Thursday, July 25, 2013

Is the new Nexus 7 worth it?

For owners of the 2012 Nexus 7, this thing will look mighty familiar to you.

Just under a year ago I bought my first tablet, the 16gb Nexus 7. Now, as has become the custom in the world of technology, Google has recently announced my relatively youthful tablet's successor in the Nexus 7-2 (note the space between the numbers, I know it's confusing but this is apparently what most writers have named it).

The question I will look at is this: is it worth it for current Nexus 7 owners to buy the Nexus 7-2?


My gut feeling on this is no, it is not worth it. As I've written about previously in terms of smartphones, these mobile devices have reached a huge three hundred foot thick steel wall of diminishing returns. Most people use these devices for consuming content; stuff like web browsing, e-mail, youtube, and news apps are all frequently used by smartphone and tablet users. The problem then? Most smartphones, given decent software support, can all do any of these tasks rather easily as long as they were built during or after 2010.

Take for instance the iPhone 4, an ancient phone by any reasonable measure but still highly used by many who either don't feel the need to upgrade or have just gotten the phone on a new contract in the past year. Indeed, and I have used many iPhone 4's, the reason for this is that web browsing and most mobile consumption activities work fine on that relatively ancient handset.

So, if a phone from 2010 with a single core processor and 512mb of ram can still serve most people adequately enough, what does that say of the 2012 Nexus 7, which rocks a quad core Nvidia processor and the newest Android software available? Simply put, for anyone who doesn't need to be on the bleeding edge at all times, last years model will work fine now and most likely for the next couple of years.

As a Nexus device, there is no way Google will drop the original Nexus 7 in terms of software updates until said updates are no longer able to be run on its hardware, which I doubt will happen anytime soon. Additionally, while the Tegra 3 processor on the Nexus 7 is indeed weaker than the Snapdragon S4 Pro on the Nexus 7-2, the difference isn't so great that you would notice a huge difference doing normal every day tasks.

For example, I've used the HTC DNA, which is equipped with an S4 Pro alongside my Nexus 7. The former is very smooth and snappy, but the latter is no chump and still cuts through Android Jelly Bean like a hot knife through butter most of the time. I don't have any benchmarks on hand at the moment, but I am curious as to how much better the graphics capabilities of the Nexus 7-2 are compared to the 7. Nvidia is known for its graphics, and I wouldn't be surprised if the difference between the Tegra 3 and S4 Pro in that department wasn't too drastic.

To close, if you already have a Nexus 7 or really any of the better quality tablets made last year, I really don't see what the point of getting the Nexus 7-2 would be. Your device is already capable of doing everything that the 2013 tablets will be able to do, and you save hundreds of dollars by keeping your old tech for a little while longer. The only thing vanilla Nexus 7 owners may be missing out on is the rear camera on the Nexus 7-2, but really, who the hell uses their tablet to take photos besides crazy people? Anyone with an expensive tablet probably has a smartphone or real camera to do something like that anyways. To top that point off, most people use their tablets at home, where I doubt you'll feel the need to take high quality pictures of anything while you're just laying on the couch.

If you don't have a tablet and you're looking to experience what everyone's been talking about, get the Nexus 7-2, because it truly is a great device with fantastic specifications sold at a very reasonable price. For the rest of us though with tablets from 2012 and even late 2011, it might be economically prudent to wait it out a few more years until there are more obvious differences between our current devices and whatever new offerings are released by the likes of Google or Apple.

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