Category: reviews

The nexus 7 review


Two weeks ago I was in a dilemma, I was in Kuwait and returning to India after my vacation without a new computing device was almost taboo.
I had to get something to show for my 2 months of stay here and the problem was that, I was in a moment where I was completely satisfied (gasp!) with all the devices I have.
I have my galaxy ace for my whatsapp + calls and my laptop for my entertainment and productivity (games) need.

I was initially inclining towards a new phone, the nexus 4 (the only phone in the market that excited me, the Samsung galaxy S line is way too common now). But reviews and complaints by customers spoke of terrible battery life. Plus I just got my ace a year ago, so I was in no rush for a change.

Then I decided to check out the “tablet” options. I was focusing on using it for its E-book reading capabilities (I’ve got tons of books I need to catch up on) and to use it as a media player device for my travels.
After researching on a lot of products at different price points, I had no choice but to settle on the   Google Nexus 7 (made by Asus)

and was boy was I right on getting it.

price and models : 

2 wifi models :  16 and 32 gb
1 3G   model  :   32gb (does not make calls , the 3g is just for mobile internet)
I got the 16gb wifi model for 63 Kuwait dinars or 11000 rupees (I hear it costs 16k in India) .

The form factor and build quality:

It’s perfect.  The 7 inch HD screen is gorgeous and the size is just right for a tablet.
The device is ample thin too and it fits in a jeans pocket easily. The back of the device is made of a rubberized texture material that feels great to hold. The device weights a bit, but also has the necessary heft to make it feel like a quality device.  Almost apple-like.


 The only physical buttons are the power and volume buttons. Don’t worry though u won’t need others. The bezels (black bars) around the screen are great as they let you hold the device without blocking the screen. There is a micro-usb port for charging and data transfers, a 3.5mm jack for music, front facing camera and 2 mics for calls (Skype).
There is no rear camera.   

User interface and performance:

First of, the screen has very high pixel density (better than the ipad mini) so everything looks amazing on it.  It’s quite bright too, but I did feel the colors were a bit washed out especially when compared to the more expensive galaxy tablets vibrant displays.
Its great for reading books (even if the font is small, u will be able to read it without flinching) and comics look gorgeous on here too. The form factor supplements the screen too.

The OS on here is the stock android4.2.2   jelly bean and it works flawlessly. Its google’s baby and how they want you to experience it, pure android, so no bundled unnecessary apps or launchers running on top (like Samsungs touch wiz).
Google’s “project butter” was implemented here, so the interface is smooth and seldom do u experience any form of lag.
You could play a game, listen to music, browse the net, all in the background and u still wouldn’t make the device slow.

It’s also thanks to the 1.2 GHz quad core nvidia tegra processor that’s powering the device. It’s quite the beast, and nothing seemed to have been pushing it enough. Even installation of large software happens in a blink of an eye.
high end 3d tegra games work flawlessly with almost console like graphics (gta 3, max Payne)

Music player is the normal music player u find on the other jelly bean devices (your free to anything else, I use playerpro) and the video player supports mp4 but doesn’t play .mkv and other HD files but all u need is mx player (free) and it runs them flawlessly.

If you have a Google account , life becomes much more easier ,  all your devices  integrates itself . My contacts(from my ace) , my settings , even the bookmarks in my PC sync automatically into the nexus 7 .

Battery life:

The device comes with a 4235mah battery and holds up quite well even with high usage.
The wifi seems to be the biggest battery consumer followed by the bright screen.
Google promises 8.5 hours  , real world results don’t agree to it , I’d say about 6-7 hours of good use  u should be able to draw out of it .
Videos don’t seem to be taking a lot of battery life, so I think the nexus would make a great companion for flight.
(Go for the 32 GB one for filling in TV shows)

The competition:

I had the opportunity to use tabs of other companies (hcl, Acer, huawei, Samsung) and even the more expensive tabs couldn’t hold a threat to the nexus. Even the much more expensive Samsung galaxy tab ranges are much inferior.
The lesser powered ipad mini (no retina display) 16GB model could cost u around 100 KD (21,000 INR).
4o KD more than the nexus 7!

The nexus 7 is the best value for money tablet out there. This tablet was meant to be ultra-affordable yet powerful – it has done that and then some. If you look at the tablet market today, you won’t find many that can compete with the Nexus 7 in specs, let alone price.
If you want a tablet and do not want to spend a lot of money on it, this is a must buy.

9/10  …
1 point deduced for the battery (Google should’ve put in some battery optimizing software) and the lack of a rear camera
(imagine you’re reading a book in the train on the N7 during a train journey and u see a something worthy to be photographed , the N7 with its amazing speed would’ve made a brilliant camera at times like these (now i have to use another device to take the pic ,but by then the moment could be gone)

Oh and I’m typing this on my nexus 7 , using the word press app (i love how there are tons of free apps for android).


The “Samsung Galaxy Ace” review

Before buying a phone, I spend a lot of time searching other reviews and user opinions. But you can never be sure of any device until you try it for a week at least on your own.  This phone retails at around 14000 rs, so I was a little doubtful when I saw the other reviews, considering that most medium – high end android phones were more expensive.

This phone is actually Samsungs answer to the mid-range category of android phones. This is more of a medium end version of the galaxy s-2, with a lot of features dropped, but retaining a lot of features too , so that  it helps maintain the android experience.  I did not root (hack) the phone yet, because an important official update is coming soon, so I don’t want the phone to be incompatible with the update, plus the phone is just a week old, so i’m not taking a lot of risks, not yet anyway.

the iphone pose

I will begin with the look and feel. This thing looks like the love child of the galaxy S and the iphone. It’s beautiful at one end, and practical on the other end. At this price point, you won’t find a better looking device.

I love the back cover, it’s not glossy, but has an almost carbon fiber texture, that just feels great to rub your fingers on and it provides excellent grip.  The phone comes with an extra white glossy back cover too.
At the front, besides the middle button, there are also 2 touch sensitive buttons for “options” and “return” that show only during usage, they work fine and I haven’t found any problems with them so far. The phone weighs pretty light too .

Calling and messaging, both are good and I haven’t encountered any problems.
There are 2 keyboards for messaging, the standard iphone-like keyboard, and Samsungs swype keyboard.
The swype keyboard is Amazing. You just swipe your fingers across the letters to form a word, and the phone predicts the word , Its almost like playing snake . In case you want to enter a unique word, you can just type the word, instead of swyping. I don’t think I can go back to normal phone keyboards ever again.

On the performance side, the phone runs on the android 2.2 froyo operating system and runs fine. The phone has an 800 MHz processor (underpowered these days), but runs most apps run fine without any problems. I’ve tried a lot of quite demanding games (asphalt 5, PES 2011, speed forge and plants vs. zombies), and all of them work at full speeds.
The menus and home screens are fluid , work relatively smooth and is pretty much iphone-like . The only slowdown I’ve encountered is with angry birds at certain later levels of the game , the game is not optimized fully for froyo, but should be running fine when the gingerbread (the next version of android, 2.3.4) update arrives for the galaxy ace. The ram is slightly lesser than needed, so a lot of heavy multitasking isn’t recommended.

The stock android music player is decent , and sounds great ,  But it lacks support for a lot of high definition  audio formats  and the equalizer that comes along with it doesn’t make a lot of difference .  But, the android market is filled with music playing apps that can solve these problems. I use Poweramp, a 3d party music player that plays everything just great.

The screen is a normal LCD (the higher end phones have amoled ) and the resolution is HVGA and not high definition (HD), so the screen clarity isn’t up to mark with the galaxy s or the galaxy s2 but should be on par with the iphone 3GS. I also noticed a slight lack of color. But the lack of a high def screen does help retain the battery life.
(I did try out the elder galaxy S  recently and its screens are much richer in color and supports high definition videos )
The video player doesn’t come with built in support for divx/xvid video formats. I found this to be quite disappointing. I tried getting other video players that support the formats, but to no avail. The standard iphone (mp4,m4v) and 3gp formats work fine and without any problems whatsoever.  I tested 2 movies (the adjustment bureau and Rio) on this, and both ran fine.

There are a lot of free android apps that are just a treat to use. I personally love the adilko eBook reader, which is just great for me, because real books take a lot of space while travelling  but now I have the entire game of thrones (“a song of fire and ice” series) eBook collection in my phone, and is a breeze to read.

On the gaming side, because of its comparatively smaller screen size, it is quite hard to find games that support the HVGA resolution. But I found a lot of games ported to hvga resolutions on android forums.
The galaxy ace has a 5 megapixel camera that is good enough for casual photography. It is accompanied by a not so powerful led flash, so night shots are slightly bearable. The video capturing is not that great. The camera shoots only at 15 fps, but I heard rumors that the gingerbread update enhances it to 30fps and at higher resolutions.

this quick access widget helps shut off battery draining features of the phones without having to search the settings

The battery life , this was the part that worried me the most cause the last Smartphone I owned was the nokia n95  which was an awesome phone but probably had the worst battery life of all time .
The galaxy ace in comparison to all my previous phones is just phenomenal. I’m easily getting a day and a half of moderate (eBook reading and hearing music) to heavy usage (browsing and movie watching) with one charge.
I tested the movie watching battery backup while travelling from manipal to kerala , I was able to see both movies , one after the other , after which   it still had battery charge left for me to read a couple of chapters from a eBook , and the rest of the way I just put it on sleep , and used it only to make calls and check Facebook , I charged it only when i got back to kottayam .
I am following the charging schedule strictly , I make sure the battery is almost empty before, I put the phone to charge fully.  Keep in mind that, during long travels I put the phone on airplane mode, because searching for networks by the phone takes a lot of useful charge.
The phone comes with a whole list of nifty features to enable maximum battery life. There is a widget to help easily disable heavy battery draining features such as GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. There are even options to switch of data transfers (internet) while on roaming.

The galaxy ace’s direct competition is the apple iphone 3gs 8gb (apple has reduced its price to 19000 rs) and its elder brother  last years galaxy S (now old , but still quite powerful).
So , if you pay around 3000 rs more , you can get the iphone 3gs 8gb , but specs wise the iphone 3gs is far behind ( but then again the entire android vs. iphone , is like comparing a Mac to a PC )
There are 2 other options in the mid range segment ,  the HTC wildfire and LG optimus one , both of them look ugly, have lesser features and cost cheaper .

If your tight on budget, but want a phone that can pretty much hold its own, look no further. This seems like a perfect time to get the ace, cause in august the gingerbread update to ace is arriving, bringing with it a whole list of improvements and features.