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Quick Nexus 7 Comments By Linus Torvalds (plus.google.com)
185 points by oscar-the-horse on July 21, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 131 comments



> I prefer the plain android look, and dislike the various skins manufacturers have used (I really don't understand the "pee in the snow" model of skinning android to look and act horrible just so that the different manufacturers can make their mark on it - I'm pretty sure the majority of people tend to prefer plain android).

Tablet and smartphone manufacturers are doing this because they are trying to differentiate their devices. With the Android OS (along with Android apps) and the hardware converging to a dominant design (ARM-based processors, similar form factor), tablets will become commodities (Armdroid). Competitors will be forced to compete on price. Their margins will collapse.

This is what happened in the PC market. With the Wintel standard, PC manufacturers had little opportunity to differentiate their products. The OS and CPU are identical, as are the internal components and peripherals. What's left? The color of the case? Fingerprint readers? Ultimately, PC manufacturers were all forced to compete on price. As a result, while Intel and Microsoft earned margins in the double digits, PC manufacturers' margins were squeezed to the low single digits.


Why don't manufacturers compete on quality instead?

I can walk into a store and see the Apple computers on one side and the Windows computers on the other. All the Apple computers look and feel beautiful, but the Windows computers are plastered with stickers and 'Beats by Dr Dre' branding. They're made out of what looks like the cheapest plastic ever. I can understand why Apple is absolutely killing it at the moment - it's because everything else is shit.


Lenovo certainly does compete on quality, it just aims for a different set of quality seekers.

Apple targets people who want their computer to look pretty. Lenovo targets the people who want to get stuff done.

Want to quickly scroll through a document? page up/page down/home/end buttons? Lenovo's got it. Want to change the volume easily and still have access to f1-f12? Lenovo's got dedicated buttons for it. Spill your drink? There's a good chance your drink harmlessly poured out through holes in the bottom (damaging at most the keyboard).

Need more battery life? Buy a second battery and swap them when the first runs out. Need more ram? Just open it up and put it in. Same thing if you want a new HD/etc.

Combine this with great linux support [1] and Lenovo is a clear win for me.

[1] At work we have macbook pros, getting it to work with linux was a disaster.


  > Apple targets people who want their computer to look pretty. 
  > Lenovo targets the people who want to get stuff done.
I'm no Apple fanboy, but this statement's ridiculous.

  > Want to quickly scroll through a document? page up/page down/home/end buttons? Lenovo's got it.
Two-finger inertial scrolling on the amazing glass trackpad. Or, Command-arrow keys. Same effect. Not one-button, but it's not like the functionality isn't there.

  > Want to change the volume easily and still have access to f1-f12? Lenovo's got dedicated buttons for it.
Macbooks have a "fn" key that can be held to modify the function key behaviors, and the unmodified behavior is a Mac OS X Preference option.

  > Need more battery life? Buy a second battery and swap them when the first runs out.
  > Need more ram? Just open it up and put it in. Same thing if you want a new HD/etc.
I feel the need to point out that these are completely valid arguments against the new Macbooks.

I have a Late 2008 Macbook Pro, the first unibody they made, and the only reason it still runs strong is because I've swapped the battery, RAM, and HDD (now an SSD). I love the new Retina Display Macbooks, but I don't know if I can put that kind of money down on a computer that isn't upgradeable. Not when it's my primary mode of earning a living.


I wasn't claiming a macbook can't scroll. I was just claiming that Lenovo has a lot of features that don't necessarily look pretty, but which make it easy to actually use the damn thing on an everyday basis.

Fewer buttons isn't necessarily better nor is it even simpler. The simplest thing in the world is a "do exactly what I want" button for every common value of "what I want". It's not pretty or as easy to market or as pretty, but it's highly usable.

(I'll skip the rant about my iPhone, and how it forces me to waste screen real estate on buttons that come built into Android.)


I agree, fewer buttons does not necessarily make a device simpler. There's a happy medium that I think Android hit with the four-button menu/home/back/search keys. Whenever I use an iPhone anymore I always cache-miss and try to find the hardware back button.


Not every screen needs a back button. You can't hide a hardware back button.

I'm with Apple on this one. The back-arrow button in the toolbar reminds me I'm in a hierarchal app, and the label reminds me what the prior screen was. It's just the opposite for me: every time I use an Android I hunt around the screen for the software back button.


As the hardware buttons are generally lit, you could de-emphasise it by removing the light. I had a Motorola java phone which did just this.

The failure of the Apple hierarchical model is it's app-centric, unlike Android which is activity-centric. In a perfect world we could have software back buttons which worked like Android, but I wouldn't trust developers to implement that consistently.


If there is no place to go back to (i.e., you just opened the app), back takes you to the home screen.

Besides, just as you can't hide a hardware back button, you can't hide the wasted space sitting to the left and right the iPhone's "go home or randomly open Siri" button.


No but you can hide an OS-level software back button, like in any Android 4 phone that doesn't have hardware buttons.


The only time I've ever used a function key (F1, F2) in a Mac application was in Photoshop. Most Mac applications use Cmd+? shortcuts. So in effect, the volume/brightness controls have their own dedicated keys.


I use all 12 of them on a regular basis, except for F2. I just noticed F2 is free, so I bound it to 'revert-buffer, which I use all the time.

A single button works great for a gun. A computer does more things than a gun so it needs more buttons.


Fair enough. Upon investigation, I've discovered there are a fair few OS X official system shortcuts which utilize function keys.

But I think you're an edge case. Apple targets hard the average consumer, and there are plenty (my parents) who don't understand an arbitrary mapping of a number to a function. The self-explanatory icons (the speaker with lots of sound vs no sound, the universal play triangle, etc.) are far more understandable. So why not save space?


Yes, I'm an edge case. I seek out a quality laptop that I can get work done on. That's what we are discussing, no?

As for "saving space", huh? A thinkpad is the same size as a macbook - both are as wide as their screen plus a little extra. The thinkpad is just covered with ugly buttons instead of pretty metallic empty space.


Yes, but you're far more proficient. Those who plug away happily at 30WPM will not share your definition of quality.

I'll take a beautiful product that sacrifices minor functionality (in my case) for aesthetics. My point is not that a MacBook is right for you, but that Apple seems to have rightly assumed that most people don't care about the function keys, and spared the ugly buttons.

In any case, you're probably saving a grand every time you buy a laptop, so maybe the joke's on us.


Yep, as I said upthread: "Apple targets people who want their computer to look pretty. Lenovo targets the people who want to get stuff done."


Though I'm not familiar with the Lenovo trackpads in particular beyond playing with them on display models, the trackpad on MacBooks is a huge differentiator over any of the ones I've had on PC laptops. It works so well you forget how well it's working until you start using a different computer with a trackpad that now feels completely broken.


It's honestly one of the reasons I'm still contemplating getting a new Mac when it's time to upgrade. I've never seen a PC laptop with both a comfortable, large, smooth trackpad and good drivers that provide the kind of scrolling you get with a Mac.


As a Thinkpad user/owner, I don't use a trackpad and do not see a point using a trackpad, when I have trackpoint.

I have the trackpad permamently disabled, because that little red thinkgy among g, h and b keys beats it so badly, it is not even funny.


> Need more battery life? Buy a second battery and swap them when the first runs out. Need more ram? Just open it up and put it in. Same thing if you want a new HD/etc.

This is one of the biggest factors for me in getting a PC laptop over a MacBook. When I buy a ThinkPad, I intend to keep it for 5 years. My friends with MacBooks all replace them every 2-3 years.

> Combine this with great linux support [1] and Lenovo is a clear win for me.

This is another big factor. I tell anyone who's interested in Linux that the best laptop for Linux is a ThinkPad. Everything works flawlessly out of the box.


  >  When I buy a ThinkPad, I intend to keep it for 5 years. 
  > My friends with MacBooks all replace them every 2-3 years.
Yeah that's one of the reasons I don't know if I'm comfortable getting one of the new Macbooks. I mean the Retina Display w/ 16 GB of RAM is lustworthy, but the RAM is soldered into place (thus the need to max it out at 16GB at purchase-time), the battery's glued in place, and the SSD is apparently replaceable but completely nonstandard.

But I'm confused about what to replace it with, and concerned that I'll miss some of the better OS X stuff. Keynote is fantastic for presentations. Never having to worry about hardware compatibility is pretty convenient.


the linux thing is not universally true.

i have installed a few different distros on my w500 over the years, and it runs hot every time. the ati drivers suck, the os can't seem to control the fans properly, and switchable graphics don't work. tried with opensuse years ago, and ubuntu a few times more recently.

i imagine it's better with a nvidia card, and no switchable graphics.


T400 here with same results - with Ubuntu (12.04) it is hotter than with W7, switchable graphics does not work (works in Intel X4500 mode).


> This is another big factor. I tell anyone who's interested in Linux that the best laptop for Linux is a ThinkPad. Everything works flawlessly out of the box.

I wonder what Linus Torvalds uses as a laptop ... Oh noes !!!

http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/19/an-interview-with-millenium...


Of course, what works for the guy who invented Linux might not work for someone who just wants a download/install/everything works Linux setup.


"Everything works flawlessly out of the box."

It has come a long way then.


"Want to change the volume easily and still have access to f1-f12? Lenovo's got dedicated buttons for it."

In preferences, you can set it so Fn+F1 through Fn+F12 trigger the usual features, so that you can still have easy access to vanilla F1 through F12.

Take some time to dig through the preferences menu on OS X, you'll be surprised how configurable things can be.


Lenovo is awesome, except they seem to pride themselves in having the worst displays on the market. It's downright bizarre.


This is kind of a chicken/egg perception problem. The perception is that if you want to buy a "posh" computer you should get a Mac. Therefor Mac=Expensive , PC=Cheap.

This is I guess part of the reason that auto manufacturers will use different brand names for different market segments. Because it's difficult to signal "I am successful and buy nice cars" with a Skoda badge.

An example of a "high end" PC would be Alienware, which whilst they have some nice hardware they just look horrendously tacky. Basically the equivalent of sticking florescent lighting all over your Subaru.

There is also the potential patent minefield if you want to start manufacturing things that look like or use similar materials to Apple devices.


Thinkpads have great quality but I have to say I have not seen any touch pads that come anywhere close to the quality of the ones on a Mac. Luckily I prefer the Lenovo "nipple" over a touchpad but most people hate it and bringing a high quality touchpad to a PC would be a big deal IMO.


> I prefer the Lenovo "nipple" over a touchpad but most people hate it

The problem is that no one gives the TrackPoint a chance. I've seen people who've used ThinkPads for years and have never even touched the TrackPoint. But if you spend about 30 minutes working with it, you'll find that it's superior to both mice and trackpads for 99% of tasks (gaming being the one exception, for which I keep a mouse on hand).


I have to agree. While my current laptop is a Macbook (and inertial two-finger scrolling is awesome), I've been using Thinkpads for years (I actually have two for home use), and nothing beats the Trackpoint. It's fast and efficient, and you don't have to pull you hands away from the keyboard to perform mouse operations. For what it's worth, I even disable the trackpad on my Thinkpads and only use the Trackpoint.


Same here, the first thing I did when I got my ThinkPad was to go into the BIOS settings and disable the trackpad. There's absolutely no need for it once you've gotten used to the TrackPoint.


I find that the nipple requires a little too much pressure (T500), which is a little tiresome. You can be really light to the touch with some touchpads (including simulated clicks.) I'd prefer a nipple more like a touchpad - something like you get on the Blackberries (not the old trackballs.)


You can change the sensitivity in the settings (and of course, there's the usual mouse-speed setting as well).

That said, I have found that some of the newer models have much more sensitive trackpoints than my T60.

Edit: Changing the cap can be useful as well. The concave tip in particular.


I've tried playing around with the trackpoint speed under Xfce, and it doesn't help that much. The pressure needed although not much, is enough to put stress on my upper body.


I run Kubuntu on a W500 and set mouse sensitivity way up:

     xset m 5 1
so that I can move the cursor with a fairly light touch.


You can tweak the pressure and speed


Hah, when I was a kid, I played an fps game using the nipple. It seems impossible, but after a while you do get used to it.

But my fingers did hurt a lot after playing for a few days, so I wouldn't recommend it :)



From what I see they do differentiate on quality. There's a huge range of android devices and they are going to stand out in any way they can -- software is just one more way of doing that.


Furthermore, they are actually doing a great job of this. I've used all flavors of android out there, to be honest, I recently flashed Jellybean on my Evo and sorely miss Sense UI. Tons of subtle little things that Sense gets right that are just plain lacking in Vanilla Android. Just my two cents.


Fully agree. It always amazes me how Sense gets bashed so much. They have really delivered some handy improvements.


Same here. I vastly prefer it to stock android both in looks and bundled functionality.


It's easy in July 2012 for Linus (or whoever) to say "why mess with stock android" as if it's always been as good as 4.1. These layers were built not just for differentiation but for base functionality/gloss that stock eclair/froyo/gingerbread lacked. And try not to be shocked but many users preferred those ui layers and those phones way outsold the stock phones head to head. Also it's vaguely relevant to remember that users are not the primary customer, carriers are and if Verizon couldn't slap their bloatware all over the original droids they might not have pushed it so hard.


This is a nonsensical analysis - there was a single stock phone on the market at any one time, which was always sold unlocked at full-price directly from Google, with little to no marketing.

Compared with the "customized" Android phones which were the subject of international marketing campaigns, deeply discounted with contracts, etc etc.

The notion that customized-UI phones outsold the stock, barely public-knowledge Nexus phones does not in any way imply consumer preference.


I'm primarily thinking of Galaxy nexus vs Galaxy S II for head to head as that's been the first one that's been pushed by carriers.

I suppose the Xoom qualifies here as well though or did you miss the international marketing campaign, massive coverage and then how it sold less units then tabs running gingerbread.

The bottom line is in any of these had really caught fire with real consumers as opposed to the hacker commentariat we'd see a lot more of them.


The Droid 1 was stock, and it was a great phone. I'm sorry Motorola started skinning it.


  > These layers were built not just for differentiation but for   
  > base functionality/gloss that stock eclair/froyo/gingerbread lacked.
Certainly!

But then Android got awesome. 4.0 is good, and 4.1 is great. But manufacturers like Samsung and HTC continue to ship their phones with 4.0 upgrades that aren't upgrades! For example: my brother's Galaxy Note. He recently got the 4.0 upgrade from Samsung, which required him to download software (Kies) from Samsung and leash his phone to his laptop to upgrade. I have no idea why.

Then, we did the upgrade, but he's missing features: the 4.0 panoramic camera comes quickly to mind. The stock dialer and people apps, which are amazing, aren't there. The new in-call UI I believe also isn't there. Seriously, they're shipping 4.0 but holding some of the better UX upgrades back.

He even asked me what the hell was new about his phone. I said I didn't know. The menus look different, some of the UI controls are new, Face Unlock is a cool showoff feature, but besides that he's still running Samsung's diminished-experience crap.


I'm planning to stick CyanogenMod 10 on my Note, so I agree to a degree but I'll point out that I got the ICS update over-the-air despite hearing lots of complaints about needing to use keis (a uk vs us thing?)I also wonder if "normal" people really want the UI of their phone to change radically after an update. I get the feeling that is part of the reason that iPhone remains superficially similar over multiple upgrades.


People chose the Lumia 900 because of the design, not because of the specs and the OS (it used the same hardware and OS version as others 6 months before it, so why weren't they so interested in those?). They also chose the Galaxy S3 because of its (mostly) top notch hardware, not because of its "Nature UX" skin. People also tend to buy the iPhone because of how good it looks.

In fact I think there are 3 main reasons why people buy phones in general, and I'm thinking the mass-market here, not the "smartphone savvy" people, who fight over versions of the OS and new features:

1) price (most people have a price range in mind when they buy a phone)

2) design (most people want to either impress their friends or feel good themselves about using it everyday)

3) hardware quality (reliability, feel, display, camera, etc)

I doubt how the software looks is even in the top 5 priorities for most people. Branding is probably a top 5 one, too. When people think of a company that makes "crappy" phones, they generally don't think about how the software looks or works, but about the hardware, and they tend to also buy on brand, just like with many other types of products because branding offers them a level of "trust" that the device will be "good", and won't break a day after purchase.

So I think there's more to it than your simplified view of the market. Also with your logic, then the Windows Phone OS is dead on arrival because it both forces them to use the exact same looking OS, and even worse, it forces them to use the exact same hardware (pretty much).


However, I do know of three non-technical people who have said they're never getting "an android" again because their [Froyo/Gingerbread] experience was so bad. But as they're on 24 month contracts they have had (and still have) a lot of time for this dislike to grow. I have recommended Windows Phone to the one whose contract is almost up.


Were they using stock android or crappyfied android?

Dont wait 24 months to suggest a windows phone. Suggest they flash a non broken version of android onto their phone.


Why should I go out of my way to fix a broken product? The appropriate response to a phone running broken software is ignore it and buy one built by someone competent. Buying a broken phone only encourages the manufacturer to make more, regardless of what you do with it after they have their $400.


It is not broken. It is old, and not being updated.

If they had bought a windows phone those 2 years ago, they would be saying the same thing about their windows phone.

But i agree that most android vendors suck at updates and should be avoided. But you should avoid their phones just as much when they are running windows.

Really, only Apple is doing this right: you get the full ecosystem experience for at least two years.

Those skinned android are often already six months behind and wont be updated.

But to compare a three year old android phone with a fresh new windows phone is unfair and illogial.


> Suggest they flash a non broken version of android onto their phone

They would have no idea what that even means.


You forgot the upgrade factor. Brands delay upgrades because they need to test their own customized stuff


I completely agree with him on this point. I had a friend ask me to install a Korean keyboard on their HTC the other day (I think it was an HTC One).

On my own phone (Nexus), I just install the Google Korean IME from the markplace and it works fine. But on the HTC device, they've apparently replaced the built-in keyboard with their own thing and it took me about half an hour to figure out that I need to install a complete keyboard replacement (not just an IME) and totally replace the HTC one with this other custom one. In what way does any of this help anyone?


I can understand this reasoning, but is it really the case? In practice does anyone actually stick to HTC or Motorola because of their skins?

I know that the feedback I usually hear has a huge selection bias in this regard (almost all techies) which is why I'm asking the question.

Even considering the selection biased, I'd be surprised if people preferred these skins. I think that people who are aware of these skins, and the options out there, probably don't like them. If they're not aware of them then they can't prefer them, right?


Some do prefer (some) of the skins. There are always active threads about reapplying the skins onto custom ROMS. HTC and Samsung skins are the most popular.


Here's my very quick, nitpicking Nexus 7 review (had mine delivered last Wednesday):

- It's a tiny tiny bit too heavy to hold comfortably. It feels like just a few grams would make the difference.

- The battery life is fantastic. I've used it for hours and hours and it's still on 80-90%.

- Android 4.1 is fast and efficient. I don't notice any difference in speed or usability from an iPad 2.

- The screen has an incredible resolution. Some text is slightly too small to read comfortably.

- (Not that it matters at all but ...) the box it came in was as hard to open as many people have said.

- I bought GTA III with part of the "free" £15 credit and it's a piece of crap. I haven't even managed to play the game yet because it keeps crashing while downloading half a gig of data files. So I'll be finding out how well refunds work in the Google Play store.

Overall: well worth the money.


i am not sure why everyone is feeling that it is hard to open the box. there were 2 tapes on the box, which I cut with my room keys and everything was fine, it wasn't hard. Is it just me that feels everyone is just too idiotic when it comes to opening boxes?


There was also a sleeve which I had to attack with scissors to get it off. As I said, it doesn't matter because you only open the box the one time. But there is a noticable difference between this and Apple hardware which really concentrates on the "[getting it] out of the box experience".


what? i pushed it from one side and the box slid from the other side. I have no idea why anyone would use a scissors to take off sleeve.

And no matter how you concentrate on getting out of box experience, people should really use common sense when it comes to opening boxes.


It seems fairly obvious there are two different types of box or a bad batch of boxes or whatever. Clearly I'm not an idiot and I did try to slide the box out of the sleeve, but that was impossible and I had to cut the sleeve open with scissors.


Myself and my wife had absolutely no problem sliding it out of it's sleeve and then slicing the 2 tabs with a knife and lifting the top off.

Only thing i can think of, is maybe there was a defective batch of boxes that were slightly too tight? The complaints I had been reading for days definitely confused me once I got it and opened it with ease.


A more likely explanation is that that the paper expands at slightly different rates. People who had no trouble, like you and me, received the package after it sat in a hot UPS truck all day. The sleeve was slightly larger than the box due to heat expansion.


In recent memory, I haven't needed a knife to open an apple box easily. (Not counting brown outer shipping boxes.)


he cut open a tape with a knife. if you have nails, you can take off the tape with it, but I bite my nails, so I had to use my keys, and it's easier to do it with cut tape along a crevice anyway.


I was surprised about this too. I was expecting a fight after seeing countless unboxing videos featuring people that simply couldn't open it without shredding it with scissors. I cut the two pieces of tape with a knife, and then held the top part of the box and the bottom just slid out.


I had to rip the sleeve cover to get it off as it wouldn't slide without ripping...


Completely OT, but I'm really starting to like G+. I deactivated my FB account (reactivated because of a girl--go figure), and found myself browsing G+ for the first time in months. I was shocked by the difference in content quality. My FB newsfeed is full of inane posts by family and a few friends, whereas my G+ feed is almost a reddit/HN replacement. Quite impressed, although I don't see it replacing FB simply due to the family and distant friend aspect.


> My FB newsfeed is full of inane posts by family and a few friends

You can't really blame that on Facebook.


I can, though. It's built into FB's newsfeed algo.

I interact with family and friends I don't often see for geographical reasons quite often on FB. Unfortunately, Zuck et al make the erroneous assumption that this means I care about their daily goings-on. I don't.

My FB feed currently consists of:

1) Instagram pictures from a friend I've known since birth

2) Location checkins from someone I have good banter with but haven't seen in 10 years

3) My cousin's wife talking about getting hammered tonight

4) An ecard

5) Somebody getting tagged.

Conversely, my G+ feed consist of:

1) The same photographer friend, but with better pics

2) Tim O'Reilly talking about MakerCamp

3) Zach Weiner posting an SMBC comic

4) Some random doing something I don't care about

5) Matt Cutts explaining a change in spam detection behaviour.

In short, G+ makes me want to come back because there's interesting stuff to see. FB makes me want to come back so I don't lose touch with some people I care about.


Either way it's easy to have a flood of updates that you don't want to read, or cloud over the bits you are interested in.

If you had two Facebook accounts, one for your close friends and family, and another for interests, would it be any better?

I'm not sure if there is a G+ algo. If you aren't the stalking kind on Facebook, and don't interact with certain people - then some of your acquaintances end up out of sight. And sometimes the wrong ones end up in plain sight.

Both platforms would benefit from a 'turn this person down switch.'


"whereas my G+ feed is almost a reddit/HN replacement"

any suggestions for people like Linus who post well and often to G+ publicly?


You should probably do a Google search for what you have in mind. Since Google allowed "sharing circles", much like sharing lists on Twitter, a lot of people have shared their "tech circles" or whatever.



Glyn Moody, does a lovely wrap up of tech news.


Ah, but if I'd just be able to read and post as throwaway over there..


That's actually a really well done short review. It was well paced, and he did a good job of not just sharing his opinions, but explaining them so that I could tell if they would apply to me or not.


This is a actually a great, succinct review of Linus' short review. Short, compact and does a nice job explaining the components that will make the review helpful to readers.


For some reason, my lame throwaway comment got more karma than any of my other brilliant and insightful comments on HN. Maybe I just said something that lots of people were thinking?


This is a actually a great, succinct review of jonny_eh's short review. Short, compact and does a nice job explaining the components that will make the review helpful to readers.


> You'd look like a complete dork trying to take photos with a tablet anyway

"The best camera is the one you have with you" as we say, looking like a dork is irrelevant. The ipad camera is actually usable and if that's what you have in your hand you just take the photo with it. Now I agree at 200$ a super good camera would be asking to much for what seems to be an already very good device.


A thousand times my sister has facetimed me from New Zealand laying in her bed, chatting incessantly about her new life as a mother, then all of the sudden she flips the camera (not the iPad) to show me her little angel sleeping in her cradle.

Thanks Apple.


My Aunt is in love with her iPad, and mainly uses it as a camera, and image viewer.

I personally think people look more like dorks trying to thumb text into their phones and tablets.


I'd imagine that most phone cameras would beat whatever Asus would most likely have used in this. Given I always have my phone on my I'm happy they left it out and hit the $200 price point.


I guess his point is you're more likely to have a phone 'always with you' therefor a tablet camera is sort of superfluous apart from in a few instances.


Quick Google+ comment - it crashes Mobile Safari like nothing else. I can't even get to the content here.


The complete text:

Quick Nexus 7 comments..

So far: very positive.

Yes, the camera is front-facing only, and there's a good reason there's not even a camera app on the thing by default: it's pretty nasty. But does anybody really care? You'd look like a complete dork trying to take photos with a tablet anyway. It's probably fine enough for some video conferencing, but since that's not my thing let's just say "whatever".

Software: I prefer the plain android look, and dislike the various skins manufacturers have used (I really don't understand the "pee in the snow" model of skinning android to look and act horrible just so that the different manufacturers can make their mark on it - I'm pretty sure the majority of people tend to prefer plain android). So being a "Nexus" device I'm already fairly happy with it.

And yes, it's smoother, and "plain android" is picking up some of the best extensions (like app folder shortcuts). Yes, resizable widgets etc. And a lot of small improvement just in general.

The gmail app has "Mark unread" as a button (although the icon wasn't totally obvious to me), which I like. But the %^$ thing still cannot be set to send just plain-text emails. Why, google, why? Good technical mailing lists all know that html email is just spam or marketing people, and auto-delete html crap. Just give me the option to send text-only, ok? *

The size: I think the 10" tablets are too big. The 8.9" form factor is better. And I think the 7" one is better yet, although I wouldn't dismiss something in between those two (ie the rumored apple mini-tablet size of 7.85" doesn't sound bad either).

And it has enough pixels to make small text readable. I had to change the font-sizes to be smaller, but I can understand why the default would be the medium-sized text. I prefer my text small, so that I see more of it at a time.

That said, I've used it as a kindle replacement for a few evenings, and for pure reading, the kindle still beats it handily for that (although when I want a light, the Nexus 7 comes close). They are comparable in size, but e-Ink really is nicer for reading. And the kindle is lighter, which to me is a big deal while reading. I've got the Kindle Touch, but I think I'll switch to the even lighter Kindle 4 ("Kindle 5"?) if it gets a front-light.

But the Nexus 7 is a perfectly fine reader, and with color, magazines etc work. That's when you notice the smoothness, apparently. At least Tove says that the difference between the Nexus 7 and her Galaxy Tab 8.9 is quite noticeable. And quite frankly, I could never use the Motorola Xoom for reading - too big, too heavy, but the Nexus 7 I had no trouble with.

Verdict: it's solid. If you simply don't like tablets (or android), I doubt the Nexus 7 will really change your mind, but if you were borderline, the new price-point (for a quality device - there's been cheap tablets before, but they've really been pretty bad) and the incremental improvements might be enough to push people over the line.


Crashes Chrome on IOS too, even better.


It's the exact same rendering engine, but with the JIT turned off. It's likely to behave the same.


Yes, this has been going on for ages. I blame both Apple and Google.


I blame Google. They are spending way too much time on the JavaScript for what should be basically a static HTML page. Why isn't my spacebar working to pagedown? It's amazing they're getting adoption from techies.


It's not JavaScript itself that is the problem IMO, it's just there's too much of it and I think they're bundling a ton of frameworks in with it.


But the %^$ thing still cannot be set to send just plain-text emails. Why, google, why? Good technical mailing lists all know that html email is just spam or marketing people, and auto-delete html crap. Just give me the option to send text-only, ok?*

I have the opposite problem: My Gmail app only sends in plain text, and I have no way to change that on my Galaxy Nexus. Perhaps it's taking the default from my web Gmail sessions?


I don't have a problem, I never need to send HTML emails on my 2.3.6 Gingerbread phone with atrocious battery life (thanks, Samsung!)


His comment about 10-inch tablets being too big got my attention.

I am in the market for a tablet that I am going to replace my dead Sony e-reader(6 inch I think). But i think the 7-inch ones are just too small for reading. Has anyone tried to compare both sizes?

I am mainly interested in using it for reading tech books and the occasional email. Currently leaning towards a transformer.


I had a Kindle and a 7" Galaxy Tablet. Sold the kindle within the first week and got myself the larger Kindle DX.

If you're a heavy reader, don't compromise: just get a DX or something that size.

I don't even try to read more than a page on my Galaxy Tablet.


for reading fiction, ~7" tablets or e-readers are the sweet spot. if you're reading technical stuff with diagrams, the ipad really is the best option. a 10" 16:9 screen sucks for anything but movies, you really will appreciate the 4:3 screen.


Right on all counts. Fiction on 6 inch e-ink works well - think paperbacks. Technical PDFs need more, and even at the same screen size, really work better on the iPad than on the old Kindle DX.

I also much prefer the 4:3 ratio - the narrow 16:9 devices give you much less area for the same diagonal measure, as this chart accurately points out: https://twitter.com/trojankitten/status/221270669273468930 (or http://a.yfrog.com/img615/4234/6j2n.png for just the image).

Incidentally, the Archos G9-80 is a nice 8 inch Android tablet sporting a 1024x768 screen, currently selling for around 200 euros. I think the rumored mini iPad will be the same form factor.


For the ratio not reflecting the actual screen area, IMO, manufacturers should reference screen sizes with four numbers: resolution (e.g. 1920x1080), aspect ratio (e.g. 16:9), and area (e.g. 22 in^2). I would drop the diagonal measurement, as it is completely misleading. I'd be willing to drop the actual resolution in favor of DPI.

As a consumer, you generally want a high DPI screen, with a specific aspect ratio, and a certain amount of screen area. The current spec reporting is not helping people out in this regard.


You don't need to have a large screen for reading. It's more important that it's easy to page back and forth through the text - and that it reflows well and is easy on the eyes.

I watched someone trying to read Hacker news on their Android phone's web browser and it looked like the most horrific experience. Doesn't seem to put people off of smartphones though.


iPad is great for reading, particularly with the retina display. It goes super dim at night too, which I like. Only downside is it's a little heavy and big to take everywhere, whereas the Galaxy Nexus is portable enough to literally take everywhere.

For me it's between the iPad and Galaxy Nexus, the Galaxy Nexus is the best Android tablet right now by far.


It's a nexus 7. The Galaxy Nexus is a phone.


I enjoy reading Kindle books on 7" tablets. Reading PDFs can be cumbersome since they only zoom instead of reflowing the text. E-books work great though.


I'm surprised there isn't a readability style plugin for PDFs specifically tailored for small devices.


Taking photo and video on a retina iPad is an awesome experience. It is literly the best evf in the world. Being able to see a 1:1 live view of the resolution is amazing for video, and is equally impressive with photos.


My main disappointment is with the lack of Flash. Flash is still needed on a lot of websites and every time I've needed it it's a reminder that Adobe has cost Android one of its big advantages over iOS.


This just made me realize that Android-users of newer devices may currently be in a worse spot than iOS-users when it comes to lack of Flash-support.

Since iOS has always been shipped without Flash-support, many popular sites target iOS specifically with HTML5-video. Android however, only recently lost support for Flash and is still likely getting the Flash-versions of videos instead of the HTML5 ones.


I doubt this is the case since Flash hasn't been bundled with the stock browser in quite some time (if ever, I'm having trouble remembering.) The real world websites I've seen and even worked on just serve HTML5 to both Android and iOS since you can't count on Flash being there for the former, and of course the latter doesn't have it.


Easily remedied: http://www.geardiary.com/2012/07/20/how-to-get-amazon-prime-.... Just installed it today on my N7 and Amazon Prime video works surprisingly well.


Personally, I'm glad Adobe are dropping Flash support on Android. Flash screws up page rendering on my PC, requires me to use Chrome just to be able to view net videos, is relied on by advertisers, is slow, crashes, etc.

I'm just sad Microsoft back-peddled on no plugins in IE10.


Firefox for Android supports Flash, fwiw.


my kindle has kind of spoilt me - i know it's unreasonable for a tablet to feel as light in my hand as a kindle, but subconsciously i'm noticing the weight all the time.


To be fair, some books can be difficult to hold aloft. The tech will miniturise in time (probably not long either.)


I'm a long time Linux and Android fan, but had no interest in a tablet. I recently had not one, but two Android disliking friends buy a Nexus 7 and one even sold his iPad shortly thereafter. Needless to say, I wound up pulling the trigger.

It's really quite nice how well Android 4 and up work n multiple form factors. This just reconvinces me that there are a host of people that would adopt Android if they gave a more modern version a chance. I took the night off for some drinks and some TV shows and this has been nice to have over my Macbook Air for casual chatting.


I'm another linux fan that just did NOT see the appeal to an "oversized phone", and also got burned by how crappy earlier versions of Android were.

I've ignored all the tablets that came out, iPads, Android tablets, all of them... then when I saw this one, I figured "at that price, i'll give it a shot"... I'm SO glad I did. Absolutely loving my Nexus 7, and it has 100% converted me to being a tablet fan.


I'd almost buy one. No HDMI out, no SDMicro slot, and no USB support, has put me off until the next thing better comes along. I'm annoyed that Google has crippled this device.


Same here, I wanted to buy one then found out it had no USB device support.


Hu? It has USB support - get an OTG adapter.

It won't mount USB Flash drives out of the box, but that's why you root it and install stickmount.


My Nexus One phone let me install a 32 Gig chip, no root needed. Which reminds me, why would I want a tablet that even in the largest storage size is still 1) half the storage my Google phone has and 2) fixed, can't add larger chips or use an external usb device without rooting the phone?

I think Google is trying to force feed us using them as the cloud since people aren't buying Chromebook paperweights in the numbers they had hoped.


Just curious, what about the functionality changed your mind?


I'm still not a fan of Android on a phone (I have a Galaxy Nexus lying around here and I don't like it), but the "bigger phone" feel of the Nexus 7 makes it work great. I think Android fits a lot better on a device of this size/form factor than on a phone, and I feel like the reverse is also true: I love my iPhone, but I'm not digging iOS on a tablet at all. It feels clumsy.


Linus, man... the number of people who auto delete html emails is on the same order as the number of people who disable javascript or run desktop linux and don't know how to program.


He's talking about mailing lists where people submit patches and such, so 90% of the email is text only. And (here I'm guessing) he's talking about replying to, say, a patch email and having it html-fied.


Usually mailing list software, not people, deletes HTML email.


He has a good technical reason for not liking html mail, but the number of people who care about this are vanishingly small and a device maker doesn't really need to care about them. There'll be an app to come along soon I imagine.


It's not the device-maker, it's a fault of the GMail app.

Ironic.

The people who would know and care about this stuff are exactly the kind of people who would have wrote the app: programmers.


> You'd look like a complete dork trying to take photos with a tablet anyway.

Wow, I just got called a dork by linus. This is going on my resume.




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