How The Nexus 7 Has Changed My Device Use Habits

There’s no question that Google’s Nexus 7 tablet is a success. Google and ASUS have managed to create something extremely compelling for such a low price point. Typically, when I spend $199 on a device of this nature, I’m not expecting it to be a premium, high-end device. But the Nexus 7 has proven itself to be not only a serviceable tablet, but something that belies its budget price tag.

Since receiving my Nexus 7 at Google I/O this year, I have noticed a shift in my device use habits as the 7-incher has wedged itself right smack dab in the middle of my daily use patterns. How has adding a device to my daily routine changed how I interact with all my other devices? First, I should list out the devices I use on a daily basis. I currently have an HTC Evo 4G LTE phone, and a Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi 10.1-inch tablet. The use of these two devices in particular has been impacted by the Nexus 7. I also have a Sony NSZ-GS7 Google TV set-top box, and a Nexus Q.

Hit the break to find out how the Nexus 7 has impacted my Android device usage.

Size and Portability

7 inches seems to be the “Baby Bear” size for me. It’s just right for so many things. It’s not too big, like my 10-inch Xoom, to take with me pretty much everywhere, and it’s not too small, like my Evo LTE, to make web browsing and email handling cumbersome.

I have been using my Xoom since I first got it over a year ago on a nearly-daily basis. It has served me well as my note-taking device for work, and a laptop replacement when I need to do light email or browsing duties. The large screen is a huge advantage over the smaller phone screen for many of these tasks.

However, at 10-inches and over 1.5 pounds, the Xoom is not all that practical to take with you at all times. The Nexus 7, by contrast, is only 0.75 pounds and has a much smaller footprint. The 7-inch screen is plenty big enough to take care of note-taking, email, and browsing tasks.

Since getting the Nexus, my Xoom usage has dropped dramatically for these tasks. As a matter of fact, I haven’t sent an email or taken any notes on the Xoom at all. The Nexus 7 has totally replaced my Xoom for these types of tasks. The portability of the smaller and lighter tablet far outweigh the extra screen real estate of the larger tablet.

My phone’s screen has been getting progressively bigger over the years, finally landing on the massive 4.7-inches on my Evo LTE. There’s a reason phone screens have been getting bigger. Since the advent of touchscreens, we’ve noticed that it’s simply easier to be accurate with your fingers on a larger screen. Also, text is larger and easier to read on a bigger screen.

But there is a blurred line between phone and tablet somewhere in the 5-inch area. So to be a comfortably pocketable phone, I feel anything over the size of my Evo is pushing it. What I use my phone for daily, besides making and receiving calls, is reading and responding to emails, and browsing the Web when I need to look something up. So how has the Nexus 7 changed that?

Interestingly, I notice that I tend to still read emails on my phone all the time. But, if I am in a Wi-Fi area, I’ll reach for my Nexus to respond. It’s simply easier to write on the tablet’s bigger screen. When I need to look something up, I now always use the Nexus since it has Jelly Bean’s Google Now feature, which my phone is currently lacking. Of course, once my Evo gets Jelly Bean, I’ll have to see if I go back to using it all the time.

So the bottom line for portability is that the Nexus 7 is the perfect size and weight to take with you, and has a big enough screen to be highly usable, making it the clear winner when needing to decide which device to reach for in a given situation. The biggest caveat here, of course, is that if I am not in a Wi-Fi area, the tablet becomes much less useful without connectivity. Yes, I can tether to my phone using FoxFi or something similar, but then my phone’s battery is impacted, and the time it takes to set up the tether could be used to just do what you need to do on the phone.

Gaming

Probably the biggest change for me has been in my gaming habits. Before, I did most of my higher-end gaming on my Xoom, and more casual gaming on my phone. The large screen on the Xoom, coupled with the Tegra 2 processor and 32GB of space, made the Xoom the clear choice for hardcore Android gaming. The smaller phone screen lends itself more for casual gaming on-the-go.

The Nexus 7 has completely changed my gaming habits in an interesting way. Since the Nexus is larger than my Evo, and smaller than the Xoom, it seems to have made a nice little niche for itself right in the middle and works equally well for both high-end games as well as casual games. The quad-core Tegra 3 processor also gives it a huge advantage over both my previous devices, making any game run buttery smooth. Below is a shot of zombie-killing game Dead Trigger running on the Nexus 7.

Many casual games are built for a phone’s standard portrait mode, and since the Nexus 7 is essentially more of a portrait device, these games look and run great. In contrast, many of these games don’t fill up the Xoom’s 10 inches, or look pixelated when stretched on the Xoom. Below is a screenshot of casual game WordSuper from my Nexus 7.

Since integrating the Nexus into my routine, I have not played a game on my phone at all and even uninstalled most of my phone games. I have yet to uninstall all the games from my Xoom, however, since some games do look and work better on a bigger screen, but overall, my Xoom gaming has been cut down over 90%.

I can honestly say that my Nexus 7 is now my Android gaming device of choice.

Other Changes

Due to the fact that the Nexus 7 came with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, it has been the most advanced Android device in my arsenal for a while. Since I also got a Nexus Q media streaming device, setting it up and using it required me to use my Nexus 7 since the Nexus Q app was only available for Jelly Bean devices.

That has since changed and any Android device running Gingerbread or higher can now control a Nexus Q. I installed the app on my phone and can now use either the phone or the tablet to control my Q. But I still reach for the tablet since it seems better integrated and less buggy than using it on my phone. The larger screen also makes playlist management easier on the tablet than the phone.

Conclusion

The Nexus 7 has easily become a huge part of my device usage in its short month and a half lifespan. The tablet has hit the tri-fecta of a perfect size and weight, high-end specs, and wallet-friendly price tag. Smaller phones and larger tablets still have their place, but the introduction of this mid-sized powerhouse has forever changed how I think about portable, personal technology.

So has anyone else who has picked up a Nexus 7 noticed a change in how you use your gadgets? Let us know in the comments below.

» See more articles by Ed Caggiani


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  • http://twitter.com/RampageDeluxe

    This is exactly the same way the nexus 7 has impacted me verbatim. I didn’t know that a 7 inch tablet would be so profoundly useful in my day to day. I’ve also found myself enjoying games on another level that my Xoom couldn’t offer, do to being so hard to hold and move my thumbs.

  • http://twitter.com/tbits76 Tim Mark

    I bought the Nexus 7 on launch and have had it for nearly a month now. I have a PC netbook running Windows 7 and I haven’t touched it since. The tablet is much faster and easier to use, as well as being more compact and having a much longer lasting battery. My Asus netbook has its place, but I prefer the Nexus 7 for day to day use.

  • Kyle Cole

    Yep, I have a RAZR Maxx and a decent laptop, but i prefer the N7 for just about everything. Only time I use the laptop is when my wife is already using the Nexus! Plus, after using the nexus, my RAZR looks/feels so tiny! Love this N7, and never want to put it down!

  • Kevin Thomas

    Great review of someone that actually uses the device.

  • http://twitter.com/TekkeeVee TekkeeVee©

    My kindle fire sits growing cobwebs. My laptop running win7 sits waiting for some action. My Imac is only used fir graphics and music. Of course my GalaxyS3 gets the most use but hey it is a phone after all. My Nexus7 is my go to machine for all things internet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Noh/100001051202905 Ryan Noh

    WAS. Didn’t they just ban it’s sale? Trouble either way, and reading this its no wonder competitors might be tempted to resort to lousy tactics outside of actual competition.
    Maybe the only thing they’ve got on them is the slide unlock thing, and I HATE the slide unlock thing on my new (and first) android phone (a mere, cheap Lucid)

    I hope it gets put down, I want something like a Nexus for my next phone.

  • CarterMorgan

    I haven’t got the Google Nexus 7 yet, since I’m still doing what research I can, and I have an iPad 2 right now. I love my iPad and if they made a 7 inch iPad I would easily get it immediately. However, since they do not I am really thinking about the Nexus 7. A coworker at Dish got one and I was able to play with it and it seems like a great tablet. The only thing that I’m skeptical on is streaming live TV to it. Right now, on my iPad, I use the Dish Remote Access app to stream live TV and recordings from my DVR at home, and I’m not sure how the Nexus 7 will work with it. I will wait about a month to hear something from Apple and if they don’t announce anything I will get the Nexus 7!

  • http://MyShocker.com Nudo

    Awesome write up :)
    I personally have stopped carrying my bulky laptop around now that I have N7.
    Compare about 2 hours of battery life on my laptop to about 3 days on my N7!

  • http://twitter.com/ThisIsVictorKim a.k.a. Snugg Digemz

    great read. would love to hear any caveats and downsides you’ve noticed from downsizing a tablet. I’m only 85% sure (without personal use, only through reading articles and testing out my friends N7) that I could do with less real estate on a tablet when the time/money comes around to get one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/juan.amaya.7121 Juan Amaya

    I love my N7 long story short. I installed the Nova launcher and wow! I’m not going to say any more then it made my N7 so freaking fast!!!

  • Darkcobalt

    This and the responses here proves what I inherently felt: Steve Jobs was dead wrong when he said a 7″ tablet is useless. I find my 9.1″ Sony Tablet S just slightly too cumbersome to use in public settings. I think a 7-8″ tablet is pretty idea for most usages and solves the problem of a “too small” phone screen.

  • Jayne

    I love my Nexus 7. My boyfriend (a super techie) got it for me for my birthday this past summer. It’s so much fun to use, and runs beautifully. Only problem is that if I try to play a game on dead battery with it plugged in, the screen goes snowy like a tv, and then blacks out. So I’m going to try charging up the battery overnight and get back to my plants vs. zombies in the morning. I love the size though, my nexus 7 even fits in the small purse I carry, and I know it’ll be great for visits to my boyfriend (he lives about 5 states away) great product, great price too (even though mine was a gift)

  • Dimitri Minaev

    Indeed, 7″ screen turns out to be way more comfortable than I expected it to be. What still annoys me is the wrong screen aspect. Traditional 4:3 would be much easier to use.