Nexus 7. Or why I won’t buy it.

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The Nexus 7 came out as leaked, and while I must say that I like the improvements Google managed to put into Android 4.1 (“Jelly Bean”), I won’t get the first tablet to run it (officially).

Not that I wasn’t in the market for a 7” tablet – the 6” Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch really makes me long for a nice 7” tablet – just because you can carry it with you, wherever you go without needing to carry some kind of a bag – wearing a jacket is just enough.

However, the Nexus 7 not only runs on NVidia’s Tegra 3, it does not support any kind of a video out. Seriously, this makes the Tegra 3’s USP (its immense video power, if we are to believe NVidia’s marketing department) not worth much. And there are other shortcomings. There is no way to add extra storage (in default mode, I am sure that there will be some decent hacks), you are limited to 8 or 16 Gigabytes, which in reality is even less, as the OS and apps are placed on this scarce storage too.

Let’s come to a few good points. The price is pretty good, considering that this is real 2012 hardware and not some old stuff, and the way they axed features in order to make this price is actually pretty well done: The display (1280x800px; IPS) is decent. There is one camera, for video chat – which is the most useful camera purpose on a tablet, imho. Android 4.1 is even better than the already awesome Android 4.0. Google is finally building its own content eco system – and there we are back at the cons. Much like Amazons $199 tablet (Kindle Fire), this device is mostly a frontend to some kind of content store – only slightly less locked down.

Yeah, I must admit that I am picky. I don’t want a Tegra 3 because of nVidia being “not so good” to “horrible” at supplying Linux drivers. I say “nope” because there is no video output – I would love a 7” tablet to power a dumb Lapdock, like the one Motorola supplied with the Atrix 4G, or the Clambook – just for the use cases where you need to do some work, but wouldn’t necessarily need your real, full-fledged notebook.

But then, after all, the Nexus 7 is definitely not the worst choice for an affordable, 7” inch Android tablet for Android enthusiasts. It’s much rather among the best choices you can make, if you can live with its shortcomings (storage, connectivity) – I can’t.

More details regarding the Smart Devices SmartV5 and SmartV7 MIDs

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This evening, after having written down that I was liking the new SmartV5 MID, which isn´ t yet available in Europe, although it might be in mainland china, back then assuming it was powered by an ARM Cortex A8 based CPU/SoC, i did some research I should have better done before.

As it turns out, these devices won´ t most likely be on par in terms of application speed with todays offerings like the Nokia N900.

The SoC being used by Smart Devices for their new offerings is most likely (almost certainly in fact, but not confirmed by Smart Devices) the Telechips TCC8900, an ARM11 based design enhanced with some additional circuits to be able to decode 1080p and encode 720p video, mostly used in PMPs.

This means that one cannot expect outstanding application performance from the new MIDs – but after all, this does not mean that they are “bad” deals – as the HDMI output makes them (at least this seems very likely after another visit to Smart Devices´ website) usable for presentations – as long as your (companys) beamer supports HDMI. Compared to the overall liked (mostly due to their low prices) predecessors, the Smart Q5 and the Smart Q7, this new devices will be better at multitasking (and be it multitabbing while surfing) – 256MB Ram is not that much, but still twice as much as the 128MB the former devices offered, and as the just mentioned memory will be a lot faster (DDR2@330MHz on the V* compared to DDR@133MHz on the Q*) the overall performance can be expected to be better.

Sources:

Comparison between V and Q devices on SmartDevices.com.cn (translated)

Some information on the Telechips TCC8900 (translated)

Telechips.com