A Tale of Two Tablets

I’m doing some work on a project that requires iOS, and my ipad 3 is now sufficiently out of date, processor-wise, that it makes no sense to use it for the project (and anyway, the home button stopped working, too), so I went and ordered an iPad Mini 4, which arrived about a week ago. I’ve been playing with it ever since, and now of course I have some thoughts about it and about tablets and brands and so on and so forth.

The first thing about it is that the iPad Mini confirms again for me something I already knew, which is that I prefer my tablets smaller than “full-sized,” i.e., the size of the standard iPad and other 10-inch tablets. The mini has a 7.9 inch screen and is roughly “paperback”-sized in the same way my Nexus 7 (appearing alongside it in the picture above) is. It’s easy to hold and work with one hand in the way standard-sized or larger tablets aren’t; I generally find standard-sized tablets unwieldy to hold and work on.

For me, at least, the 7-to-8 inch tablets make sense as the intermediary computing device between a smartphone and a laptop, where 10-inch tablets pretty much always just felt like hobbled laptops. I realize other people like 10-inchers just fine. I suspect they have larger hands than I do. That said, as a matter of proportion, on a smaller tablet, I think I prefer the 16:10 ratio of the Nexus 7 to the 4:3 ratio of the Mini; it’s slightly more comfortable to hold in a single hand. Again, this may be an issue of tiny hands on my part. But either way, when it comes to tablets, smaller is better.

The second thing about it is that it confirms another thing that I already knew, which is that Apple makes pretty, pretty objects that make you look cooler just for being near them. I don’t know what terrifying deal Jony Ive made with the devil, but it’s working, because in taking the Mini out of the box, I just about petted the thing and called it My Precious. You (or at least I) want to use Apple products in a sort of compulsive way that doesn’t apply to other manufacturers, and when there’s a problem, you (or at least I) feel like you’re letting the computing object down, rather than the other way around. It’s a little like dating someone who is vastly more attractive than you; you fumble about and try not to give it an excuse to leave you for (depending on your tastes) someone like Channing Tatum or Rosario Dawson.

Compare, once again, to my Nexus 7, about which I definitely do not feel the same way. I really really like my Nexus 7. It’s my pal, my buddy, my friend. It’s perfect-sized for me and super-capable. It does everything I want a tablet to do. But it doesn’t make me feel cooler, or alternately, insecure/incompetent when something on it doesn’t work the way I want it do. It’s just… my pal the Nexus 7. I put it down, it doesn’t call to me to pick it back up. I put the iPad Mini down, and, I don’t know, I feel… reproach? Emanating from the general direction of the iPad Mini? Kind of feels like it.

Yes, yes, I’m overthinking it. That’s what I do. Nevertheless, I pick up the Nexus 7 and it feels like, dude, you wanna get on the Internet? Me too! Let’s go look at things on the Internet! Come on! Whereas I pick up the Mini and it’s all you may not actually deserve me, but I’ll make you look good scrolling through Facebook. And then it does. Curse you, Jony Ives.

My iPad Mini, while lovely and supremely capable, also points out yet another thing that I already knew, which is that with the exception of a few bits here and there, it follows the Apple trend of being slightly behind the times, spec-wise. The machine runs an 1.5GHz multi-core processor with 2GB of RAM, separate GPU and a nice bright LCD screen with a ppi of 320+ — which is to say, pretty much the same specs as the Nexus 7, which was released in 2013. Spec nerds will now descend on me to point out the various difference between the chips Apple uses and the chips Asus used to make the Nexus 7, and so on and so forth, but from a practical point of view, i.e., how people use these machines, these two tablets are in the same ballpark when it comes to their guts.

Likewise, iOS 9 is a very fine operating system, but in a number of ways it lags behind Android (which itself just came out with a new iteration, although I have not played with it yet). iOS’s notification system and handling of apps is less capable than Android’s, in my opinion; likewise Siri isn’t as good at her job than Google is, when it comes to understanding my voice or understanding what information I want. Android has onscreen keyboards that have numbers and most punctuation available via long-presses; Apple’s native onscreen keyboard is still kind of terrible for actual communication. And so on.

This doesn’t mean the Nexus 7 is better than the Mini 4, or Google better than Apple; the experience of the tablet isn’t just about the guts of the machine or how the software does what it does. It does mean that Apple, for its own reasons, isn’t interested in playing the spec game, in terms of hardware or software, on anyone else’s terms but its own. I think it sees its primary competition as being previous Apple products, not current products from any other manufacturer. And if so, you know what? They’re probably right. At this point in the tech manufacturing world, most people wittingly or unwittingly chose their mobile OS allegiance three or four cellphones ago. If you go from Android to iOS, there’s enough of a difference to be exasperating; likewise the other direction (I know, Microsoft. I’m leaving you out of this particular conversation. But look, you’ve got, like, 3% of the US market. Sorry).

Also, Apple is more interested in the best experience of everything than the first experience of anything. It’s not the guy hacking through the jungle with a machete to make a path; it’s the guy coming through laying down an asphalt road and setting up a rest station with a Starbucks inside. Mind you, the “best” experience is a subjective thing; in this case it’s defined as “Whatever the design folks at Apple decide it is.” But they have a pretty good track record, and they’re willing to wait to let other people make all the mistakes, because that means they’re on someone else’s time and budget.

They’re not wrong to do it that way. I remember having a Creative MP3 player (this one, in fact), and being underwhelmed when people started losing their brains about the first generation iPod. And then I saw one in the flesh and started playing with it, and oh my God it was soooo much better. My Zen Nomad had better specs and more memory and Creative EAX sound processing, which really did make crappy low-bit MP3s sound better. But the iPod just worked, in terms of finding and playing music. It’s why Apple sold millions and millions, and Creative became a “me too” in a field they were one of the first to be in.

So, in sum: iPad Mini 4 is very pretty and capable and makes me feel like I need to stand up straighter, wear better shirts and brush my teeth more often to be worthy of it. Nexus 7 is friendly and capable and if it were a person I would probably hang out with it and trade sarcastic zingers. And there you have it, the fundamental difference between these two tablet experiences, at least as I approach them.

46 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Tablets

  1. It might be a genetic thing, John–I’ve never felt the slightest flutter in the presence of Apple gear, even back when I was young enough to care about being cool. Or, to be precise (and given the wild success of Apple products), I may suffer from some kind of style/cultural dysfunction which puts me on the wrong side of most demographic currents. (I seem to have married right, though–the first time my computer-using wife saw a Mac screen full of icons, she said, “That’s supposed to be intuitive?”)

    But then, I bought my first Android phone only last year (and no data plan), so what do I know.

  2. I actually recently swapped from an old original-version Nexus-7, to a second hand original-version iPad Mini. (Prompted in part by there being a cheap almost full featured version of Final Draft for iOS, that made it cheaper to get it and the second hand iPad than the desktop version. They noticed that recently and doubled the price.) And for me, the most important part was that the screen is better. I get less eye strain reading a book on the Mini than the Nexus. And there won’t ever be a new Nexus that has a better screen than an new iPad, because the only people with the clout to maintain the production chains for them are Apple, so I guess I’m a convert.

  3. My thoughts exactly. I have an original iPad mini and a nook. Both are awesome, but the build quality, size and feel of the iPad is so much better. Mostly, I read on it (Nook and Kindle apps work great), surf the web, and use a couple of other apps regularly.

    You were correct about Apple. They are at their best when they take existing platforms and make the experience special.

  4. One quality that makes the iPad appealing to me is its integration within the Apple ecosystem/walled garden. For example: how I can get a call on my iPhone, which might be sitting across the room, and be able to answer the call on my iPad instead, or how I can start writing an email on my iPad and then move to my Mac and pick up composing that same email on that device, or shoot a picture with my iPhone and have it show up on my iPad within seconds without my having to do anything to make that happen.

    On the other hand, I am admittedly deep in the tank when it comes to Apple products (heck, I make my living writing about them), so my opinion, while very well informed, is also certainly very biased.

  5. John, not “better shirts”, but rather kewl black t-shirts.

    Agree fully that Apple just gets the user experience angle better than anyone else: the software and hardware may not “be” better based on objective standards, but they feel like they work together so much better that consumers perceive a clear difference in favor of Apple. As in the case of Mac OS vs. Windows, both alternatives are completely usable for just about any purpose; but the non-iOS/OSX hardware/software just doesn’t have the same feel. (And I say this as someone who works all day in Word for Windows — which you’ll have to pry from my cold, dead hands — but who switches to OS X for everything else.) It’s purely subjective and irrational, but there you have it.

    We’ll see whether Apple’s recent series of botched iOS and OS X releases changes that. I think they’ve finally given Microsoft and Google a great chance to prove that they’re just as good these days. (And I say that as a 25-year Apple evangelist who drank the kewl-ade long ago, and yet can’t quite get behind their recent efforts.)

    I also considered the iPad mini: it was precisely what I was waiting for ever since Star Trek: the Next Generation first showed what a truly functional handheld computer would look like. And I still think the mini is a fine piece of hardware. What convinced me to buy the full-size version was screen real estate. For a lot of things with fixed designs (rather than something fluid like EPUB), such as comix, the reduced need to be constantly zooming in just to read the text made the decision for me. (Aging eyes and all that.) In a couple years, when more designers have realized the need for fluid design, the mini may meet my needs just fine.

  6. Ok, I’m calling it. I’m not going to bother to ever look at any other web sites than Whatever. Your thinking on politics, scifi, and world issues are disturbingly close to mine, your position in your community is very much like mine (relative liberal in conservative neighborhood), and you write about those subjects regularly enough that I can stay mostly informed by just reading here.

    And this entry re-enforces that tech reporting is well-covered too. If you had a quickie sidebar that had the day’s NFL schedule and a link to Youtube, I’d just point my browser here and never type in another URL! (I’m kidding……mostly.)

    I like your analysis of Apple delibrately staying just slightly behind the curve. I think you’re absolutely right. Seymour Cray said that he never wanted to be an innovator in hardware. (In practice that didn’t entirely work out; they did try to be, and that was a significant part of what crushed Cray Research.)

    I think you’re a bit more of an Apple fanbeing than I am, and so I don’t think that Apple hardware has quite the apotheostic effect that you describe, but your point about staying with what you’re familiar with is dead on.

    Interesting comparison. Thanks for the analysis!

    (As an aside, I assume that for any real typing that you use something with a hard keyboard? I’ve tried seriously typing on tablet a couple of times, and I find even the best soft keyboards are annoying for real typing after a while.)

  7. Craig Steffen:

    For anything more intensive than a short email I use a physical keyboard. The last tour, I used this. It did the job pretty well, although I would have been hesitant to write anything longer than a blog post on it — the keyboard is just a teeny bit too small for extended typing sessions. But for day-to-day email, blogging and social media? Pretty cool. And it made for a decent tablet for doing my readings off of.

  8. I think you captured that very well. I lean IOS myself but only because that is what I use most. I have a secret hope that Microsoft will someday take over the space – but they just keep choking. I do have some hope with Win 10.

  9. i’ve been following computing for almost 20 years and higher specs have never meant better performance. my first PC had an AMD 133MHz CPU that was outperformed by a 75MHz Pentium. We had 5GHz CPU’s in the 90’s and except for the late 1990’s as GHz speed has gone down, performance increased.

    system architecture and software optimization always beats raw speed

  10. I’ve got both iOS and Android devices. Prefer Android. Widgets and icon placement win. iOS infuriates me with the ridged home screen/page layout restrictions and lack of customization options. A grid of icons left to right, top to bottom. That’s it. Want a space between two icons? Hahahahahaha. The ghost of Jobs says NO!

    Hardware is super solid though. IMO Apple has been surpassed by both Google and Microsoft. They now coast powered by reputation and ecosystem lock-in, because their last product launch certainly didn’t generate any excitement.

  11. You said your home button broke. You might try turning on assistive touch. This puts a virtual home button on the screen.

    Physical buttons tend to be the most fragile parts, as are o/off switches. I just use assistive touch all the time.

  12. Ghz is an archaic measure of performance. For instance, the processor on the nexus is 32 bit, while the iPad has one that is 64 bit.

    Clearly, it has more bits. 32 more. Bits.

  13. Screen as good as the iPad? Samsung Galaxy tab s… arguably better, though looking at the two side-by-side, I’m pushed to tell the difference.

    But, I ran headlong into the Apple approach to doing things when I recently bought my wife an iPad mini (the 3, with 128gb, because, you know, no expansion…).
    I thought “I’ll set it all up for her ahead of time”… …
    “Okay, I’ll put just some free apps” .
    “Right, can’t set up apps. I’ll just copy across lots of media files…”, nope. Has to go through itunes, so .

    It’s frustrating to have the thing there and to not be able to do any pre-gifting setup.
    Was it Jerry Pournelle who suggested that with Apple products, what you want to do is either easy, or impossible?

  14. Huh. I am now weirdly curious about the size of your hands. Any chance we could get a picture of your hand on the iPad mini for a size comparison?

  15. At least the new Mini has 2GB RAM. Like MS of old, each new iteration of iOS demands more and more memory. I had to abandon my original iPad for just this reason. One can only hope the Apple iThingies will increase RAM by powers of two while memory demand increases linearly.

    My tastes go toward bigger. I am intrigued by the new iPad Pro (with 4GB) which appears to have the same dimensions as the video pads used by Bowman and Poole in 2001 A Space Odyssey. I 2001 fan since it first debuted, I swore I would get one if such a thing ever came out. The iPad Pro may be it (?).

    I agree with Craig Stephan above!

  16. I think you’ve nailed why Apple products are so popular and useful, despite the fact most other manufacturers may be ahead of the game in specs, Scalzi.

    I used to use Android phones, and before that Handspring Treos. My experience went from “Great Potential but Gods is this frustrating!” to “Not bad – wish it could do more though” to “Pretty good – I can almost use this for most of my day-to-day computing needs.” A bit shy of two years ago, I got my first iPhone (the 5S) – and I was like Root hearing The Machine whisper to her on Person of Interest (a great show, BTW – everybody who loves SF, or is concerned about the Surveillance State or private data mining, should watch it!)! There is some combination of build quality, design and software integration that – just works, in a way a Windows or Android machine doesn’t really…. Provided you do things The Apple Way!

    That said, the lack of external storage, Siri’s mediocrity compared to Google Voice or Cortana, and several other niggling features just leave me wondering if I haven’t been bewitched somehow.

  17. The Apple craving switch has never tripped on me, through all the iterations (Back to Apple ][). I always find the icons and menus completely counter-intuitive, like Mrs. Letson. I don’t want the newest shiniest most status thing, and certainly not one that makes me feel inferior to it and requires a walled garden. And dear lord, anything but iTunes.

    I still have my Creative Zen MP3 player and it works just fine (on replaceable batteries!). I bought it AFTER iPods had been out for a while, even.

    I’m trucking along on a first-gen Nexus 7, and while I sometimes wish it had a little more memory, it Just Works. I have no extraneous mass of icons on the startup screen, only the ones I need the most. The clutter isn’t there, but with one touch, I can find all my apps on one screen. Most of my home screen is lovely blank space.

    The Nexus/Google ecosystem is perfectly well integrated too. I can even put the stuff from my Nexus right onto my TV.

    Also I like ’em skinnier and taller (that’s what she said) too, since I have little tiny girly hands. I’m pretty fast with the Nexus on-screen keyboard; the husband’s downloaded a slightly different keyboard to his.

    And of course, there’s price. Still important to many of us!

  18. Wow, John. This article was particularly phenomenal. It described the thoughts that everyone thinks in their heads, but can’t form into words, or just doesn’t. I think everything in the article here is 100% true, and you wrote it very well, I might add.

    Just as a little thing to add, I feel that the popularity of the iPhone also plays a role. The fact that it has so much of the U.S. Market, as you mentioned Microsoft only has 3%, that’s the purpose of people buying it so much. I, myself, am guilty of it too, that even though I realize that Samsung may be better, Apple has clouded my sense of judgement and made me dependable only on their products. The same is for the Beats headphones as well, it is simply in the popularity.

    Thanks again for a good post and have a great day, John! Will definitely share with friends; this article has such good insight, I must. :)

    See you around,
    Aditi Pallod

  19. Question about others’ experience with the Nexus 7. I have had a Nexus 7 since August 2012. For the first 1 to 1-1/2 years I liked it a lot for the reasons John describes. And although my phones are Apple the idea of using and supporting a more open system was appealing (old-time Unix(tm) guy speaking).

    I’m also aware of security issues so I have regularly installed system and app updates from Google (one of the reasons I went with the nexus rather than a traditional brand was the availability of updates from Google) and individual app vendors. Now the system has slowed down to a crawl and every time I put in a system update it gets slower. I suspect if I could reset and reload the system from a backup these problems might resolve at least a bit. But I have not been able to find a procedure for doing that – at least one that doesn’t involve jailbreaking. There doesn’t seem to be an equivalent of the iPhone ‘reset and recover from backup’ upgrade process.

    Has anyone else experienced this gradual slowdown with the N7? Were you able to fix it and if so how? Thanks!

  20. Liked my iPad 2. Bought iPad mini and liked it more. Upgraded to iPad mini 3 .. Still works great, does most everything I don’t need to do on a desktop or laptop system. Tha Apple Bluetooth keyboard works well with Plaintext and Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, and anything else that needs real keyboard input, when needed. A Lightning USB connector lets me use the full size Apple wired keyboard too, when I want that.

    … Paper by 53 and their Pencil stylus are just wonderful drawing tools, speaking of other input devices …

    I own and use the whole yard of Apple stuff, not because I’m some kinda fanboy but because I work for the company. I document various bits of Apple stuff and need to know how it works. Do I need all of it? Likely not, but, eh? They pay me for my insights, writing, and criticism of the products. I write a lot of bug reports. :-)

    I buy my Apple gear for myself and use it. A lot. It’s mine, not the company’s. I figure that’s the only way to really know whether there’s a problem, to have some blood in the soup, as it were.

    Of course I wouldn’t work for the company if I didn’t believe in the products first. I liked what Apple started making a couple of decades back and thought I might help make all of it just a little bit better, as well as pay for my tennis sneakers and tee shirts … never mind the rent. And, by and large, the stuff continues to get a little better. Nothing’s perfect. We keep trying.

    Most of all, though, l love the people at Apple and their willingness to *try* to make the things a little better, every day, in many small ways. And they—we—all pull together when a problem comes up. Great people … They inspire the products through their love and passion.

    That’s why I’m so happy to read what you have to say about the iPad mini 4. It says to me that a little of what Dave, and Paul, and Nancy, and Ben, and Ken, and Nidhi, and Jeanne, and so many others (including me in some tiny way) worked so hard to put into it has surfaced and made you smile.

    Thank you.

  21. There’s an important item that should appear in these list but never seems to – and this is true for almost all technological items. Speed ( MHz, 0-60, top) and capacity ( memory, fuel/range) are hardly important to the total experience of a device/vehicle and yet they’re the almost exclusive focus of people that insist on spec-shopping.
    The really important item is a measure of how well it actually works. That’s because it is too difficult to make a single number from it, and people do seem to like a single number even when it is meaningless.
    This, by the way, is also part of why the education system almost everywhere has been hijacked by purportedly objective ‘tests’.
    Despite many irritating flaws Apple devices usually end up about the best for that last crucial item on the spec list, even if the MHz isn’t the highest. It’s also worth bearing in mind that their private implementation of the ARM64 architecture is quite a lot better than most when it comes to real world results.

  22. I suspect a high fraction of your reading audience aren’t in the demographic that Apple aims for – I certainly am not, even though I use Apple products consistently. Apple tries to make their products dead simple to use by people with absolutely no interest in technology. My mom and grandmom are their targets, not anyone who can tell a bit from a byte. We can wail all we want about lock-in, walled gardens, internal specs, etc., and they’ll ignore us, because we’re a small fraction of the size of the their target audience. But, as I get older and find that there are other things I’d rather do than troubleshoot a tech/software conniption in my computer, I’m finding that I’m more and more appreciative of their approach…

  23. I am not sure that size preference is a function of hand size. I have hands which are fully in scale with being 6’4″ and have never got comfortable with full size tablets. I have a Nexus 7 which sits comfortably in one hand without any sense of strain which makes it far more useful to me than something larger would be.

    As for the iOS/Android war, a great deal comes down just to what you are used to. I mainly use android devices, when I do use iOS it all feels a bit weird (and sometimes downright counter-intuitive). Many people, of course, have exactly the opposite experience.

  24. Mind you, the “best” experience is a subjective thing; in this case it’s defined as “Whatever the design folks at Apple decide it is.” But they have a pretty good track record, and they’re willing to wait to let other people make all the mistakes, because that means they’re on someone else’s time and budget.

    I think that may be true with respect to technology (wait to see what others do), but Apple has generally been ahead of the curve when it comes to the user experience side of things. So what a lot of people (especially computer-literate people) view as irrationality, going with a device that has inferior technical specs compared with another? It’s not necessarily. It’s partly subjectivity and partly that there’s a cost to learning how to carry out tasks on a different device, and that cost may be high even if it’s amortized over time.

    On the subjective side of things, I’m reminded of an argument that car people sometimes get into, about a manual versus an automatic transmission. For me, a stick shift with a clutch is fun! That’s worth something to me, even if getting where I’m going takes a few seconds longer and a few more teaspoons of gas than an automatic would. If an Apple tablet is more fun than a Nexus, that should factor into someone’s choices.

  25. I grok the “ooh, this *fits* me” sensation (although I’ve never felt it for Apple products). My Surface tablets hit that sweet spot for me, and it’s a nice feeling to find the tools that fit right in your hands (literally and metaphorically).

    As for the comment about Apple being slightly behind the curves specs-wise, that’s for the best of reasons — supply. Having a reliable source of your compnents (cheap, plentiful, and available) is key to the volumes that Apple shifts. I personally think that their attention to their supply chain (and their willingness to limit device options so they *can* lock in their supply chain) is just as big of a factor to their current market success as their device and UI design. They’re also a company that gets the principles of getting “enough” functionality.

  26. If you love Apple (and I do) put the latest OS on a five-year-old lap-top. That will test your marriage to the limits ;-)

  27. I’m Android and Windows all the way – never owned an Apple device, though I fix them for other people. To me, they all do the same things – in completely different ways, but that’s the interface only. And since 99% of the time I’m looking at an iDevice, I want to get in and fix it, I definitely don’t get the feeling of perfection. I like my Androids.

    sPh – I also have a 2012 Nexus, with all the upgrades (it’s running Lollipop now). It’s not wonderfully fast but it doesn’t seem much slower than it was when I first got it, either. I have done a factory reset several times (I rooted it, Kitkat unrooted it, I rooted it again and unrooted it later, various other things), which might be making the difference. There’s no backup as such without rooting, but if you do a factory reset, log in to Google, and wait a few hours, it will recover many of your settings. You can reinstall any of your Play Store apps from My Apps/All, though you’ll have to log in again and do some setup. It’s a lot more of a pain to do than resetting a Palm and restoring from backup (I’ve done that), but not all that bad. And if the slowdown is making it unusable, definitely worth trying. Back up any apps that have their own backup, though, it’ll help.

  28. I have to take issue with this article. The only excuse needed to leave someone for Rosario Dawson is “I’m really sorry, but Rosario Dawson wants to go out with me”.

  29. Dana says:
    If you love Apple (and I do) put the latest OS on a five-year-old lap-top. That will test your marriage to the limits ;-)

    Hmm.

    Hi Dana, I put El Capitan onto my mid-2011 MacBook Air 13″ (1.85 Mhz, 4G RAM, 128G drive). It seems just a little more responsive than it was with Yosemite. No problems using it yet. Otherwise much of the same. What should I be looking for?

    Thx!

  30. Plus one for the Nexus 7 lurv. For me, the form factor feels just like a paperback, perfect for reading. Might be nice to have something with e-ink so I could read outside on sunny days, but, well, I live in Amsterdam.

    Not sure what I’ll do when this one breaks, as they’re not making them any more…

  31. Ah, the Betamax Blues; It was a sad day for me last week when Zune was essentially put out to pasture, though it will continue to work as a standalone MP3 (at least for awhile). Suspect that there is a Sansdisk player in my future sometime next year for those long drives when I don’t want to run my phone battery down to nothing.

  32. “I don’t know what terrifying deal Jony Ive made with the devil, ”
    I think Jobs made the original deal, since it resulted in an actual user friendly Unix (MacOS is BSD Unix under the hood. Bash shell and everything.)

  33. As a dedicated Nexus 7 user (I’m on my second one… darn digitizer failures…) I have a question for the assembled masses:

    Given that the Nexus 7 is no more, what should my next tablet be when this one bites the dust? What’s good in the 7-inch range that isn’t full of (*cough* Samsung *cough*) unremovable nonstandard high-permissions crapware, but gets something close to a stock Android experience.

  34. I have one of the original Nexus 7’s .. it gradually slowed down noticeably. I applied the last major Android update early this year and it seemed to make it worse. So I went through a lengthy process to roll back to the prior version .. where I remain today. My N7 is usable but no longer with snappy performance. I’ve read where these models used an inferior NAND memory that actually wears and slows with use. All of this is well documented on the Google Nexus 7 support web pages.

  35. If you are a Windows PC person, you might look at the current crop of tablets that run Windows. I have a Toshiba 8 inch Encore 2 that is on W10. I have it set to mostly resemble the Windows we are used to and not the more tablet like ‘metro’ interface. With only 1 GB ram .. performance is actually quite acceptable and most of your favorite Windows apps e.g. Word Excel Powerpoint Outlook, etc run just fine. These seem to be in the $100 _ $150 range.

  36. I enjoyed your perspective, John, but I don’t feel the same way about Apple products. I’ve got an iPhone and iPad mini, and a Samsung Galaxy 10.1. The Samsung is my tablet of choice. I still use the iPad for some things, but the Apple ecosystem makes me feel trapped and smothered. I like being able to slide in a micro SD card and max out my memory. I like being able to drag and drop files from my PC to my Samsung without the interference of iTunes. I don’t like constantly running out of memory on my Apple devices, and having to decide what to remove to get them functional again (and I’m even more irritated by iOS updates that consume more and more of my fixed memory).

    Honestly, my Apple stuff remains only through my personal inertia, because I have so much invested in their apps. I just switched to the large iPhone 6+ with 128 GB, and now I’m using my iPad less and less. My guess is that eventually I’ll drop the iPad (the 6+ lets me use all the apps and games I paid for fairly comfortably) and continue with an iPhone and an Android tablet. But if I ever have to choose one or the other, I’m going Android.

  37. Thomas: Yep. It’s a good thing OGH works from home, or his next report would be filed from a long-disused mass-burial site located a few miles from the bustling conurbation of Bradford, OH … and it wouldn’t look good at all, at all. :-)

  38. Ah, friends, may I expand the scope here a bit? (“Sure,” I say, talking to myself.) Apple has been my home computer since 1984 or so. After a power surge, the old iMac died, so I had to get a brand new iMac. Guess what? Behaving like the classic 800-pound Apple Corp., NOTHING IMPORTANT on the old iMac works on the new one … in particular all the hundreds of files I’ve created in AppleWorks, and all the familiar games, are kaput. I understand about new processors and all that, but at a mature age, all my databases are gone, and why do I have to learn my 15th new work processor command set, and my 10th new spreadsheet set, and the various hidden quirks of the new software, just because Apple doesn’t support AppleWorks anymore? Don’t they still have the source code? Cannot it be recompiled for the new processor? (And I won’t even mention the execrable Bluetooth keyboard that came with the new iMac.)

    Oh, well, if you’ve read this far, your reward is to be urged to read “The Sympathizer,” by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

  39. So…. the iPad is the super hot girl you can’t believe you’re dating and the Nexus is your best friend who you like to hang out with and has “a great personality”? Dude, you’ve got problems. Full disclosure: I have a Nexus 7 myself and love it, and I wouldn’t touch an iAnything with a 10 ft pole. Yeah, I’ve got problems, too.

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