Monday, November 25, 2013

Nexus 7 (2012 model)

I bought a Nexus 7, 16 GB Android Tablet by Google & ASUS last week. It cost only Rs 8,999/- on Flipkart and was quite enticing. It is not going to be my primary tablet. I have an iPad. The main reason I bought this one was to test and continuously give feedback on an Android app (NHM Reader) we are developing.

Over the last few of years I have bought many cheap Android tablets, mainly to test them. I was quite disillusioned with them all. It started with a cheap (then - Rs. 7,000) 7 inch unbranded Chinese tablet, resistive touch, Android 1.x which was soon cast away. Then I bought another resistive touch 10 inch, yet another cheap Chinese make (which cost Rs 10,000) from the US and had it delivered to India. It was some Android 2.x version. Again threw it away after a while. Then, again bought a capacitive touch 9 inch version from the US, which performed a little better, but had some fault and I couldn't fix it. [When I say I have thrown it away, I have them all lying in the house somewhere.] I then got a gift of Penta, a capacitive touch 7 inch tablet marketed by BSNL. I gave it to my daughter who quickly grew tired of it and instead kept taking my iPad away.

These were basically for experiments, trying to figure out whether a cheap Android tablet can be a good consumer device, for consuming music, video clips, reading books etc.

In the meantime, I also experimented with couple of cheap Android phones - a Micromax one and a Samsung one, both at the entry level. They also left a lot to be desired. The Samsung Galaxy Y is still in use at home. My daughter uses it, primarily as a web device to watch Youtube clips, check weather, chat with her friends and quickly check her emails.

I was looking for a very robust device at a good price point. Satya then pointed Nexus 7 tab to me an year back. He had procured one from the US. Then it went on sale in India on Flipkart and was costing around Rs. 10,000/- Then when they dropped the price further, I bought it.

There is apparently a new Nexus 7 tab coming up (or has already come up?) I believe. I am not a gadget freak. I don't much care about the latest version of anything. I have an iPhone 3GS and do not feel the need to change it at all. Nexus 7 has only one camera, a front facing, low pixel one. I am yet to take a photo with it. I probably may never use this camera. I do however use my iPad to take a lot of pictures and many video clips as well. So if that is what you want, Nexus 7 is not your device.

However, my experience with Nexus 7 so far is very good. It is nicely packed, compact and light enough. Its storage of 16 GB is more than enough for me. Screen response is really good. Just as good as my iPad. What I liked the most was the neat OS upgrade. The OS that came shipped with the system was 4.2. The same day as I started up the system, it downloaded 4.3 and upgraded itself (of course, with my permission). Then a day later, it prompted for upgrading to 4.4 which I did. (They could have upgraded from 4.2 to 4.4 in one jump, but probably this is easier for them.)

I couldn't get a good cover for it. Satya had procured one from the US. But here in India I have now bought two covers and both are bad. A cheap one from Ritchie Street (Rs 250) which looks good from outside but quite pathetic leather inside. I had to use my cutter to carve out portions to see the full screen. The second one, I bought from Flipkart for around Rs. 550 (marketed by Ambrane India), which contains a cover and a keyboard built in. The keyboard works very nicely. So it can be used with Quickoffice (a free App) and you can create documents and presentations really fast. But the device can slip out of this cover, so it is not very safe.

Kindle app works fine of course. Playing video and music are very competent. Browser (Chrome) experience is of the same standard as in an iPad.

Tamil fonts and complex Unicode rendering are built in and work well. Google doesn't provide a default Tamil input as of now, but Tamil typing can be done with Sellinam well. I am sure there are many other input apps as well.

I paired it with my iPhone through Bluetooth and got the Internet working on the road. At home or office, wi-fi works comfortably.

The battery life is really good. This I did not expect. Almost as good as (but a little lesser to) an iPad.


Why am I bothered about a cheap Android device?

Print books have reached a stage where they are not going to grow much. It is a tough business. Raw material (paper) cost is steadily increasing. Every time paper cost goes up, we are forced to increase the cost of the books considerably - because everything else works on a percentage basis. The author gets 10%, while the trade discount is around 35% for Tamil and can be as much as 50% for English. So if the cost of paper consumed by a copy of a book goes up by Rs 1, you have to increase the MRP by Rs 2, just to stay where you are. If you want cover the inflation elsewhere, you will have to up the MRP by Rs 3. There are plenty of other difficulties a book publishing business face, too numerous to mention here.

In this scenario, Book business can grow only with E-books. It is possible to create e-only books, and retail them for as low as Rs 10 and Rs 20. Most Tamil readers still expect books in this price range. They do not understand that paper price has grown three-fold in the last 10 years. When we started our publishing business roughly a decade back, one kg of paper was around Rs 23-24. Now it is almost Rs 70.

E-books can work only when enough people have a reading device in their hands. Dedicated Kindle Reader like devices with e-ink displays are not going to work in India and particularly in the regional language market. Even Amazon has sort of given up on them, I think. So it will have to be tabs. iOS devices will always be exclusive and expensive.

Given the price conscious Indian markets, it will have to be a cheap and yet robust Android tablet that will trigger in this revolution. Having played enough with resistive touch or unknown brand products, the hassle is so much, I don't think most common folks would even want to touch them. That is where Nexus 7 tab comes in. It is cheap enough at 9k, but in terms of performance it is good enough. In fact it is fantastic.

So go for it!


  1. Thanks Badri. I have decided to buy a piece for my daughter so that i can protect my iPad from the budding rebel.

  2. Dear Mr. Badri, I have also purchased the Nexus 7 from Flipkart. Unfortunately it came DOA (dean on arrival). But Flipkart replaced it very quickly with new one (with in 24 hrs). Hats-off to both Nexus and Flipkart . Indeed it is a great tablet with quad-core processor and I feel it is a best deal for 9K.
    I have to appreciate your efforts in developing NHM reader. I enjoy reading e-books thro' the reader in Galaxy Note II. The reader automatically changes the screen brightness into its maximum upon opening any book. If some bugs are removed, it would be a wonderful e-reader. My thanks and appreciations.

  3. Have been on the fence to buy a Nexus 7 for quite some time now .. looks like your review may seal it.. am in the similar situation as yours.. need a cheap but reliable tablet to read books .. Thanks ! and also thanks to @beastoftraal for tweeting !

  4. >> Browser (Chrome) experience is of the same standard as in an iPad.

    I have not used iPad, but I felt that the browser has slow performance especially with graphics rich pages or, when used during multitabs.


  5. Hi badri, Greetings. I have a nexus 7c. How do i get the tamil fonts installed? Also does nhm writer work on nexus 7c?