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Nexus 7
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. . Nexus 7 GPS. .

After several months of covetousness, in Feb 2013 I bought a Google Nexus 7 tablet.  Having worked in IT for most of my life, it takes something rather special to impress me technologically, but this gadget is stunning. There is an astonishing selection of free software available for it. Almost all of it is very good, so ignore a lot of the crass comments left by other reviewers.  I test and support software applications for a living (at least when I have a job at all...) and it is mostly stable and well thought out.

Iíve read endless reviews of the Nexus 7 over the last few months, and they are universally in praise of it.  It has 32Gb of storage, a screen which is as clear as reading a glossy magazine, and includes a GPS device far better than the dedicated device we bought 12 years ago.

Here are a few thoughts on its use, functionality, games, GPS & map software and how to wear or carry it.  Iíd welcome your thoughts.  Contact me.

Earlier today, 15th Feb 2013, I took it with me on foot to Twickenham. When I got back here I reviewed my route in Google Earth, and it even showed me the route I had taken inside a large shop.  I am amazed that it has been so tolerant of the wide variety of software I have installed on it in the last week.  Our Windows XP PC would have sulked off in protest.

There are several programs that allow you to select a bird and then hear its call, useful for Alice.  Iíve never been a great fan of computer games, but there are some very good thinking ones available, see below. 

The one most impressive feature is the software I added, Shazam, which identifies almost any piece of music it can hear.  Just hold the Nexus 7 up to the speaker.  Iíve got tapes Iíve recorded from the radio over the last 20-30 years, and from one at random it successfully identified the following obscurities, most of which you wonít know.

        • Danger Man Theme - Edwin Astley
        • Harley Davidson - Brigitte Bardot
        • That Ainít Nothing But Right - Mac Curtis
        • Got Love If You Want It - Warren Smith
        • Girl In A Sports Car - Chris Rea
        • Eastenders Theme - Simon May Orchestra (holding it up to the TV!)
        • I Still Write Your Name In The Snow - Chet Atkins
        • Smokestack Lightning - Howling Wolf
        • Little Boy - The Blue Rondos
        • Ronnie, Call Me When You Get A Chance - Shelley Fabares
        • Smoky Places - The Corsairs
        • Deep Elem Blues - Jerry Lee Lewis

You must admit, that is quite an odd list. It failed once, when i played a 1960s surfing instrumental, but it wasnít very loud. I donít think Iíd have scored 12/13 for those.

 

WEARABILITY

The naked device weighs 329g (Iím having a metric day!). It hasnít got noticeably heavier since I added 6Gb of data and apps. Iíve bought a faux leather wallet case, which adds 129g. The case gives it added protection, but rules out keeping it in a trouser pocket. Itís probably going to upset your tailor if you carried there anyway. Also it could fall out when sitting. Iíve also bought a couple of ebay screen protectors, not yet fitted. My first eBay stylius was useful, but the rubber tip fell off within a few days. The local pound shop has 5 stylii for a pound (what else?), but doesnít yet have any other add-ons for such a new product.

I might have a shirt with a pocket 12cm wide, but I doubt it.  I have a coat with a wide pocket that would take it, in the case, but it would start to wear through.  Now, 458g adds little to a handbag or case, but how are we going to carry them when traveling light? Iíve bought a neck-worn case, like hikers use for maps, but havenít yet used it.  I imagine the cord will weigh heavily on the back of my neck, unless I pad (Ipad?) the cord with something soft. I canít quite see myself walking into my local pub with it around my neck somehow, unless it catches on.  Plus it might catch on something too! If others started wearing it on a belt next to the thigh, I might join in, but it would look odd around town or office. Possibly I could use the neck wallet under a shirt or t-shirt. The neck wallet would be useful to avoid dropping it.

Iíd welcome any other sartorial suggestions. Contact me.

 

GPS & MAPS

Iíve got many different types of GPS software and mapping applications loaded, while I test them all for meeting my needs.  Iíve started to comment here on my GPS software findings.

 

UTILITIES TO ENHANCE IT

Iíve added Pocket and Evernote for taking notes, ES File Manager, Translate, Amazon Kindle clone, Wifi Analyser, Skitch, and a couple of seismometers in case of earthquakes.  Swiss Army knife utilities. Convertpad utilitiy for measurement conversion.  XE currency converter.  GO keyboard enhancement

 

DATA & INFORMATION

So far Iíve added 2,000,000 English Wikipaedia articles, Boswellís ĎLife of Johnsoní, several heraldry books, dictionaries, and even an Ďappí as we experts call them, to convert Biblical units of measurement such as cubits and ells to modern equivalents. Idioms & Phrases.  The British Monarchy.  Internet Movie Database.  Bus Scout London bus scheduler. Skype.

 

GAMES

Iíve never been a fan of computer games, preferring real puzzles that you can accidentally drop, but I have now realised that there are some excellent brain games available for computers, often ideas that couldnít be realised as physical puzzles.  If you have a telephone or tablet that runs the Android operating system I recommend some of my favourites, all available from the Google Shop.  Itís quite a long review article so it has got its own page.

 

MINOR GRIPES

  • The forward-facing camera is probably useful for Skype, which Iím yet to use, but on the odd occasion I might want to take a photo with it, (yes, I know it look silly, but not as silly as those that do it with an iPad!!) thereís no easy way of telling if it is pointing in the right direction.  Even scanning a QR code would be tricky, not that Iíve tried that yet.  (Aside, last summer in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC I was amused to see a QR code right next to the ĎNo Camerasí sign. It took me ages, sitting there drawing the code over an old crossword...)
  • Iíd like a picture of a badger that responded to different gestures or strokes or caresses.
  • Iíd like the digital time display in the top right corner to have an option to use the format hhmmss, showing seconds.
  • Iíd like to be easily able to toggle with one (key)stroke between two apps.  This would be so useful when simultaneously using an app and reading its documentation, or using a map and a guide book, or to have two maps open at different zoom levels for the same place.
  • Finally, Iíd like a Chrome shortcut to allow jumping back to the top of a browser page, rather than scrolling endlessly back up..

Iím sure someone will fix the last three gripes before long. Contact me.

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