This April, I purchased a new tablet, a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7” model. Though a fantastic tablet, I very soon recognized it was too small for many of the tasks I wanted to accomplish. I began waiting for a decent 10” tablet. Not being an Apple user, I was not interested in any of the iPad models being sold. In addition, I only needed WiFi as my phone is quite capable of tethering. (I currently have an unlimited data plan.)
In July, Google released the very successful Nexus 7 tablet. I watched this tablet with interest, as I knew it would be a pure Google experience and not be burdened with the “bloatware” that often comes with a third-party tablet. My Galaxy Tab included this bloatware and an interface I find cumbersome. Almost immediately, rumors sprung up discussing a possible fall release of a 10” tablet by Google.
Google did release the Nexus 10 as expected on November 13th this year. The device comes with the latest release of Android – 4.2 – and either 16 or 32 GB of storage for a starting price of $399. Google pulled this off by partnering with Samsung – makers of the Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note tablets. Samsung custom-built the 10” tablet to Google’s specifications and came up with a winner.
As of 2012, the dominant force in tablets is the iPad, a 9.7” tablet manufactured by Foxconn for Apple. Currently on the fourth iteration, the tablet supports a 2048 by 1536 pixel display with a dual-core Samsung-built ARM Cortex A15 processor. The new Nexus contains a Samsung-built Exynos 5 Dual processor and supports a truly magnificent 2560-by-1600 (300ppi) display.
Not all games are designed for a modern tablet. In fact, some of the best games are – in my opinion – considered old school and don’t take advantage of the magnificent display. However, they still look amazing.
The Nexus 10 has a simple, uncluttered design. Samsung and Google did an excellent job in putting together this device. The glass covering the screen is manufactured by Corning and goes by the term, “gorilla glass” . It is extremely durable and expected to last a very long time under harsh usage. Combined with the high density of pixels , this tablet presents a real-world display that is simply excellent. Colors are bright and sharp. Even YouTube videos show up clear and crisp.
Of course, Google decided not to go with Samsung’s proprietary USB connector and instead chose to provide a “standard” USB interface. I only wish Google would allow for an expandable SD card slot. Though not completely necessary, having the ability to transfer files via SD card would have been nice.
The Nexus 10 is solid and durable. It has a rubberized back, making it easy to hold in either portrait or landscape. The USB interface is joined by a headphone jack and a mini HDMI interface. Other than that, the tablet case is free of clutter. Stereo speakers run along the edges of the screen when held in landscape mode. These provide excellent sound quality for films or music.
I already own several Android-based phones and a 7” tablet. As such, I’m considered part of the Google ecosystem. This is very important for me. The tablet did not disappoint. The installation of applications on the new tablet was painless. I simply entered my Google Play credentials and my purchased applications were downloaded to the device. In fact, one of my primary decisions to purchase an Android tablet over a Microsoft Surface or iPad is the fact that I have many apps already purchased and are actively engaged with. Having signed into Chrome, all my web bookmarks were instantly transferred into the new tablet.
Even with all my applications loaded, the tablet still has plenty of room for content. I see I’m currently using 1.7 GB out of 32.
The tablet has a simple, uncluttered interface. There are icons for the Play Store, Chrome and an application drawer.
Of course, any of these can be changed. In fact, icons can be “grouped” similar to the Windows 3.1x interface from the ‘90s. Looking at the screenshot below, the Gmail icon is actually a group of icons for several google services.
One new feature of Android 4.2, which is perfect for tablets, is the concept of Google Now. This application utilizes “cards” or small tiles containing bits of information. These cards are dynamic and show up depending on the search history or calendar events.
Google Now can be accessed any time by simply swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Google Now tries to predict what will be needed. For example, I saw a card showing directions and traffic to my destination for an upcoming appointment.
Google was also astute enough to add in a new keyboard. The stock Android keyboard was always lacking. I prefer to use Swype on my Android phones. Google has seen to it that the new stock 4.2 keyboard contains a Swype-like experience. simply dragging your finger across the keys will bring up word suggestions in your current language. This makes editing text or writing emails much faster and negates the need for an external keyboard.
One disadvantage to a large tablet is the the screen size. It isn’t always optimized for some applications. For example, I recently brought up DOSBox for android. I use this really only to reminisce on an early programming job I worked on back in 1993 to ‘95. However, DOSBox came up with such a small screen, I found it almost unusable.
Similar complaints go to the otherwise-fantastic Adobe Photoshop Touch application. Though it works exactly as intended, the icons and menus are simply too small for my finger to use. They should be optimized better for a tablet of this size. I suspect that a stylus may help in this area. I haven’t purchased one yet, but intend to.
In addition to being able to use the Play Store, the tablet integrates with Google Drive, allowing for documents to be edited wherever an Internet connection exists. (I find it easy to tether my Nexus to my phone.)
The Nexus 10 has a 9,000-mAh lithium polymer battery. This is designed to give the tablet a good nine-hour charge with WiFi enabled. The MIMO WiFi is impressive, allowing for super-fast WiFi speeds. I was able to connect seamlessly to both my home WiFi and my phone’s WiFi.
No external SD or MicroSD card expansion.
No full-size USB port.