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Nexus 7: Anticipation/Actualization/Aftermath Part 1

This is going to be a three part review to the new Google Nexus 7 tablet running Jellybean version of the Android OS.

Part I: Anticipation
Here I’ll talk about what it’s like before I get device, what I’ve heard, and what I’m looking forward too.

Part II: Actualization
My first hands on experience with the tablet, how fresh it feels, how it compares to my other Android experiences and of could compared to the iPad

Part III: Aftermath
And after the glow of ‘new toy’ wears off what are we left with, will I be a hard core user, maybe get a bump up to medium, or will it be regulated to the occasion check in when I think about it.

Part I: Anticipation
The nerd in me can not help but want to fall in love with Android but I haven’t yet.  I love the idea, the concept, what it represents and how open the platform is but it’s been a bit scattered and I was worried that it would go the way of Linux on the PCs but by pulling some major supporters and having Google continue to push the development of Android it has continued to refine itself into a major player and one of the major operating systems in the mobile market.

And in their lasted revision dubbed ‘Jellybean’ they have made some major improvements that have peeked my curiosity so I’ve got myself signed up to get one of the Nexus 7s the first tablets to be released with the new OS.  By the time I get home from my road trip the Nexus 7 should be sitting there waiting for me.

I’m excited about checking out Google Now, it’s answer to Apple’s Siri and then some.  Pulling in information based on location, time, and history to pull together a sloth of information about what’s going on.   I’ve heard they’ve refined interface animations with their new ‘project butter’ that is suppose to step up the animation to 60fps.  And I dig the idea of facial recognition to unlock the device as well.

I’m also very interested in the 7″ form factor.  I currently have an Amazon Kindle Fire that I ended up not using as much as I anticipated.  Mostly because while lighter than my iPad the Fire is still not quite that perfect weight that the Kindle eInk readers are for bed time reading.  I understand we might not ever get >that< level of lightness in a durable screen but I’m eager to see if the difference between the Nexus and the Fire is going to be that sweet spot.

This will also be my first Google Nexus branded device, I’ve played around with a couple of Android phones by HTC, Samsung and some other cheap manufacturers that also build these sub $100 POS tablets that I think has really muddy the water for the general public, but that’s part of the problem with open-ness to truly be open you have to allow these to be created.

At this stage I’m super stoked I think almost as stoked as when I picked up my first iPod touch.  That idea of knowing to a certain degree what to expect but not exactly sure of how it’s going to feel until you have it actually in your hands.

The anticipation is growing with each review and unboxing I see, and the fact that it sounds like its selling out at all the major retailers carrying it, makes me wonder if the Nexus 7 is the tablet to finally break the trend or be yet another device that spikes at launch and then fizzles in the long run.

Without touching the device yet, I can tell you it already puts the current Kindle Fire on notice, if Amazon doesn’t turn around an updated version for the same price, Nexus 7 is going to steal its thunder.  The only advantage the Fire has is the access to Amazon’s VOD everything else can be loaded directly onto the Nexus 7, and I’m sure with a little side loading and hacking you could even get that working.

Will 7 be Google’s lucky number?  Or will Apple blow us out of the water with an October surprise and launch a mini iPad?  Only time will tell!

Bily Foster

Continue to Part II: Actualization

ASUS Transformers

This is a quick review of ASUS Transformer Tablet with the Keyboard Dock.  I know this isn’t the most recent version of the ASUS Transformer, but I just recently picked up the keyboard dock and thought it would be intersting to try and use it as a laptop.  This review is more on the ‘concept’ of replacing a computer with one of these Transformer tablets.

I first want to say that I like Android, so if it doesn’t sound like it, it’s only because I want so bad for it to be better because I really really want to love it.  I just don’t yet.  I was thinking “hm maybe changing the functionality of the device from a ‘tablet’ into a laptop might help.”  And in some places it does.  For example it feels less like a consumption device and one that I could create thing on.  I realize this is all really mental becase I’ve had these options the entire time, but having the physical keyboard connected makes this system ‘feel’ like it’s everything the Netbook wish it could be.  They say 16 hours of battery life and while I haven’t timed it, I can say this is going on day three of light usuage without a charge.  I have watched a couple of movies via Netflix so far, some light surfing and now I’m writing this review.

The keyboard/dock/battery does add a bit of weight to the device but that’s because it’s basicly a big old battery.  However it’s great to have the added functionality of being able to use full size SD Cards as well as having two full size USB ports for adding memory sticks or even a HDD that you can mount!

If you are on a budget and do not need a full ‘computer’ and would like the option of disconnecting into the tablet mode.  Then the ASUS’s Transformer line it is a good way to go. OR if you are REALLY into computers and you want to dig into the system and hack it to do your bidding then Android is a fun system to work in, but if you are use to Windows/Mac and are expecting to see the same apps on Android, you might be disappointed.  In most cases there are alternatives, for example I do not have MS Word, but I can make Word Documents in Polaris Office.  And while I have yet to purchase the Android version of the Adobe Apps, I do have Sketchbook Pro for doodling on the system.

All in all for me Android is still a ‘play ground’.  It’s where I play around and learn but my business all relies on Mac and iOS.  With my Nexus 7 coming soon that I’ll be using more and more of Android and it’s apps, and I’ll be running side by side comparisons of it vs the Kindle Fire.

Bily Foster

The Steam mobile app review

Yay! Steam finally came out with their Steam mobile app for iOS and Android about a week ago. Although it has been labeled as a beta, it is fairly neat to use.

If you do not know what Steam is, Steam is a computer game service that allows you to purchase game licenses from many different publishers.  It is essentially a digital locker for your computer games.  You do not get any software on physical media like CD or DVD.  You install the game on your computer by having it downloaded.  One of the advantages of this method is that you can install the game on as many machines as you want, but they are only playable when you log in with your account.

The Steam Mobile app is basically nothing more than a chat client with your friends that you play with on Steam games and a store to let you search and buy game software that will be installed on your computer.  When it first came out, it was by invite only to the beta, of which didn’t seem that hard.  I got my invite in a few hours later after signing in on the app.  Now the beta is open to all registered accounts.

As I said, this app for both iOS and Android is a beta, but that is mainly the service, not the app itself.  The app has a look and feel of being in the desktop version of Steam, only smaller.

It is split into 3 main categories: Community, Store, and News Feeds.

Community

The Community section is where you will find your Steam friends, groups, and friend activity on Steam.  You do have the ability to chat with them if they are online.  You can view their profile on who their friends are, what games they have been playing lately, and their wishlist.

Store

The Store section  is where you can search the catalog, make your wishlist, and be able to purchase games that will then be put onto your desktop or laptop.

I think it would be cool to be able to buy the games and play them directly on the phone. But since many of these games are recent, the hardware of iOS and Android just are not powerful enough yet to handle that ability.  It’s a neat idea, but it will be a while before the hardware can handle that much power.

News Feeds

The News Feeds are just like the advertisements of games on sale like on the desktop/laptop version of Steam. The Steam News part gives information like what games are on sale, client updates, product releases and updates, the Steam Blog, and press releases.
There is also a syndicated section that has links to articles from gaming sites like PC Gamer, Shacknews, Kotaku, and more.

Others

There are two other sections like Settings and Exit Application, but those are fairly self-explanatory on  what they do, so I won’t go into much detail on those.

Final thoughts

The app is really nice for being in the beta phase.  The nice thing is that anyone with a registered Steam account can try out this app on iOS and Android.

I guess I’m just thinking too far ahead into the future when mobile devices will be able to play these games, but at least you have access to the store and the sales that are currently going on.

You can find the Steam Mobile app in The App Store for iOS here and the Android Market here.

Have fun and geek out!

Brian Booher

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