Review: Google’s Android OS Might Be Better Suited For Tablets, And The Nexus 10 Is A Shining Example

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This week, Google announced a new lineup of devices that would be running its Android OS, Jelly Bean version 4.2. Those new devices are a phone, the Nexus 4, and a 10-inch tablet, called the Nexus 10. I’ve had a chance to play with both devices, specifically the Nexus 10, and I was actually surprised with how the device has fit into my daily routine.

First, a little background on what type of devices that I use on a daily basis. I’m an iPhone guy and use an iPhone 5 daily and religiously, but I also carry the latest Galaxy Nexus. I’ve found that iOS still is the better phone operating system for me. However, when the Nexus 7 came out, I found that I used it way more than I ever used my iPad. Perhaps this could be a fluke, or maybe it’s because of the 7-inch form factor.

That’s until I picked up the Nexus 10 and realized that Android OS is, for me, the better “bigger screen” tablet experience. I have a first-generation iPad and never pick it up. In fact, I never use it for more than two hours a week. I’m usually on my computer or on my phone, and never had the need for a “middle” experience from a device. I was pretty sure that I’d never be a tablet person because of this, but alas, Jelly Bean 4.2 on a 10-inch tablet is just that good.

Don’t get me wrong, the tablet isn’t perfect, and definitely has some oddities, but overall, I think that the Android OS has made me a tablet person. If you’re really technical, and would like all of the details on the hardware guts in the device, head on over here to check that out.

Current Daily Usage

I’m a Google user, meaning, I use Search, Gmail, Google Drive and Google+ for the most part. Clearly, those things aren’t as great on an Apple device with iOS…for reasons. I’m not the only one that uses Google products, so this won’t be a foreign concept.

I’m not really a games person. I’ve found when I use a tablet, it’s because I want to watch some YouTube videos, check my email, tweet a bit or go on Facebook. It’s all a lean-back experience, as you’d expect. However, I really don’t use a lot of apps and games, even when I did use my iPad. Perhaps this is weird, but it’s my personal flow.

I have a MacBook Pro and really enjoy using Mountain Lion. In fact, I think it’s the best desktop operating system ever built. However, I do use Chrome quite a bit, and since it syncs with all of my Android devices, it’s a rather enjoyable experience to open up a new piece of hardware and get started right away.

The Nexus 10 is a pretty standard-looking device at first glance. The first thing you’ll notice is the rounded edges and the fact that it has two speakers. That’s pretty sweet. The back of the device, which I’ll get to a bit later, is wonky. It looks odd, and certainly feels odd. However, the device is thinner than I expected it would be, and that’s really impressive.

The pixel density is impressive on the screen; again, not what I expected at all. This baby is big and clear.

The Feel

Once you get it in your hands though, the rounded edges and feel are quite pleasant. However, all of that is quickly put to bed when you touch the back of the device. It has two different surfaces, a rubberized feel for the most part and then a plastic panel towards the top that protects some of its guts. I have no idea what Samsung and Google were thinking when designing the back of this device, but it’s a bit of a letdown. Not a dealbreaker by any stretch, though. I just find it to be odd.

The “smart case” that you can pick up has to snap into this weird little panel area, which again…it seems like an odd hardware choice.

Other than that, the thing is killer thin and is extremely light. I’ve found that using it for an hour or two is a pretty nice experience and it feels durable. So durable, that I don’t mind tossing it on the couch or coffee table without fear of it breaking into a million pieces. I can be pretty rough on devices and I’ve already nicked up my iPhone 5. Rugged is good in my opinion.


The Difference

Like I suggested in the headline, I’m starting to think that Google’s Android operating system might be better suited for a tablet device. When it comes to using Android on an actual phone, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t grip for me. When I’m using my laptop, I tend to do everything that I need to do on it. My iPhone serves as a backup when I’m on the go, and the apps that I do use are really great on Apple’s OS. I haven’t had that experience on an Android phone yet.

Jelly Bean 4.2 is pretty impressive, more impressive than I’ve seen on any Android phone, but it really sings on a tablet devices, specifically the Nexus 10.

When I sit on my couch and use the Nexus 10, I tend to check email, flip through tweets, view Instagram photos, use Google+, troll Facebook and surf the web. All of these things are superior on this latest version of Android’s OS and on this device compared with my experience on the iPad. The front- and rear-facing cameras are unremarkable from the sense that I would never really use a tablet as a “camera.” However, the quality on the front-facing camera is pretty good for Hangouts.

Google Now

What I didn’t think much of when it comes to tablet usage is editing documents, getting fully immersed in YouTube and doing heavy Google searching, but alas with Jelly Bean 4.2 and the Nexus 10, I have absolutely started doing all of these things on a tablet. Because of the Google Now product, I am now using it like I would suspect I’d have used Siri, if it ever gripped for me. I perform searches, ask for weather, check sports scores and do research on pieces or places to go on the weekend. Google Now is such an amazing integrated Google experience that I would not be surprised if it ends up being one of the most successful products that the company has ever shipped.

That’s saying a lot.

Docs And TV

Also, I’ve started using Google Drive a lot more — not to create documents mind you, but to review and tweak them after a long day of work. In addition, I find myself surfing through my YouTube subscriptions as if I’m surfing the TV channels, even though I can’t stand cable TV.

The Bottom Line
This tablet retails for $399, which is cheaper than the standard iPad. However, I’m not pitting one against the other. What I can say is this: If you are a Google account holder and Google product user, then you really should think about picking this device up. Sure, it’s not perfect, and I’m not thrilled that Samsung made the device.

I thought that Asus did a way better job with the look and feel of the Nexus 7 than Samsung did with this device. However, it’s not horrible; in fact it’s quite solid. The idea that Android’s OS might be better on a tablet than iOS might be jarring for you, and trust me, I surprised myself with this line of thinking. What I’m saying is that for my daily usage and lifestyle, this really is the case.

Do you want to wait for another 10-inch tablet with Android? Maybe, but it’s not going to get better than this until Google wises up and starts making its own hardware. Yes, it’s time. It’s time for Google to step up to the plate and control the entire experience of Android and hardware. Does that mean that other hardware manufacturers should get the shaft? Maybe not, but I think Apple’s #1 genius move is that it controls the hardware and software.

Apple has an advantage, but Google is right there on the cusp of something amazing. Maybe you don’t agree with my statement that Android has a leg up for the tablet experience, but it’s worth thinking about. Perhaps Mr. Brin can stop playing with glasses for a few months and help design a killer tablet. I’ll buy it, as long as it’s running Jelly Bean 4.2 OS or beyond.

It really is that good, and I’ll probably switch between it and the Nexus 7 when I’m not “wired in.”