Review: Nexus Tablet Showcases Google Media Play
NEW YORK - When I first turned on Google’s new tablet computer, I immediately thought of it as a mere conduit to Google services.
Besides giving you quick access to Gmail and YouTube, the Nexus 10 steers you to digital movies, books and other content available for sale through Google’s online Play store.
Because of that, I wasn’t thinking of the Nexus 10 as an alternative to Apple’s general-purpose iPad - even with a price tag that’s $100 cheaper, starting at $399. It took more thought and time with the Nexus to change that perception. After all, apps available for Android smartphones work on the tablet as well.
Still, the Nexus really shines when it comes to media - especially content bought through Google.
For the past year, Google has been trying to challenge Apple and Amazon by selling digital content.
The Play store is Google’s version of iTunes for Apple devices. There, you can get a variety of apps, some free and some for a small fee. You can buy or rent movies and obtain books, magazines and music. Google isn’t satisfied with building search engines and selling ads. It wants a bigger role in the digital economy.
Over the summer, Google came out with a 7-inch tablet called the Nexus 7. Just as Apple is making an iPad Mini that’s about the size of the Nexus 7, Google is now selling a larger version of the Nexus, about the size of Apple’s regular iPad. It starts shipping this week.
On the Nexus 10, icons at the bottom of the screen emphasize Google’s media products available through Play. Click on a picture of film to watch movies, headphones to listen to music and a book to, well, read books. Another icon gets you to the Play store to obtain more content and apps.
The Nexus has a rubberized back and fits more snuggly on my lap than the metal-backed iPad. In my hands, I don’t feel as if the Nexus would slip out and crash on to the hard floor, as I continually do with the iPad.
There are front-facing speakers going up and down both sides of the Nexus, compared with just one tucked in a corner on the back of an iPad. You feel more immersed watching video with sound coming right at you from the entire device. I hadn’t considered that a problem on the iPad, but I began to notice it once I played video on the tablets side by side.
The screen measures 10.1 inches diagonally, which is more than the iPad’s 9.7 inches. But the screen isn’t any larger because while it’s about an inch wider in horizontal mode, it’s also about a half-inch less in height. This works well for widescreen content, which completely fills the screen. On the iPad, the latest movies and TV shows often have black bars, no matter how you hold the tablet. In some cases, you might see the sides of video cut off to fit the space, as I did watching this week’s episode of "Revenge" on Hulu. Again, I hadn’t considered that a problem on the iPad, until I began to notice it.