through is a kind of elegant complexity. Google isn't afraid to reveal things and show you stuff. There's no fear that you'll be visually overloaded. Here's an example of the download page for Netflix. It uses the whole screen and has a lot of information. But it's good information, and it's presented nicely.

Lots of detail on this purchase page.

Not everyone will like all that information, and I'll admit that my reaction is one of welcome contrast rather than any mindful expression of an absolute standard. Different people have different preferences.

This is not competitive analysis. Others have written extensive, competitive analyses, and I will also weigh in after much more testing. I'm here to tell you that, out of the box, handling the Nexus 10, setting it up, emailing, watching Netflix, reading a book, watching Ice Age (it's gorgeous at 2560 x 1600) taking some photos and videos, downloading apps, reading the 157 page guide book with a downloaded Adobe Reader, I had a lot of fun. It's a beautiful and nicely made pure tablet. Most of all, it's different. It's a dark beauty, intensely geeky and intelligent and respectful of the user.

I'm not shy about saying that, out of the box, I like it a lot. But first impressions aren't the whole story, so I'll be moving on to the next stages.

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11 Comments Leave Your Own

Jeremy Jones

This issue is a nonstarter for me:  http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=39879 I have a Nexus 10 and I’m trying desperately to return it.  The frequent freeze-ups even after deleting and re-adding my Google accounts and doing a factory reset are a pain.  And the support I’m getting from Google is not good.

Hari

John Martellaro was born at an early age smile

Todd

Another new tablet released last week is the Novo 10 Hero priced at $225, and is possibly the best 10-inch “price-performance” tablet
available this year - and features a High Resolution 1280x800 IPS screen, 16GB Memory, a strong Battery and Dual Core processor with
Quad Core GPU, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Operating System, Wifi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and an option for 3G/4G connection.

The Hero also offers a MicroUSB port for connection to printers and other electronic devices, a MicroSD Memory Card slot for unlimited
storage (up to 32GB Memory Cards), front and back cameras with a 2 Megapixel rear camera; and has HDMI output, which is a nice feature
to download movies and watch in Full 1080p (HD) on to a large screen TV. It also makes a great gaming device with its high resolution screen and motion sensor.

The site TabletSprint also includes $25 in Bonus Apps with all tablets they offer, and also bundles in free 3G/4G wireless service with
500MB of free data every month, with full internet access & VoIP voice calling—this new model and a few others at TabletSprint are
certainly worth checking out—

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Another thing that comes through is a kind of elegant complexity.

This sums up what I discovered in Android almost 3 years ago. It feels limitless. Try this…

1. Search Google Play Store for some Live Wallpaper. This makes your background come alive. I’m a big fan of “My Beach HD”. There’s also a fun “FishBowl Premium”. Demo versions are fine to play with, paid versions are worth the cup of coffee comparatively.

2. Tap the empty background area in the Launcher, hold for a second. It’ll ask you to choose a wallpaper. Tap “Live Wallpapers”. Find the wallpaper you installed.

3. Back to Google Play Store. Find “Alltock”, get the free demo. I made it a couple years ago. Download it and run it. Put your tablet in landscape mode. You can fiddle with the options by tapping screen for a menu. Set it to be a letter clock. Now you’ve got a full screen clock on a fun live background. Possibilities limitless. I use this and an N7 as a podcast playing clock radio.

I still can’t do this on an iPad!!!

RonMacGuy

WOW.  OMG.  Wallpaper and clocks.  Fun live backgrounds.  Truly limitless.  Beaches and fishbowls?!?!?  Tapping the screen gives you a menu?!?!?  My goodness, it’s a Christmas miracle!!

LOL, sorry.  I couldn’t help myself.

grin

Lancashire-Witch

The most popular apps are games. Is the iPad basically a toy? For amusement only.

RonMacGuy

Really Lancashire-Witch?  That’s a reach to say that because the most popular apps are games that iPad is a toy.

Let’s see, with good old Safari iPad wins with with online purchases - hardly a toy:  http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/ipad-rakes-in-lions-share-of-black-friday-online-purchases

“Apple’s iPad accounted for 88.3 percent of the tablet devices used to make online purchases on Black Friday, according to data from IBM. The iPhone accounted for 8.7 percent of mobile device-based purchases, as well, which still topped total Android devices used at 5.5 percent.”

This would make it seem more like Android devices being for amusement only.  Kind of like those talking about fun wallpaper, clocks, beaches, and fishbowls.  For iPad to account for nearly 90% of Black Friday purchases for all tablet devices is huge!!

I can tell you that my iPad is quickly replacing my laptop at work for one-two day business trips.  Access to all my email, meetings, Skype, etc.  Once MS Office hits the iPad my life will be complete.  After meetings all day, I can go to my hotel room and catch up on the day’s emails, check schedule for tomorrow, Skype overseas for a discussion or two, call home and say goodnight to my girls, and set it to wake me up in the AM.  More and more executives at my company are connecting and using their iPads more and more.  It just makes sense.  Sure I can’t play a podcast as a clock radio, but who the heck needs that?  Maybe techie geeks.  But for a businessman the iPad is worth its weight in gold, and is only getting better and more valuable as time goes on.

Lancashire-Witch

RMG - you’re right. It was a rather hasty comment. After I hit “submit” I realised I should have asked - “Are some tablets basically toys?”.  I’m often amazed by the sorts of things people do on iPads that I see as “playing” - as exemplified by Bosco.

I still find too many limitations in using iPad - It seems gamers are well catered for; but there’s no MS office.

RonMacGuy

L-W, thanks for the acknowledgment.  And I agree with you - there are a lot of limitations in either the iPad or any other tablet.  It’s amazing how far the segment has come since introduction (referring to the iPad introduction, not tablet PCs in general, as those have been around in niche markets for a decade).  But keep in mind that the iPad-type-tablet-segment has only been around for a few years.  Limitations will continue to reduce as time goes on.  Even when they release MS Office for iPad there will be large spreadsheets with pivot tables that I suspect I won’t be able to use very efficiently.  But for basic work the benefit of MS Office would be tremendous.  I really hope MS doesn’t decide to scrap MS Office for iPad given their new focus on their Surface tablets.  If they decide that having MS Office only on Surface is a huge competitive advantage, then we may never see MS Office on iPad.  But, given the hundreds of millions of potential customers now on iPads/iPhones I can’t see MS doing that.

It is true that gamers are catered to, but if you look at the industry-specific uses of iPads like medical, aviation, real estate, government, military, television/radio, education, sales and marketing, and on and on and on. it doesn’t seem that the limitations are too limiting.  The naysayers love to criticize, but the wide-spread use of iPads in nearly all industries in so short an amount of time is truly amazing.  It is so not “declining and mostly irrelevant” it isn’t funny.

Kevin

I ‘m over the moon with the Nexus 10 for three reasons. 1-Deep integration with Google.  If you use GMail, Drive, Calendar, etc, you’re in for a treat with this tablet.  The cloud management makes SO much sense for these services.  In a lot of cases, you can jump straight from one to another, like Drive to GMail for attachments, or from Chrome to YouTube for videos.  It’s seemless, and lets the user have access to the same service and data from any device.  2-Cross App compatibility.  The “Share” button is incredible.  Whether I’m in a File Explorer, the Gallery, Chrome, etc, I can share data in every way possible that I’ve got installed.  If I want to send a Word Doc/pic/vid/whatever, I simply go to it or open it, and then hit share.  Boom, I’ve got 12 ways to share it, and no hoops to jump through.  3-Tasker.  It may seem lame to highlight a single app, but Tasker is AMAZING.  Times, Locations, Situations, I’ve totally automated my experience.  If I’m at work, it automatically turns on silent, changes the screen brightness, and changes the auto-sync.  When I open Maps, it automatically turns on the GPS.  If I plug in headphones, it changes the volume.  When it’s low on battery, it turns off all of the radios that aren’t being used, lowers the brightness, and kills background apps.  It’s truly powerful.

Eric Brown

Its always funny to me when people get sarcastic about the customization of the Android tablets. That’s only an aspect of it, but if you ever use one it goes more than that. It’s not for show..its actually usable.  I like being able to create pop out menus of apps that are related. For example, I stack my games into a pile so that they all pop out when I click that particular icon. Then my productivity apps are all grouped together, and so forth and so on.

I admit, pre 4.0 was a bit of a growing pain…but Android has matured. It’s fast, more intuitive, VERY useful, responsive and the Google integration just makes things SO easy. It’s not just for geeks anymore. And while those customizable features may be mocked…I bet my last dollar that you will soon see Apple follow suite.

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