What I like and loathe about Google's Nexus 10
Google has unleashed its Nexus 10 tablet, one that's worthy of being a hero tablet for the 10-inch size class. It's the first tablet with a 2560 by 1600-pixel screen, the first 10.1-inch tablet with Android 4.2, and the first Android tablet with a dual-core A15 processor (the same processor Google uses in its new line of Chromebooks). Everything about the Nexus 10 screams attention to the finer details. But, while many of the Nexus 10's design points really resonated with me after using the tablet extensively, a few others left me irked.
What I love
The Nexus 10 has a gorgeous high-resolution display that packs in 300 pixels per inch, and it delivers on the hype. It's one of the few tablets that didn't make me cringe when I saw the text. Rather, text is smooth and crisp—better than I've seen on any Android tablet yet, and it matches or tops the Apple iPad's 264 ppi “Retina” display.
Another boon: The Nexus 10 is the first mainstream 10-inch tablet to rely on a standard MicroUSB connector for charging, just like its smaller sibling, the Nexus 7. (Acer's Iconia Tab A700 uses a variation on the standard MicroUSB for charging.) This is a great design choice since other devices in your gear bag likely use that cable, too. A MicroUSB cable is easy to find if you accidentally forget a charger; and the cables are inexpensive—in case you want to pick up extras to have on-hand.
I also liked the tablet's soft-touch backing, which makes the Nexus 10 easier to hold. Even better: A grippy, textured soft-touch paint, similar to the backing found on the Nexus 7, runs along the top inch and a half or so of the case when you hold it in landscape orientation. This worked really well for grabbing the tablet on-the-go, and to provide extra security while holding the tablet one-handed.
The Nexus 10 is the first 10-inch tablet that ships with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. It's also the first 10-inch tablet with any version of Android Jelly Bean, which made its tablet debut in the form of Android 4.1 on the Nexus 7. As on the Nexus 7, I found the lineup of core Google apps along the screen's bottom dock handy; same with the Google-supplied widgets for links into your library and recommended Google Play store content. The home screen has a prominent Google search bar at the top, much like on phones running the same software. The OS itself runs smoothly, with screens that glided beneath my fingertips as I navigated the tablet.
What leaves me unimpressed
For all that Google and Samsung have done right, I have few points I'm not thrilled with.
Let's start with the tablet's physical specs: The Nexus 10 measures 10.39 by 6.99 by 0.35 inches, and weighs 1.33 pounds. The dimensions are mostly in-line with what competing 10.1-inch tablets come in at, although Asus's Vivo Tab RT , which runs Microsoft's Windows RT, is slightly narrower in width. My bigger gripe lies with the weight. Yes, 1.33 pounds is noticeably lighter than the iPad's 1.44 pounds, but there are also several 10.1-inch tablets that still best the Nexus 10 in weight, including the 1.15-pound Vivo Tab RT.
Furthermore, the Nexus 10 lacks a MicroSD card slot. That means what you buy is all you get when it comes to storage. Considering the gorgeous display, it's highly likely you'll want to use this tablet for storing high-definition content, and without an expansion slot, you'll end up burning through your available space pretty quickly. Samsung's own current tablet flagship, the Galaxy Note 10.1 has a MicroSD card slot, and so does the svelte Vivo Tab RT. While the omission of a memory card slot is very Google (none the current Nexus devices support memory cards) and not at all a surprise, it's an annoyance nonetheless.
Finally, the new Android 4.2 operating system's rejiggering of the 10-inch tablet interface has made it somewhat less finger-friendly. No longer can you hold the tablet at the bottom corners and simply move a finger up slightly to activate notifications or change settings. Or tap to change apps or go home. It's become more of a two-handed operation now, much like the experience on Windows 8/Windows RT.
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