Tablet Nirvana

I’ve been playing around with tablets for a while now along with several smartphones along the way, and I believe I’m getting very close to my idea of what the ideal tablet should be.

I started out with a Nook Color. The original Nook Color is a nice piece of hardware with a beautiful 7″ inch color screen, but the hardware behind it was somewhat lacking. The original Nook Color’s processor was a bit slow, and the performance lagged somewhat. I even experimented with other versions of Android on it. What I found was that I loved the 7″ inch 16 x 9 format color screen size, which is close to ideal, but the processor was too slow, it didn’t have an integrated GPS chip, nor did it have functioning Bluetooth capability. Overall, the hardware just wasn’t enough to push it beyond the locked-down version of Android that Barnes and Noble shipped on it. I ended up finding the Nook Color a good home and sold it.

Next, I got an iPad 2. I really like the iPad, and I still have it. The iPad 2 came close to the ideal tablet, but it lacked an integrated GPS chip. It is also a bit bulky to easily handle with one hand. The problem came with the upgrade to iOS 6. I drive a truck over-the-road, and I was constantly using the integrated Google Maps. Google’s satellite maps are very clear and detailed, and I often make use of Street View as I’m constantly having to travel to new places I’ve never been before. iOS 6 ripped out the quite superior Google Maps and substituted Apple’s inferior also-ran excuse for a replacement. I can see no good reason for them doing this, other than a lame back-stabbing attempt to punish Google for coming out with Android. I am still quite unhappy with the loss of mapping functionality. Of course I realize that I can simply go to the Google Maps website and use Google’s satellite maps along with Google Street View, but doing it through the browser is an inferior experience to what the original iPad Google Map once was before iOS 6 took it away. By the way, I’ve never found much use for the integrated cameras in the iPad 2. Mostly I’ve used the forward-facing camera for occasional video Skype or Facetime chats.

A few days ago, I purchased a 32 gigabyte Nexus 7 manufactured by Asus, priced at $249 for the 32 gigabyte version and $199 for the 16 gigabyte version. After using the Nexus 7 for a while, I think I might be in tablet heaven. I love the 7″ inch 16 x 9 widescreen size. It can easily be held in one hand. Also, it will easily fit in many inside coat pockets.

The Nexus 7, which of course comes with Google Maps and turn-by-turn street navigation, has an integrated GPS chip. It also has a powerful quad-core Tegra 3 processor, along with full Bluetooth functionality. It has a forward-facing camera for video chatting, along with great battery life, and a stellar high definition screen.

I’m finding that I’m tending to reach for the Nexus 7 rather than the iPad 2. The Nexus 7 is so light. The iPad 2 now feels a bit clunky and kludgy.

Am I ready to sell the iPad? Not just yet. I want to wait a while and see how it shakes out. It’s still handy to be able to have two separate devices to watch streaming videos on — when one runs down, I can switch to the other if I don’t have them plugged in.

The Nexus 7 is an incredible value. Now that the vast majority of apps also come in Android versions, why needlessly spend hundreds of dollars extra for a product where the manufacturer has a proven history of deleting popular functionality with so-called upgrades?