The big news of the afternoon is the imminent arrival of Google’s own tablet, the Nexus Seven. It is priced at $199 for an 8GB version, and $249 for a 16GB version. The device will ship in July. The tablet is full of features, including an IPS display (i.e. not as nice as an iPad Retina display, but nice), NFC chip (mobile payment), GPS, front-facing camera, microphone, bluetooth, and more. Interestingly, there is no SD card slot (or micro SD slot) so you cannot add more memory (this is a standard feature in most Android-based phones).
The bluetooth feature alone makes the tablet more useful than a Kindle Fire, which also sells at the $199 price point without the camera and bluetooth. Bluetooth means that you can use things like external keyboards, potentially increasing the “creative” aspect of the device. The Nexus has a quad core processor while the Kindle has a dual core processor. Furthermore, Google *should* be able to keep the Google Nexus Seven loaded with the most current version of Android OS, whereas Amazon chose to use a “forked” version of Android, which will always be stuck at version 2.1.
The big questions:
#1) Should I buy the Google Nexus Seven instead of the iPad?
If you are interested in a smaller tablet with a smaller number of available apps, and apps of generally lesser quality than iOS apps (Fraser Speirs calls this the “GarageBand” app test. Is there an app of the same quality as GarageBand for the OS? If so, consider it equal. If not, do not). If all you are looking for is a tablet for e-mail, media (books, movies, music, Netflix), and surfing the web, this isn’t a bad tablet at all for the money. Yes, I would take one. But if you want a tablet that can do more and has a proven track record, think about an iPad. I still contend (as both an owner of an Android device and iOS devices) that iOS is easier to use. I would buy (and have bought) an iPad before buying any Android-based tablet for my non-technology using mother.
#2) Should I buy the Google Nexus Seven instead of a Kindle Fire?
If I were considering a seven inch tablet, I would buy the Nexus over the Fire.
#3) If I get a Google Nexus Seven, should I buy the 8GB or 16GB model?
If you plan on keeping the device over a year, wouldn’t you want as much memory as possible? This is why I buy the 64GB iPad, and would buy a 128GB iPad if it were available. If you can’t add memory later, add it now (which would also be my advice with the MacBook Air, or the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display).
#4) Will Apple respond with a seven inch tablet?
Good question. I’m not sure. If they did, it would be at the $299 price point, making consumers have to decide whether they wanted the features of iOS at a $100 premium, or an Android device for less. People are already making decisions based on price versus features. I’d still rather have schools purchase a 9.7 inch iPad over a seven inch iPad.
#5) Should schools buy seven inch Nexus tablets instead of iPads?
Although the Nexus has more functionality than the Kindle Fire, I’d be concerned about four aspects of the Nexus over the iPad in the educational setting. First, consider device management. Apple offers Configurator, what does Google offer? Second, does screen size matter? Third, what apps are available? Are there Android alternatives for Keynote, Pages, iMovie, iPhoto, and GarageBand (all Apple apps which are inexpensive and powerful)? Finally, what is the track record for Google devices in terms of ability to upgrade operating systems?
#6) As a musician, is any seven inch tablet as good for reading music as the iPad?
No. Get the iPad.
Final thought: did you notice how the Google Nexus also appears to be a 4:3 device?