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Google Nexus 10 Review

Rarer than an honest politician, I’ve finally got my paws on a Nexus 10. Is it the big tablet Android fans are waiting for? Or is it just a very expensive dust collecting frisbee? Read on to find out more.

The Price.

A fairly reasonable £319 or £389 from the Google Play Store – when they’re in stock. They come in 16gb and 32gb flavours, and unless you’re an app hoarder you should be fine with the 16gb.

The Box.

Rip off the cellophane and you get an easy to open box with the tablet in full view. Not much apart from a charger, USB charging cable and the tablet. Surprisingly big instruction manual which will find its way to the circular filing cabinet on the floor I suspect.

The Specs.

It’s not a premium device. None of that all cool to the touch brushed metals here. We have functional, tacky to the touch plastic which does the job, but you’d never really want to show it off. Compared with a Surface or iPad, it has function but you’d never describe it as beautiful. And it had to have a flimsy bit of plastic – hey, it’s a Samsung built device, but luckily, it’s relegated to a back panel hiding the device details and some magnets for cases. Personally, I find the Nexus 7 texture a lof nicer to hold.

The Design.

There’s a few niggles with the hardware design. The buttons feel too cramped. I keep hitting the volume down instead of power. The volume controls aren’t intuitive. Basically volume up / down stay the same in landscape and portrait which is confusing. The case has a bit of crackle in the centre. The size and thinness being the probable suspects. It doesn’t feel sturdy the way the Xoom, Microsoft Surface or iPad do.

Front facing speakers! Yay! Unlike the Nexus 7 where you need the hearing of Superman to make anything out the Nexus 10 audio qualities are most satisfactory for a tablet device.

Weirdly cut out headphone jack. It goes across the case and looks a bit like a production error. Had a closer look and a few other N10’s and it’s a design “feature”. Not a major issue but emphasises the less than premium quality.

The Software

Android homescreen

Widgets make iOS look dull and plain. Like comparing Pippa Middleton to Kate

Android 4.2 has been covered thoroughly so I’ll just add that it looks phenomenal on tablets. With space to stretch out and add widgets to your hearts content I think it looks better on bigger devices rather than smaller.

Google’s own apps look stunning. Swiping away emails in Gmail is strangely satisfying. Maps works without sending you to the middle of the sea and Google+ and Currents look especially good.. Currents is actually worth using just to check out the design.

This new design aesthetic is filtering through Android and it looks very nice. There are still some inconsistencies. Has anyone got the back button working consistently, and the overflow button still jumps around the shop but almost everything looks good now.

One of the major strengths of Android is the synching and integration with all of Google’s services. Your bookmarks will synch through Chrome. Your maps will have all your starred places and Google now pulls it all together to give you a slightly creepy, sometimes useful virtual assistant in the form of Google Now.

The Camera

You use the rear camera on your tablet? Don’t, just don’t. You’ll look like a total cock. The front facing camera does the job for video conferencing.

Google Play

Google Artist SearchTablets are ideal for media consumption and Google are catching up quickly with the competition on providing content. With the amount of data they have on me (I’m not embarrassed about my Debbie Gibson obsession, ahem), I’m surprised the recommendation engine isn’t better. Twilight. Really?

The Artist Search is a cool feature and you will spend ages traversing through it.

Here in the UK we’re still missing TV programmes but major content – books, films, magazines and music, is available. Pricing is nothing special and magazine prices are still, in my opinion, way too high for what they are.

A nice feature is the synching wishlist – however, this doesn’t cover the Google Play website which is strange. Movies synch across devices so if you own an Android phone or another tablet you can easily pick up from where you left off. This doesn’t include YouTube  – which also only plays content at standard definition rather than HD.

The Screen.

Nexus 10 Portrait Mode

Nexus 10 Portrait Mode

It’s just beautiful. Vivid. Striking. It’s so sexy I want to call it Scarlett, smear it with jam and lick it clean. It’s also pretty big, unlike Scarlett. And definitely designed for landscape use. Again, like Scarlett, ahem. The only use case for portrait mode is probably for magazines – they look beautiful though your hands will get tired. And I don’t recommend reading them in bed as you’ll risk smashing your nose when you doze off…

If you want to get an indoor tan crank the brightness up to maximum. You’ll probably need to do this anyway as the auto brightness function isn’t

The Good Stuff.

The screen is just gorgeous. Vivid, bright, it’s perfect for watching films. The front facing speakers are a touch of genius from the more typical rear or side mounted speakers. Android is maturing into an excellent tablet OS.

The Bad Stuff.

Apps. Next question? Oh, okay you want more details. There is still a lack of properly optimised tablet apps for the Nexus 10. The most frustrating being the missing iPlayer app!

Facebook and Twitter also need to get their fingers out and start working on tablet optimised apps. With the amount of effort they take cutting off rival services and API access you’d have thought they had nothing better to do. Optimise your apps!

Google Now, although much more useful than Siri, still lacks some awareness. For example, every map search you perform instantly comes up with a Now travel time card. Lots of the cool features are US centric.

Conclusion

If you love getting your content through Google, which I recommend simply so you don’t need to go near the cesspit of evil known as iTunes, then the Nexus 10 is seriously worth considering.

Two things hold me back from a wholehearted recommendation.

The form factor is suited for mainly home use. This is more to do with my preference for the 7″ form factor over the larger tablets. My Nexus 7 goes everywhere with me but the Nexus 10, like my discarded iPad looks like it will be stuck on my desk.

And app support is still patchy, and the two that are most frustrating, iPlayer and Sky Go are major omissions for the media centric tablet.

About Ken Liu