I have had my new Google Nexus 7 tablet for about 6 weeks now, and I am getting more and more used to the way it works. I also continue to find neat litte surprises hidden in the system – such as if you attach it to a mouse you get a real cursor to use! (Wish the iPad had that.) So now I now have my 7″ tablet paired to my Apple wireless keyboard and my Rocketfish Bluetooth mouse. Seems to work pretty well actually. And everything is Bluetooth, so there are no extra cords or adapters to carry around. Now, if I had had this when I was vacationing up in the mountains this past weekend I would have actually typed some emails and blog posts. I think.
The screen is still a bit small, but that is to be expected on a totally portable device. But, is it that portable if you are lugging around the keyboard (which also has 3 AA batteries) and the mouse (which has 2 AAA batteries)? And with those devices attached, you would have to assume an extra drain on the Google tablet with the Bluetooth turned on all the time.
So what is the weight difference?
Well, the tablet weighs in at .75 pounds, but with case we are going to call it an even 1 pound, the keyboard at 1,25 pounds, and the mouse at 13 ounces (so lets call it .75 pounds). That gives us just 3 pounds total. Not bad. Consider that the Apple MacBook Air 11 inch weighs in at 2.38 pounds. The MacBook air weighs less and has a 4″ bigger screen! But, in reality, with the power packs it is probably a toss up between the two, and the MacBook air will cost you around $600 more than our tricked out Nexus 7. Trade offs? The MacBook Air can run more “real” apps, is faster, has a larger screen, and a lot more storage space. But the Nexus 7 is more portable, has a touch screen, and in a pinch (without our mouse an keyboard) could be slipped into a large pocket. It can also be recharged off almost any USB outlet where the MacBook Air will require a real power outlet.
If you have access to the Internet, either wi-fi or tethered to a smartphone like I do with my iPhone 4S, then the lack of storage space on the Nexus 7 isn’t that big a deal. You will just store your media, documents, and music in the cloud. You do need to think ahead though for those times when you will be totally out of contact so that you aren’t stuck looking for that one file you forgot to copy down. Consider though that the MacBook Air has only 64 gig (we are comparing to the low end model here folks) and you will see that you aren’t going to be storing your entire media library on there either.
While we are talking about being out in the wild, let’s talk about battery life. While I haven’t tested the battery life of the Nexus 7 with the Bluetooth turned on, you can still expect to get 8 to 9 hours easily. That is with active use. If you aren’t using it much so have it on standby, it will last much longer of course. The MacBook Air should get around half the battery life of the Nexus 7 in similar usage. That would be fine if you don’t need a full day out and can recharge ever evening, but if you have it out and in use constantly all day, you may find yourself monitoring your usage or looking for a power outlet to recharge.
Now one of the odd things I find different between the two is just levels of expectation. Since the Nexus 7 is smaller and originally just a base tablet, I don’t find myself expecting as much out of it as I might of the Air, so I am inclined to be less disappointed. With the Air being more expensive and essentially a “real” computer, I find myself disappointed when I try to do real computing tasks like run Windows 7 in Parallels or Photoshop or some other heavy program that takes not only processing power, but also screen real estate and memory.