March 8, 2013

For a month or so, we’ve used all three of the latest Google Nexi: Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. I love ’em – so much more capable and open than any iDevice, yet strangely different from each other, for no apparent reason except that they’ve been manufactured by different corporations.

I’m not going to do an in depth review, just point out some of the quirks.

Background – we use Apple i-stuff just like anyone else. iTunes was getting irksome in that you have to use it to do anything with the devices, and unlocking a pair of AT&T iPhone 3GS’s proved almost impossible. They are being used as Skype clients instead of the original Cisco ‘iphone’ for Skype.

We still have an iPod 3rd generation which is being increasingly isolated to be used to play Solitaire, as a Tune-In client and a Logitech wifi mouse client. We had an iPad 2, which was given to a family member.

The scenarios which play into this are several:

1) We’re big fans of camping in a camper van. Part of this scenario is to play a movie or two over a bottle of wine when the temperatures drop and the campfire has gone out. In the past we’ve employed DVD players and a laptop to play the movies. Most recently, the iPad 2. The big problem is that you couldn’t just turn up with the iPad and a bunch of (virtual) DVDs to select from, you had to load the vid onto the iPad in advance if you wanted to watch it. So mood wasn’t a factor, you played what you had, which turned out more often than not, to play nothing.

2) Sometimes, we’re interested in Photography, and both of us have fairly serious DSLR cameras and lenses to work with. When we used the laptop, we could simply take the SD card out of the camera and have an instant slide show to watch by plugging it in to the laptop. With the iPad, you had to load all of the photos on the iPad memory before you could start watching the slide show, and clear them off afterwards. Remember. with 12 and 16 Megapixels sensors saving both raw and highest quality JPEG, this could take several minutes and loads of memory.

3) We’d had cheap ($20 per 3 months) pay as you go cell service from Virgin Mobile (Sprint) for lo these many years. It works, actually pretty well, but we simply don’t make phone calls or send texts very much. We kind of use the devices, say, in Costco, to call up and ask, ‘where the hell are you, I’m waiting at the checkout!’ radio kind of things. I have played around with a mifi 2200 from Virgin, but it was frustrating, because Sprint 3G connectivity where we are is very spotty, and everything took ages to download.

1) The first of the Nexi to arrive was the Nexus 7. Wait! You can plug in an OTG (on-the-go) cable, connect a USB hub with a multi Gigabyte 2.5 inch drive and have the biggest video library you can imagine – without copying it to your device! Solves the camping problem in one swell foop. Works on the Nexus 10, too (but not the 4).

2) Likewise, with the OTG cable, one can plug in the SD card to watch slide shows of images on the SD card, that you don’t have to copy to the device. (Nexus 10 also, but not Nexus 4)

3) For $30 / month T-mobile has a web only plan that has 100 minutes of talk, unlimited texts, and unlimited data (actually throttled to 100 kbps after 5Gb). In this location, I seem to be able to get HSPA+ 3.75G connectivity nearly all the time at speeds between 3 and 30 mbps. Whooee!

Odd differences:

Both Nexi 4 and 10 do both 2.4 and 5GHz wifi. 7 does only 2.4. What this means is if I’m trying to watch live TV from a couple of TV tuners on my HDHomeRun, the 2.4 GHz is more likely to get swamped by the legion of 2.4 Ghz ‘2-Wire’ routers that abound here. By the way, I’ve found that XBMC (Frodo) is the way to make that work.

Nexus 4 has a neato converter that plugs into the micro-USB port, and churns out HDMI. What this means is that I can use Skifta on this tiny thing and have full up 1080p videos on my TV using DLNA on our Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra Plus 4. No Apple TV. Sweet. Not quite full screen, though. Close.

Nexus 10 has a micro HDMI port which works the same way. That’s good.

Nexus 7 doesn’t. At all.

But what is so refreshing is that one is not *dependent* on Google Play. You can download and install stuff from any source you choose, unlike iTunes. And, and this is the deal-maker, you don’t get charged $100 per year to write code that works on your own devices. Liberty. Yea!

Categories: computery stuff
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