Nexus 7

Initial Impressions

Hardware

The build quality is fantastic. The Gorilla-glass touchscreen is bright and legible. I know some were a bit miffed that it doesn't have true HD pixel depth. So far I don't see that as an issue.

The Nexus 7, as the name implies, is a 7" device. 7" is small enough to be portable but large enough to be quite useful for reading. I have an HTC Sensation phone and find the 4.2" screen too small for reading more than an odd web page.

It's relatively light. Not as light as an iPad Mini but much lighter than an iPad. The size and weight make it very portable and unlikely to be left behind.

I bought the 32GB model with the wireless data option. The jury's out as to whether 32 GB is enough. I believe the device works with Google drive and the music service to cache frequently used items. We'll see whether the lack of an SD-card slot proves to be an issue.

I also splashed out for the SIM-enabled device. I haven't registered the included ATT SIM card. I can say that T-Mobile won't let me use the SIM card from my phone with it. Apparently they recognize it as a tablet and block use. It should work with a data-plan-registered SIM.

The scrolling is fast and effortless in most applications exception Chrome. Oddly the scroll resistance only manifests in Chrome. It's not laggy so much as resistant. I've noticed it not only in my Nexus but in demo models I saw at MicroCenter. Perhaps it's a feature to prevent users from quickly scrolling away from their reading point by an extraneous flip of a finger. If that's the case, then I'd like to see that exposed as a user-configurable option.

Software

So far I really like Jelly Bean. My HTC Sensation feels old and clunky in comparison. I like the new notification center. I like that I can dismiss items by swiping them left or right. There's also a "Clear All" button. There are actually two notification centers. Pull down on the left side and you see app notifications.

The right-side pull down is more of an app-status center. There are widgets for accessing the Settings panel, direct access to WiFi and bluetooth settings as well as on-screen brightness control. It looks like I may be able to add other widgets as well.

App-wise it comes with few frills and by that I mean all the bloatware bundled with other Android devices. My T-Mobile-branded HTC Sensation has a few apps I don't use and really don't want installed. Yes, I could root it and put a new ROM with less bloat. Rather (or in addition) to installing a new ROM it's making me think my future phones will all run vanilla Android.

Verdict

There's more to explore but so far I give the device a solid "A".