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Divine intervention: Google's Nexus 7 is a fantastic $200 tablet (arstechnica.com)
199 points by Yoms on July 9, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 154 comments

Google seems to be getting all of the credit, yet the device's manufacturer, Asus, has consistently made the best Android tablets all along.

The Transformer tablets have all enjoyed an excellent build quality, great design aesthetics, and cutting edge hardware. They aren't perfect, but what tablet is?

As Doug Fisher said at JavaOne, "hardware without software just generates heat".

Asus can make great hardware all day; but without the right marketing and the right software, it will never be successful.

Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) is the first arrival of a real competitor to iOS in my opinion.

Google floundered about quite a bit trying to get the UI right (honestly, it seemed like they were ignoring it completely for a while); and 4.0 and 4.1 are the first versions I've used that feel "right". I'm actually pretty torn between iOS and Android at this point from a user / developer standpoint.

Although Apple still has the better developer tools for now.

Although Apple still has the better developer tools for now.

I agree that the supporting tools like Instruments are much better and Android doesn't have anything to compare to Interface Builder but the better Java IDEs like IntelliJ are so far ahead of XCode that it's not even funny.

Things are going to get interesting if Apple really does release a 7" tablet. I don't think they're going to get away with just scaling down iPad apps. Maybe that's why they were emphasizing the new dynamic layout stuff at WWDC this year? Manually positioning three completely different UI layouts for each app isn't going to be much fun.

I dislike Xcode 4 as much as anyone else, but I was watching WWDC sessions today (and yesterday) and it seems that they've fortunately improved Xcode, LLVM and LLDB a lot.

The new LLDB is almost 20 times better than anything GDB could hope to be. Xcode 4 is pretty, but gets a zero mark on usability (you have to do a lot of things by mouse). Xcode 4.5 has been vastly improved usability-wise. If they keep up their work, I'm sure Xcode could finally be a decent and usable IDE, rather than just being pretty.

I love XCode, much prefer it to Visual Studio and especially Eclipse, which is just awful.

Just for curiosity is XCode able to support C and C++ as good as Eclipse CDT does, and without crashing every few hours?

Xcode 4's C++ support is actually pretty good. It supports most of the C++11 features. It still crashes on me pretty often but it's much better than it was.

In fact, C++ is just about the only reason I still use Xcode for actually writing code. My apps that don't need C++ are all written in AppCode.

However, AppCode's C++ support is also improving so it may not be that way for long.

I am surprised you put up with an IDE that crashes.

What stops you from using Appcode in your c++ projects?

I think that's why I don't care about IntelliJ; I'm primarily a C/C++ developer. I also have a strong aversion to buying development tools.

XCode 4's tight integration with LLVM, a Debugger, online documentation, and code completion are the reasons why I use it instead of something else.

Eclipse is satisfactory for Java development though, so I'll probably be happy enough with it when I do Android work.

There is an IntelliJ based IDE for iOS development: http://www.jetbrains.com/objc/

I think the dynamic UI layout is more for the iPhone 5 which based on rumours will be longer than the current iPhone e.g. 320x600. The iPad Mini is expected to be 1024x768 so all iPad apps will work without any changes needed.

AppCode is definitely much better than XCode. I'm using it right now, in fact! Jetbrains has done a great job with it.

But IntellIJ is still much more powerful. It's much much easier to build really powerful refactoring tools for a language like Java than it is for Obj-C.

As Doug Fisher said at JavaOne, "hardware without software just generates heat"

The same has been said for functional languages without side effects: "A purely functional programming language is only good for heating your computer." -- Rich Hickey :)

Actually, you don't need to execute it at all if there are no side effects. You might as well turn the machine off and save all the electricity.

Heating your computer is a side effect.

For full documentation on this effect, please see the Haskell Heat-Monad package.

In the book Permutation City, people are just able to upload a copy of their brains into a computer. But the simulations are so big that they run slowly. So a billionaire not only uploads a copy of his consciousness, he also runs a massive optimization routine on it! After a few years of chugging along, the optimizer spits out an empty file and reports: "This program has no output."

Yes, but this article (and others of its ilk) aren't saying that Google software and ASUS hardware together make a great device. Instead the storyline seems to be that only Google, Apple and Microsoft can make great hardware, even in this case when it's mostly a re badge of a previously announced product.

Hardware running Java generates a lot of heat too ...

Same thing for Crysis ...

The build quality has been nice, but the software has been horrible. The TF101 has had major stability problems ever since the ICS upgrade. The TF201 has had simlar issues, from what I understand.

Hopefully Google's involvement in the Nexus 7 release will remedy this.

I know its only one data point but my TS201 has never given me any stability problems. Not only that its so well built and the integration with the dock is so smooth it has actually replaced any need I have for a laptop.

Another datapoint: my Prime hasn't had any major problems, though I have had two issues, both due to the Tegra 3 drivers (or so forum posts have led me to believe).

These issues are very rare though, perhaps once a month, and are fixed with a reboot.

So I count that as stable.

Yet another datapoint: I've had a Transformer Prime for ~6 months and haven't had any issues. It's a wonderful (and severely underrated) tablet.

Transformer Prime rocks. Sometime (like once a month) the screen flickers a bit, you reboot and no more. The rest of the time, this tablet is just awesome.

I have the new iPad. Screen resolution absolutely rocks. However, about once a week, I lose WIFI and need to reboot to recover it. All devices have their gremlins... A week of operation is not too bad.

My TF101 also suffered stability problems after the ICS upgrade.

But I'm the kind of guy who roots, install via ZIPs from XDA and all that stuff. Even if the guy who packaged the ICS update insisted on it being untouched stock, except pre-rooted, it's hard to know 100% certain if the error is Asus' or not. At least there are other possible sources of errors.

That said, ever since I moved my TF101 over to a CM9 codebase, I've had zero issues with it, and it has finally become the tablet I thought it would be when I decided to purchase it in the first place.

Yes. I know. My grandma is never going to do all that. I'm not suggesting that.

But if Google can get the software on this thing right, out of the box, like they've done with the Nexus-phones, I'm pretty sure this thing can fly.

My g/f uses our ICS TF101 a lot (1-3 hrs each day), with no stability problems that I'm aware of. Can't see her go for a smaller screen though, as - like others - it's used as a laptop-replacement for the most part.

I love my Transformer, but I have the dreaded stability problem. I get continual reboots, but only when it is asleep, plugged into the keyboard dock.

The ease that is worked around (unplug it from the keyboard at night) means it is more of an inconvenience than a big problem (for me anyway).

I believe it can be fixed by putting CyanogenMod on it anyway.

Google pushing to sell at cost helps make the case for me to get a Nexus 7. The Transformer line was nice, but priced too closely to the iPad for it to catch on with the general public. This wasn't as much of a problem for Android phones because the iPhone wasn't available through many carriers early on whereas people that buy tablets with cellular data are in the minority.

Google's biggest fail point is support. What happens if the device needs service?

Google did a terrible job at servicing (customer service) their phone. Trust me, an email address isn't enough. People want to call someone. And people want to take it someplace to get it fix or swapped out. The same day. A tablet/phone isn't the same as a PC. No one wants to overnight their phone for a replacement next week. ;)

I've recently dealt with Google service for a Galaxy Nexus. They're trying to be better, but they're still basically failing and some pretty basic things. Hopefully they can fix their shit though. Some failings I observed:

1/ They're doing the "call me" support feature, which is one awesome thing that Apple support does. Google, however, doesn't seem to understand what problem is being solved here, so they implement the feature without solving the problem. I file my issue online, click "call me back" and within seconds my phone is ringing. Then I'm waiting on hold for 10 minutes until a Google support specialist can talk to me.

2/ They've apparently got multiple tiers of support people who are working out of silos that don't communicate very well together. The person you talk to on the phone apparently can't really do much except for file a ticket, which gets shipped off to a higher level of support who you can't communicate with. And apparently the lower-level people can't communicate with them either. In my case I thought my Galaxy Nexus had been stolen from my front porch (UPS insisted they delivered it, but it wasn't there).. the next day I learned that they just delivered it to the wrong house, and I got it. But by then I had talked to someone at Google who filed a ticket to level-2 support to ship me out a new Nexus and to remote-disable the one I now have. When I called them back to try to cancel this whole thing they couldn't even comment on the ticket they sent to level-2.. they can only file another ticket asking level-2 to not disable my Nexus and hope level-2 gets that one before they get the first ticket.

This post made me crack up. Especially the "call me back" feature. That's so bad it's hilarious. At least you have some good new smalltalk subjects now.

I was assured that I would get a response from the level-2 support, and so far I haven't. This makes me assume that they still have two tickets open on my account, one that says "remote-disable this device and ship him a replacement" and one that says "you know that other ticket that says to remote-disable his device and ship him a replacement? Cancel that." I've got a Galaxy Nexus that is all setup, but which might be killed at any moment depending on how things work at Google support. Based on my experience so far, I have no reason to expect this to go the way I want it to. :)

I totally agree with this. I wouldn't say it's just about customer support but about customer relations. Whenever I walk by the Apple store, there are so many people in there that you can barely walk around. A lot of them are there for help/support. They know they can just walk into an Apple store and get face-to-face help. They can get their problem solved right there. This is a huge boon for non-tech savvy people. They trust that Apple will fix it for them in a timely fashion.

It's an ASUS branded device, so I assume you would call ASUS...

I would hope not. Before you know it all they would say is "It's Google's software, so call them".

Also, consumerlaws in the EU make it clear that the company you buy from is responsible for quality, guarantees and support.

That's silly. If you buy a phone from Media Markt you aren't going to Media Markt for support, you're going to HTC, Apple, Samsung or whoever made the phone.

Personally, I first go online to see whether I can find a solution or more info about a problem, but I think that is an approach typical for the more technically inclined types. 'run of the mill' consumers, I think, will directly call the shop where tey bought stuff. I do not think they will call whoever made the phone, if only because they often do not know how to do that.

Yes, there are cases where one can register a product with the producer and get a guarantee that way, but even then, EU law is clear: the buck stops at whoever sold you the device.

So, even then, I would be inclined to contact the seller earlier than the producer because, in the end, if you buy form Q, Q is the only one who has an obligation to help you. In this case, If I were to buy from Google, and things didn't work as expected, I would contact Google. They cannot hide behind "but we bought it from X". If they could, consumers would typically get no support at all. For example, X would say "it looks like the battery is the problem. That is not ours; we bought it from Y"; Y would say "I don't know. Maybe it's the controller chip? Z made that"; Z would say "we outsourced the software for that chip" or "no, it's not the chip, it must be the chemicals in the battery/the device getting too hot due to incorrect firmware in some other CPU", etc.

In the past, Nexus devices have been supported by Google, not the manufacturer. Fortunately, Google has gotten better at customer support recently. They finally figured out that customers want phone support, not email.

It's funny because I absolutely hate phone support. I can't think of anything I'd rather not do than call someone on the phone. Email is comparatively excellent.

I had a major issue with my Nexus One. I called, they suggested a reset, after the reset didn't fix it they sent me a replacement immediately. The entire process was as painless as can be. The support rep seemed knowledgeable and reasonable. Unlike when I called Dell a few weeks again - nightmare!

Forget calling people.

Open a store. Have an online booking system. When someone comes in after booking a time, have staff with some basic training go through a list of things to get a rough diagnosis. Give the customer an estimated repair time and cost. Simple things should be replaced on the same day.

That's how you do it.

"Paired with a keyboard, the Nexus 7 could easily serve as a mobile work solution just as the iPad can."

I'd really like to believe this (and thus justify getting one), but I can't picture it. How would one prop up the screen? What keyboards are available and are they any good?

I feel like Apple has reached a local maximum with the iPad as a consumption-oriented device and I'm just waiting to see who delivers the first tablet geared towards getting things done. MS appears to be promising this with Surface, but it remains to be seen how successful they are.

To anyone on HN who has used an Android tablet for productivity purposes (writing, coding, etc), how has it gone?

I'm writing this with my 10.1 Android tablet and a bluetooth keyboard. As I do with most of my HN posts. I would code with these if there were a good IDE for Android. That's one of my dreams. I'm not sure what you mean with "prop up the screen"? You just pair the keyboard via bluetooth once, then it automatically works if you turn it on. You just touch on a text input and start typing. I have a Motorola laptop sized android specific keyboard that has android specific keys (home, search, back etc). But any PC bluetooth keyboard works. There's literally thousands of them, any regular desktop keyboard works. Most of the limitation comes from apps, there aren't enough productivity apps for most people's need. (I guess a blogger wouldn't mind, but as a developer, I need more than just android. But the keyboard is great vs having just the touch screen. I can't seriously write a whole paragraph with just touch.

A keyboard is a must have for anyone with a tablet imho. But maybe it's just me, I can't take touch keyboards seriously. How the hell do you guys live without arrow keys?

Thanks for the reply. By "prop up the screen" I actually meant angling the device itself like a laptop. I understand the iPad's case allows this and the upcoming Surface provides a kickstand.

With regard to IDEs, I'm not really familiar with Android and I naively assumed that one would readily be able to install native Linux apps like vim, but Googling around I discovered this is not trivial. That's a shame.

Terminal IDE (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.spartacusr...) goes a long way towards making Android a good dev environment, although I personally prefer using Complete Linux Installer to automate a chrooted Ubuntu install (needs root though, obviously) (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.zpwebsites...).

I just use a case I bought from amazon to angle my tablet for typing. It works pretty good.

The big problem of using Android for serious work is mostly software, not hardware. You can use pretty much any great keyboard you'd want. But the software is still lacking some features you'd expect from a linux desktop. For example, you can't just ctrl-z at every app. It's kind of inconsistent, some apps don't support keyboards at all. I stopped using Firefox on android because it sucks with a keyboard. If you really, really want to do serious work on a tablet, I'd dual boot linux like others recommended.

So in the hardware side, tablets are already pretty good for working. But android still lacks a bit. But if you already own an Android tablet, then buying a keyboard is a must-have imo. It will enable to do thinks you only dreamed of before.

If "a mini-laptop with better battery life" is what you are after, then you should look at an Asus Transformer - it is perfect for that usecase.

If you think you'll use the keyboard occasionally, then choose a tablet stand that suits your style, from EBay or http://s.dealextreme.com/search/tablet+stand

> A keyboard is a must have for anyone with a tablet imho

That is called a laptop

Seems like we've gone an awfully long way in the evolution of tablets just to arrive at another sort of laptop. But of course the comparison isn't totally fair. I can't take the screen off my actual laptop, and the hardware in my laptop annihilates any existing tablet.

AIDE allows coding on Android: http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aide.ui

Although, of course, being as full featured as Eclipse is a long way off, I imagine.

You can run Eclipse in headless mode and “just” add Android/touch friendly UI on top. No idea if porting Eclipse to Android’s sandbox is actually feasible, but you could certainly run it on desktop/home server over a low-latency network.

Do you know if CTRL and ALT work on bluetooth keyboards? My perfect IDE is only a SSH session away but I've heard that CTRL and ALT are not supported in Android and without those EMACS is pretty useless.

I use Better Terminal Emulator on my Galaxy Nexus and it has support to map CRTL and ALT to several different keys. You can also map the arrows, which is handy if you are using it on the phone with no physical keyboard.

CTRL works fine on my Transformer keyboard - I use it in SSH all the time.

I'm not an EMACS user, so I can't comment on ALT.

Which SSH app are you using? I find I have to tap for ctrl in connectbot, it drives me mad.

Which keyboard are you using?

If a company really wants to get serious about a tablet designed for productivity, they will make one with an 11.6" or a 12.1" screen. 11.6" seems to be the smallest device size that you can attach a usable keyboard to.

I understand that no one wants to risk making larger tablet, out of a fear that it will be too heavy, but each generation has brought us thinner, lighter devices. I'd gladly take an 11.6" screen over the current standard of 9-10 even if it added an extra couple of ounces.

I have an Asus Transformer TF101, with a 10" screen. I can type at ~65 WPM on it. That's about 10 WPM slower than on a desktop keyboard. As far as I am concerned, that is perfectly usable.

Having said that, at least one Android maker has built one with a 13" screen.

I've tried out the TF101 and the newer Prime at Best Buy, I also owned one of the earlier Asus Netbooks the EEE PC 901. I've also used a couple of iPad keyboard cases.

My hands are too wide to set all of my fingers on the home row in a natural typing position, so I was forced to look at the keyboard and to use a hybrid-touch / hunt and peck method on all of these devices. For this reason, I personally don't find them usable. I don't think my hands are freakishly large, so I think that many other people would have this same issue.

I looked around for the 13" tablet. I had never heard of it before but apparently it's a Toshiba.


There are some applications that a much bigger form factor would be appropriate. Even a 15" or 17" would be good, with the understanding it is not a walk-and-use device.

My dream Apple tablet would use the iSlate trademark for 20" tablet (3x4) with optional tools that communicate with the iSlate. Something like a fake airbrush that acts like a real airbrush in paint programs. Not going to happen, but it would be an amazing canvas.

There are some pretty nice case/keyboard combos for iPad. I see no reason why they can't also be made for the Nexus 7.

I'm sure wireless keyboard makers cant wait to make it into the 'people who buy hardware sold without profit' market. ;)

There are pleny of decent bluethooth keyboards that should work with any tablets out there. http://www.rapoo.com/showdetails.aspx?P_No=E6300 for example

>I'm just waiting to see who delivers the first tablet geared towards getting things done.

This sounds like the domain of ultrabooks. With a tablet, you can't use the huge ecosystem of PC software. You can't run VMs. Peripherals aren't as well-supported.

The main advantage of a tablet over an ultrabook is that you can use it standing up. But if you're getting things done, it's probably going to be sitting down.

Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of tiny laptops. I got the 11" Air when it first came out and never looked back.

I write on my ASUS transformer. It's not quite as nice as a real computer - I'd never choose to write on it at home - but it's good enough; I did a full nanowrimo on it.

Plugged in a physical keyboard in mine, then unplugged it when I realized there was no way to make the tablet use the Colemak keyboard layout for it.

I use the compact TypeMatrix USB keyboard which can switch to hardware Colemak using a hot key. When I plug it into my Android tablet I can type Colemak with no issues. The keyboard was an ideal size for taking on the plane yet full featured enough that it is my main desktop keyboard.

Can anybody comment on when us regular folk will be getting our hands on the Nexus 7 if we pre-ordered it? (Other than 2-3 weeks)

Bloggers get to have all the fun...

I'm curious when us regular folk in Italy will be able to get our hands on them. I'm debating having it shipped to the US and then bounced over here...

Just wanted to say, in case the author hangs out here, that I very much enjoyed her writing style. Very funny and informative.

I thought she was really cute, too.

The author says that Chrome won't come pre-installed to JB devices if the manufacturers don't want. If that's so, that's pretty dumb. Google should force manufacturers to get Chrome together with the Play Store and Gmail. This will actually improve the situation of the web browsers on Android because Google plans on updating Chrome every 6 weeks on Android as well.

On the other hand, the developers at Google I/O said it will come pre-installed on JB, so I'm confused:


I didn't know clicking the Google Play icon and typing "Chrome" and clicking "Install" was that hard to do on a tablet.

Also, stock browser on Jelly Bean is stupidly fast. In fact so fast that I have ditched Chrome for it. Only thing I miss is the Chrome-sync against my desktop, but I can live without that.

From a web dev's point of view, what matters is the defaults as that's what most people will be running. It would be great if we could target a large audience using the most capable rendering engine.

Also - any numbers on stock vs Chrome on Jelly Bean? A score from here would be cool too: http://html5test.com/

Stock JB: 281+3. Chrome: 369+11.

Chrome has too high startup time for me to use as a default browser though.

> The keyboard is not quite as snappy as the rest of the Nexus 7 experience. It seems to occasionally miss letters, or have to catch up after a series of letters are typed, especially right after waking.

Sorry, that's unacceptable. Small UI hiccups are death by a thousand pinpricks, in my view.

On a related note, I think people vastly underestimate how much UI responsiveness is responsible for Apple's continued success.

I get how important this is, but in my (admittedly limited) experience with an iPad, it had its fair share of UI hiccups too. I used one at an airport lounge to browse the internet for 20-30 minutes, and the Mobile Safari browser had basic scrolling issues that I haven't experienced on my Transformer Prime.

> At 216 pixels per inch, it's no The New iPad™, but the density is close to the recently-released retina MacBook Pro.

Okay Ars author, while the Nexus 7 screen looks fantastic, I don't know what you were thinking as this sentence above doesn't make any sense. There's no point in comparing a tablet's DPI to a laptop's DPI†, especially in that way. It makes it sound like one is really wanting the thing to be Retina when it is not, and that actually detracts from the fact that it looks like a great screen nonetheless.

†The closer I use my laptop is (give or take a few inches) the farther I use my tablet.

To me, your sentences make no sense. What do you mean by "The closer I use my laptop is (give or take a few inches) the farther I use my tablet"? Why shouldn't we compare the DPI of a laptop to a tablet?

The distance I use my tablet is not the same I use my laptop, and the first one is always shorter than the second one: tablet is used at most at arms length, while laptop is at least at arms length.

You can't compare DPI as is, because viewing distance has to be taken into account before one can make sense of that value A proper, directly comparable unit would be the size of a pixel in arcseconds (which would carry the device's own typical viewing distance). Here's Phil Plait (of Hubble fame) explaining the stuff [0].

[0] http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/06/10/re...

I'm trying to imagine how you go about using a laptop from more than an arm's length away, but all the mental images just make me giggle.

I agree that there is a minor difference in viewing distance between a laptop and a tablet, but I think they're still comparable, in contrast to, say, a TV.

A lot of people use their laptops on a dock of some kind, with an external keyboard.

If "a lot" == "a tiny minority", then yes.

"Selling hardware cheap—in hopes that more money can be made elsewhere—is not a new game." This has been my thought all along regarding this tablet. I wonder if it actually cost Google more than $200 to build.

If you read the article, they point out that Google has stated they're basically selling the unit at their cost. (That is, likely how much Asus charges them.)

Technically Nexus devices have always been "at cost" to Google, since it's the OEM who gets the profit off the hardware sales in exchange for Google controlling the experience. So Rubin's statement about "selling through" the Nexus 7 actually says very little since that's always been the case. The real issue (and what the media is mostly missing) is whether ASUS is selling it at a loss or not, and considering the Memo the Nexus 7 was refactored from was originally going to be sold at $250, it seems unlikely.

ASUS has not incentive to sell at or below cost as they don't get a cut of the Play sales.

I was wondering about that too, you sure?

I think they might. Carriers get part of the 30% share of Play sales if you have a cell phone, but I don't know who gets that for WiFi tablets. OEMs getting it is certainly one possibility (Google keeping it is another, of course). There's similar revenue sharing for some of the search traffic as well, IIRC.

Interesting to compare AnandTech's benchmarks:


Unless Google has a magic PDF reader, reading PDFs on it is going to suck. Other than that, I think the 7 pads work.

I wonder about a 7.7" screen vs 7" screen for PDFs. Here is the same Google Books PDF (they are image scans of books, so no reflow) on a 7.7" and 7" screen:

Galaxy Tab 7.7 (1280x800): http://mikecanex.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/techfondle04121...

NookColor 7" (1024x600): http://mikecanex.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/gbpdfs002.jpg

I don't own either of those -- or any. I'm still undecided on which would be best. [typo edit]

I tried using my Nook Color as a PDF reader for textbooks and other technical publications. In short, it didn't work very well. For an illustration & diagram heavy text, the Nook Color was too slow (the Tab 7 would probably be fine) in rendering pages, and the screen was too small to show much of a page. So I upgraded to a 10" Transformer and had a much better experience.

So depends on what your PDF is like. For basic text, the 7 inch screen was fine. For technical papers, you'll probably want something bigger.

What's wrong with ezPDF? IMO the best pdf reader out there on mobile, beating the now overbloated GoodReader on ios

I think OP is trying to say that 7 inch tablets are less than optimal for reading PDFs, not that the software isn't there.

I think I'd have to agree with OP on that one because for a month, I had to read a 2 column PDF on a 10 inch tablet and that strained my eyes to do. Would a one-column PDF have worked? Yeah, it would have, but I think just barely. I can't imagine reading a one-column PDF on a 7 inch tablet (I hate scrolling unless it's to change pages), much less a two-column one.

Have you tried RepliGo Reader? I bought it back in the day for my G1 and have been using it ever since. It's magic enough to be able to get CS papers to be mostly-readable on my phone (with their special "Reading View"), so I'd expect it to do well on a 7-inch tablet.

I've actually never heard of that! I'll look into it right now, thanks!

I was looking for PDF solutions months ago, but if this works well, it could come in handy in the future.

Are you talking about the size? Both Adobe Reader and ezPDF Reader have text reflow, though.

Does Chrome not open PDFs?

I read PDFs on my Xoom tablet all the time with QuickOffice Lite. It works fine.

yes, but the Xoom is a 10 inch device.

Discretely tucked away near the end of page 4 (emphasis mine):

"Unlike iOS and previous versions of Android, Jelly Bean’s speech recognition system doesn’t have to relay snapshots of the user’s recorded speech input to a remote server for processing. Speech recognition can now be done entirely on the device."

Why are they running benchmarks on a tablet?

Why not? It's a decent way to ascertain how powerful a device is. (Although maybe not Linpack -- it doesn't really correlate to real world performance, in my experience. Vellamo or Quadrant would be better, but they don't have iOS equivalents, IIRC.)

In case you have been living inside a barrel for the last few years, there's an all-out performance war in the mobile system-on-chip space going on at the moment. Phone and tablet manufacturers pretty much expect everyone to be pushing out a new chip every 6 months and there's a huge fight over who gets the most design wins the next generation.

The fight is not only about !/$, it's more and more about !/W these days.

Benchmarks are also relevant to customers who like games or other heavier stuff on their tablets. Then there's a bunch of low-end Android tablets that are simply too slow to be used for anything. So the high-perf tablets and phones want to distinguish themselves from that.

The nexus 7 will be sabotaged by google's crappy customer service.

I bought one at 10:37 am the morning they were available. It's 11 days later and there's no communication and no status on when it will ship. For status you are instructed to click through to google wallet. That site also has no status, no expected ship date, nothing. So that's strike one.

Second, I moved this weekend and need to update the billing address for the credit card. The google "contact support" page displays their usual FOAD customer service. You have to click through to yet another page to contact customer support. Of course, they're too incompetent to forward your 37 character order number. So after you compose a message, you realize you have to hit backspace to get the order number. And of course, they clear the message you carefully composed. These people supposedly understand web applications. How the hell does the link from inside google wallet to google customer support not know who I am and my fucking order number?

I still haven't gotten through to customer support and I anticipate spending at least 30 minutes on the phone tomorrow. I'll update, but I imagine that there's another ipad in my future.

This seems like a lot of fuss over 1) an unannounced ship date and 2) a web page that deleted your carefully composed message.

Personal anecdote: I wanted to change the credit card on the order. So I went to the Nexus page[1], clicked "Customer support" in the sidebar, clicked "Managing your order", and called the number they show, 1-855-83-NEXUS. Someone picked up in maybe 30 seconds (and I expected really bad wait times for Google customer support...).

I explained I wanted to change the credit card, and he asked me for my email address + a piece of personal information. He told me he couldn't change the credit card, but could instead issue an order cancellation and I could rebuy the Nexus 7. Not ideal, but I said it was okay (after confirming that they weren't out of stock or anything). He saw that I only had one order on my account, cancelled it for me, and we ended the call. No order number needed; took all of 4 minutes.

Granted, I'm a pretty big fan of Google so I'm definitely biased. And I do agree that Google's customer support sucks. But it's a bit disheartening to see the top comment be such a petty complaint.

[1] https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=nexus_7_8gb...

These petty top comments seem to be the norm around here for any positive Google story.

When has Google or ASUS ever been known for their customer service? I was excited about the Nexus 7 until I saw the giant ASUS logo on the back.


No problem. Just gives the non-biased people a chance to counter the FUD off the top so a real discussion can take place below.

"Unannounced ship date" is not the same as "order shows as 'complete', payment is taken, but there is no information anywhere as to when you'll get your device, or if it has been shipped or not. Is it lost in the post? Stolen? Who knows."

Compare this to Apple, who give you fairly accurate ship dates and tracking numbers once shipped.

Payment hasn't been taken yet. Payment is taken when it ships, and you'll get your tracking number then too.

And yet it shows as "complete" in wallet's history?

Actually it shows 'Your order has been sent to Google Commerce Ltd.'

Play shows 'Completed'. Which I assume to mean "the order has been successfully placed, you'll get the product". If I'm really that unsure I can click on 'info' and be taken to the Google wallet transaction.

I truly cannot see why this is confusing to anyone. Yes it's crap that there is no announced shipping date.

I've seen people get so ridiculously worked up over this, you've pre-ordered it, just be patient. It's already stated that you'll receive an email with a tracking number when it ships. Relax, it's coming.

If I'm really that unsure I can click on 'info' and be taken to the Google wallet transaction.

Which is where you started! It says "Google Commerce received your order". How does that help make you certain? You're stuck in a loop between a site that says another site got your order, while the other site says it is "Complete".

I am mostly sure it's coming. I am relaxed. My original point was that this is not a fuss over an "unannounced ship date". People are fine with those, like they are with Apple's "Ships withn 3-4 weeks".

The OP's "fuss" was that the communication here is terrible, and it suggests that Google hasn't taken on board all the customer services issues that made selling Nexus handsets such a disaster for them.

Wow, you're comparing Apple, a company that has had half a decade or more to setup a decent eStore to Google who has never personally sold devices till a few months ago?

The surprise, shock & horror!

Ever heard of the woes (which is a universal law which affects all businesses at some point) of "early adoption?"

>>>Wow, you're comparing Apple, a company that has had half a decade or more to setup a decent eStore to Google who has never personally sold devices till a few months ago?

And why not? Is the entire process so arcane and mysterious that only Apple can do it? He could have used any other company as an example and probably settled on Apple since it's a top dog right now. But to excuse the incompetency of a multi-billion corporation like Google, which brags about how smart its staff is, is ridiculous. Some things are just so damn basic that not doing them either shows gross negligence or willful stupidity or I just don't know what. Google could have sorted this out well beforehand. There is just no excuse.

This is a cheap cop out. Customer service is a known entity. Dell had better support at a much younger age and with a hell of a lot less money.

Google has been selling devices for years, not months. And, yes, I actually agree it's unfair to compare them with Apple -- but that's what the market will do, and the market doesn't care about fairness.

For $300 I expect order status and a customer service webapp that remembers my info. Amazon, apple, etc all make this happen. Google could if anyone there cared.

But, why? Is the product alone not enough for your money? If you feel so strongly about this, why not wait for it to be released officially before making the purchase?

Indeed. Just buy the thing from Amazon when it comes out.

Why should he expect Google to have the kind of customer service anybody else does? Why shouldn't he?

Google's customer service isn't the issue here. They offered the product for pre-order without making any statements about a shipping deadline. To then turn around and expect them to set one just because you gave them money is foolish.

Google's customer service is the issue here. How a major tech company that focuses on the delivery of data designs a system that can't provide even the most basic of ordering information in 2012 is beyond me. It's what I expect from a small start-up (and even then it would irritate me). Why isn't there an estimated shipping timeline (nothing specific, just what they've also stated in the press, est. 3-4 weeks/subject to change). And why do I have to call to change billing information? I'd expect that from Sears or a behind the times brick&mortar, not the company that has helped define the internet.

I understand there are alot of Google apologists on HN, and Apple get's the lion's share of positive tech press (they also get the majority of negative press too), but they should be pushing Google to be a better company, not insulting first adopters that pre-ordered a Google product.

For $300 I expect...

Good thing it's $200 :)

'it' isn't plural.

Companies with several disjoint business units always seem to end up in this quagmire. My favorite example is this famous email from Bill Gates: http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/2008/06/24/full-text-an-...

Wow! This is a very enlightening and entertaining email.

These two quote stand out for me.

>>I thought for sure now I would see a button to just go do the download. In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve. It told me to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations.<<

>>So I got back up and running and went to Windows Update again. I forgot why I was in Windows Update at all since all I wanted was to get Moviemaker.<<

Funny as hell but very true. A lot of things that I take for granted in the Mac always gives me problems in Windows. Simple things like connecting to the internet either by wifi or ethernet are not always smooth. There is always some obscure setting I have to tweak.

I giggled at:

   So they told me that using the download page to download something was not 
   something they anticipated.

It reminds me of all those support centers that first ask you to key in your account number. Once a person (finally) answers the phone, the first thing they ask for is your account number.

Me: But I already keyed it in! Them: Sorry, sir, but we don't have access to that.

That's do you'll have the details close by. Otherwise the operator is left hanging when you have to go look for information they need.

I've never had that experience with anyone.

And I have, with IBM and Oracle (nee Sun nee StorageTek). Is this a poll?

Odd. I've never not had that experience.

I used to work at the Dell technical support call center. And they used to tell us that customer service is a part of the product. At first it seemed they were taking overboard with regards to customer service.

But our managers made it clear, customer satisfaction came first. Everything else came next. We would even support calls which didn't even have warranty. Sometimes even teach people how to use computers, like practical tutions. Especially to the elderly. We would even make follow up calls to ensure everything was right.

Soon the results showed. I mean Apple fanboys might laugh at us. But we sold more stuff by good customer service and courtesy than apple would have sold by innovation.

> Soon the results showed. I mean Apple fanboys might laugh at us. But we sold more stuff by good customer service and courtesy than apple would have sold by innovation.

Setting aside for a moment that Apple is clearly winning in the sales department, Apple's pretty well known for good customer support.

Yeah, I have no idea what that remark was about. Apple """"""fanboys"""""" laughing about competent customer service? Huh?

I like the intent of your message but the actual details sound suspicious and even wrong. I, too, did some work for Dell contracts (that stuff is sourced out to location) and I can tell you after seeing how that worked I never bought another Dell product and talked everyone I knew out of it as well.

As for your assertion about "Apple fanboys", have you seen how much Apple innovation sells? The last article I saw said Apple makes more revenue from the IPhone than MS makes... full stop.

Innovation sells well and Apple is consistently voted highly on customer service. Odd that you chose to pick on Apple instead of Google who have support so bad that not even Google fanboys try to defend it.

Yeah, I second that. The tablet sounds great, so I placed a pre-order on Jun 28. Never got an estimated ship date then and seeing this post reminded me about it. I checked my order status on Google Wallet just now and it still gives no estimated ship date or any status whatsoever. Sorry, in a world of Amazon and Apple that have this basic delivery status down, this is a failure for Google. I'm hoping it will eventually ship and that it does prove to wow me, but this experience is definitely bad. I'm left to basically hope it arrives someday. If they just said, it'll be 5 weeks or 6 months or whatever, that would be far superior to saying nothing. Setting expectations is a key part of customer service that is missing here.

Never got an estimated ship date then and seeing this post reminded me about it.

Aside from the fact that the order screen has always said ships in two to three weeks?

You either have terrible attention or you're lying.

A $200 tablet isn't for you. I'm serious: You appear to need expensive hand holding. Get an iPad and contact them all you want.

I'm not trying to defend Google here, but they have only pushed the Nexus 7, thus far, to the tech industry. They have been very clear that it is not shipping for two to three weeks. If you're antsy and impatient about it, desperate to see a number counting down, it isn't for you.

I guess my core point is that there are a lot of us who don't need the expensive hand holding. I pre-ordered right once it became available. And then I forgot about it. They don't bill until it ships, so whenever.

That's not "expensive hand holding", it's just basic customer service. Apple does it, Amazon does it, Kmart.com does it. To the best of my knowledge, there is no reputable online retailer that does not do it.

The lack of transparency into Google's ordering process isn't going to the the exclusive downfall of this tablet, but issues like these are clearly something that Google needs to address if they want this tablet to have mass-market appeal.

That's not "expensive hand holding", it's just basic customer service

They said that it would start shipping in two to three weeks. It has been 11 days since the earliest possible orders and already the whining has begun by impatient, the customer-is-always-righteous-in-complaints sorts. Yes, customer service workers answering lines to tell you what you already know are expensive. Why should I bear that cost?

The other complaint is about a billing change -- Google made it very clear on the original order if anything changes to simply cancel the order. Impatient customer doesn't want that, though. They want someone to hold their hand and change details for them so that they don't lose their position in line that they demand a date on even though they know it isn't yet.

Sounds to me what he is asking for, halfway through 2012, isn't unreasonable. Not only isn't it unreasonable, but most large online retailers do just what he is asking, an expected ship date and the ability to revise billing. Why has Google, one of the world's leading tech companies, failed to implement such important and simple features. How much faith am I to have in Google as a retailer of consumer electronics if they can't even get this right? I expected this when I purchased the Nexus One on it's release, but I expect better 2.5 yrs later.

And how asking for these two simple features make him an "impatient, the customer-is-always-righteous" customer is beyond me, unless you happen to be a Google fandroid who believes the company can do no wrong.

Nexus 7 seems to be a great product that many people are excited about, the first truly worthy competitor to Apple's tablet monopoly and why you have to besmirch one such consumer when he points out a weakness in Google's consumer facing service paints you as the self-righteous *ss, not him, imho.

Is this really true? How many "large online retailers" can you name that have been able to pinpoint an exact shipping date months in advance of the actual release of a product? Apple sure doesn't; they get around this by not even announcing a product until they can pretty much release it immediately.

In fact, as far as I can tell, Google is meeting the standards set by the electronics industry. Heck, in the gaming world, I have known people to put in their credit card details and preorder a game that's supposed to be out in six months, and then wait for a full year before seeing it ship.

Yes, for products that have been released already, it would make sense to demand a shipping date. This is not one of those products. They've given him a much better promise than many companies have in the history of not-yet-released electronic items. Once it's been more than three weeks, maybe we can start to wonder.

unless you happen to be a Google fandroid who believes the company can do no wrong

Google does plenty wrong, but that doesn't excuse petty bitchers from groaning and griping about pre-orders of a marketed-only-to-the-tech-industry device. No, I don't expect pre-orders of the Nexus 7 to operate like kmart, and I find the notion rather laughable.

Sounds to me what he is asking for, halfway through 2012, isn't unreasonable

I pre-ordered the iPad 3rd generation the day it was announced. They gave me a rough shipping date exactly as Google has with the Nexus 7. They gave me an actual shipping notice the day it was shipped (actually they kind of faked that and gave me a shipping notice when it started shipments from China which is a supply-chain process that really is irrelevant to me, but whatever). That is essentially the gold standard.

When you pre-order anything from anywhere (or order when it is out of stock) it is the general standard that there is, at best, a rough guess. Exactly as Google did here, and we're still three days before their absolute best promised shipping date. Most sites don't even allow you to order out of stock items because they don't want whining customers crying tears when it isn't expedient.

and why you have to besmirch one such consumer when he points out a weakness in Google's consumer facing service paints you as the self-righteous ss, not him, imho.*

I don't care if the whiner buys it. I am not a Google "fandroid" (jesus...seriously? Engadget ban you?) and I don't care whether someone hops on the train. But honestly I find that sort of self-entitled "where is my shipping date!" bullshit draining and annoying.

I don't feel it's petty to want what in 2012 should be basic information, obviously you do and in that our opinions will differ. I also didn't realize it was only marketed to the tech industry, I must have crossed over from the regular internet to the tech internet by mistake. Do you have to put in your tech credentials when you order? Otherwise how do they keep nubes like me from ordering?

In my experience ordering popular products, when I check back on placed order's not yet shipped, the estimated ship date gets updated (Apple and Amazon both do this). So while new orders may continue to show a 2-3 week ship date, an early order might show 1-2 days. I believe this is what he is asking for. Seems as popular as this product is they are probably back-ordered before they've shipped the first batch. If they aren't updating then the question begs why not? (At least for me and the original poster, you apparently don't care if they ship this today or next year). Is it too much to ask for up-to-date information or when I use Google search should I expect results that were only relevant 2-3 weeks ago? Again, this is Google we are talking about, some of the smartest people on the planet working for a very wealthy corporation. Why can't I expect world class customer service? Is that beyond their means?

Engadget hasn't banned me yet, but then again I don't ever recall posting there. You seem experienced with this internet thing, what should I post to get banned there and what are the advantages of being banned from Engadget (other than no longer having the desire to post on Engadget)? Can I reach Engadget through the regular internet or do I need access to this tech industry internet that you use?

When I see insanity such as this, I never imagine there is someone who would go so far as to defend it.

But, now I know better.

Google Play device orders can't even be cancelled by the purchaser. Not even within 5 minutes of placing the order. The reason I had to cancel it was because they declined my card which I'd been using forever through Google Wallet. Furthermore, they give no reason for the decline (which turned out to be that AmEx needed to authorize the purchase.)

I had to do a phone call with them to get it cancelled. Worst purchasing experience ever!!

"The nexus 7 will be sabotaged by google's crappy customer service."

Dream on. This is just how the Nexus 7 is being sold right now. Best Buy, Future Shop, and Amazon are already putting in their orders and will sell the vast majority of these devices. Google will be a bit player in the Nexus 7 market and their customer service for better or worse will be a non-issue as far as how well overall sales go.

Worst purchase experience ever.

First, they declined my card which I've been using with Google Wallet forever. Then, they didn't tell me WHY they declined it. So, I go and update the info (which didn't need updating) and place another order. Declined again.

Now I have 2 pending transactions showing in Google Wallet and there's NO WAY of cancelling the order from Wallet or Play. So, I have to call their stupid call center and get them to cancel both orders.

I'm not even sure that I want one of these things now.

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