Google Nexus 7 – why you shouldn’t buy one

There are some product launches that make you go, why?

The India launch of Nexus 7 by Google is one such.

Let’s see why it doesn’t make much sense in a market like India’s.

First, why do people buy tablets?

They buy them primarily as media consumption devices. In other words, to see videos, browse web pages etc.. Tablets, because of their lack of a proper keyboard, don’t make great ‘media creation’ devices, and are not really suited for emailing, creating power point presentations, video editing etc..

So if you are not going to use your device primarily for consuming media (as opposed to creating it), you should consider buying a smartphone or an ultrabook or a convertible.

The second reason for buying tablets is that in addition to consuming media, some people like to use their tablets (particularly 7-inch ones like the Google Nexus 7) as a back up phone, allowing them to make and receive calls in a pinch. In fact, many people who step out with a 7-inch tablet have now started leaving behind their phone, loathe to carry two devices.

Now, back to the main point.

Given that media consumption is the main purpose of a tablet, which size tablet is the best? A quick hands-on comparison of various tablet sizes would make it clear that 10 inches is the best. Of course you can watch videos on a 7-inch device, but the effect is less than overwhelming.

Why? Because even though 10 inches may be only 3 more than 7, in terms of the area of a widescreen display, 10-inches of diagonal give you about 43 square inches of viewing area, while 7 inches will give you less than 21 square inches. In other words, a 7-inch tablet has less than half the viewing area of a 10-inch one.

Needless to say, nearly everyone prefers watching videos on a 10-inch tablet, like the Spice Mi-1010, which has an HD screen and a Rs 12,500 price tag, compared to a 7-inch one.

But of course, 7-inch tablets sell too, because of one key factor — portability. If you try hard enough, they can be kept inside a pant pocket (though perhaps not a jeans pocket.) 10-inch tabs also tend to weigh about 600 gm, while 7-inch ones come in at 350-400 gm.

In addition, you look less ridiculous holding a 7-inch tablet pressed to the side of your head than you do with a 10-inch one covering your head on one side. For that reason perhaps, 7-inch tablets are more likely to come with a SIM-facility (voice calling) than their bigger cousins.

So how does the Nexus 7 measure up on these points?

Not very well actually.

First, the key strength of the 7-inch tablet – portability, is not utilized due to the lack of either SIM and voice calling support. Worse, the Google Nexus 7 does not even support data when you are outside your home as it does not have either built-in 3g support or the ability to use an external 3G dongle (USB.) For the technically minded, however, there may be hacks to get an external 3G dongle working on the device.

Besides, the biggest strength of the Nexus 7 – that it is the only 7-inch quad-core tablet available in the Indian market – can also not be taken full advantage of due to this key shortcoming.

For example, if the only place you are going to use the tablet is at home (due to the lack of public Wifi in India), and you are primarily going to browse web pages on it, do you really need a quad-core processor on a device that costs Rs 16,000?

You need quad-core processors only for two reasons – one – for gaming, and two – for multitasking, or running several applications at the same time. For both these uses, 10-inch devices are more suitable than 7-inch ones.

So who is the Nexus 7 good for? First, it’s good for die-hard Nexus fans. However, since India doesn’t really have a trackrecord of Nexus launches, such a fan base may be a little hard to find.

Second, the Nexus 7 is good for people who will primarily use the device indoors, but, for some reason, cannot use a 10-inch device, and need a quad-core processor for some reason.

For most others looking for a 7-inch tablet, any of the other dual-core models, such as the iBerry CoreX2 3G (price Rs 11,000), would be a better choice as they offer voice calling and built-in 3G, besides costing only about two-thirds of what the Google model goes for.

If size is not a concern, then there are several better models in the 10-inch range that cost roughly the same as the Nexus 7, but offer much more value for money. A case in point is the iBerry CoreX4 3G, which also has a quad-core processor, an IPS display and built-in 3G, but costs only Rs 2,000 more than the Google model.