I've had a Google Nexus 7 tablet for a little while now, and I'm a bit worried that my hands may soon just merge with the slick touch screen, transforming me into a 21st century Inspector Gadget.
Unlike previous Android tablets and my much-scorned Nook Tablet, I've had trouble putting down my Nexus 7 in recent weeks. I've also found that -- unlike the iPad -- it's just small enough to slip into the pocket of a pair of baggy pants and always have at arm's length.
Then a really strange thing happened this week while hanging out on the couch watching the Olympics. With my Nexus 7 in my hands, and both my smartphone and laptop just a few feet away on a table, I found myself performing tasks on the tablet that had previously been restricted to the domain of other devices.
I dashed off e-mails, filled out Web forms, and did some word-processing and spreadsheet work using voice commands and input through the Swype beta keyboard I recently installed. At one point I checked my voicemail via the Skype app and then went to make a phone call via Google voice, only to be irritated when I remembered that Google would have to call my smartphone to connect the call.
How annoying to have to pick up this other device over here, I thought.
I know many of you already use your iPads and other tablets to send e-mails and do much of the above, but for full-time writers like myself, the notion of the touch screen replacing the satisfying haptic feedback of a clicking keyboard is disturbing at best, and reason to go back to the quill and ink bottle at worst.
Yet with the Nexus 7 in my hands, I felt at home with the touch screen for the first time. Android Jelly Bean has improved what worked from previous iterations and integrated enough of what works in iOS to feel almost as comfortable for being lightly productive as Windows does. If I were to look into adding a Bluetooth keyboard (I'm planning to soon), or I were a Linux hacker at heart, I'm sure it would feel even more homey.
Yes, I'm now writing this on my laptop, but I also know that I could easily switch over to my Nexus 7 in a pinch to finish up some work, and that's saying a lot for an ink-stained wretch such as myself who's not quite of this millennial generation.
That realization got me thinking -- could this really be it? Could the Nexus 7 really be the only one for me? Is it time to settle down into mobile device monogamy?
It seems almost possible. I've already covered how Jelly Bean is almost good enough for me to swear off the desktop OS, but what about my smartphone?
The form factor that Asus came up with for the Nexus 7 (or that Google picked out after the fact for the Nexus 7, more likely) is really key here. After spending time with the Nook, Kindle Fire, and iPad, it's amazing that Google has made it even easier to take the Nexus 7 with you. My instinct is to use it as a communications device as much as an entertainment and productivity hub.
After all, the larger screen makes it easier to manipulate than my Droid Razr (itself a pretty big phone), meaning looking up contacts and Swyping out texts is quicker.
Would I hold a 7-inch tablet up to my ear like a phone? In a pinch, why not? I'd be happy to start the huge-phone trend, but more likely, I'd be happy to use a Nexus 7 as my primary smartphone with a Bluetooth headset, or even an old-school wired headset. That'd help make it an easier sell to the less tech-savvy as well.
As you can see, I'm seriously fantasizing about ditching all my other devices and PCs in favor of one uber-tablet like the Nexus 7. Unfortunately, the Nexus 7 isn't quite there yet, even though it's oh so close and has shown me that it's possible.
There are some basic things missing, like more optimization for landscape mode and better productivity apps. Fortunately, Asus has some experience working on such things with its Transformer line, so perhaps it's worth rooting for the manufacturer's partnership with Google to grow and prosper.
And, of course, my Nexus 7 will never replace my phone without some sweet 4G LTE service to keep me connected. Hotspotting my smartphone to make calls through my tablet doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I'm trying to simplify here, after all.
So, note to Google, Asus, Apple, Samsung, and anyone else trying to crack the tablet code: It's time to finally give us the everything device. Take a hard look at the Nexus 7, throw a little more productivity heft in there along with a 4G radio, and sign some deals with carriers. My Go-Go-Gadget arms are ready to dock with the right device, perhaps permanently.