Just four months after debuting its first tablet, the Nexus 7, Google is at it again with a 10-inch model that'll launch just in time for the holidays.
This time Google teamed up with Samsung to make the Nexus 10, which goes on sale November 13 for $399. The Nexus 10 outperforms many tablets in its class: it weighs 603 grams, has a 1.9 MP front-facing camera, a 5 MP rear-facing camera, a 1.7GHz A15 dual-core processor, and 2 GB of RAM.
It even has a sharper screen than the iPad's Retina display.
So on paper, the Nexus 10 is a champion. But like other Android tablets, it's missing some key user-facing ingredients, most notably apps optimized for the larger screen.
The Nexus 10 feels like a solid tablet. I really like the rubber backing. It doesn't feel like its going to slip off of a table or fall out of my hand.
As I was going through the initial set up of the device it took a little bit longer than expected. This delay could have been my personal internet connection instead of a device issue. But the software was a little choppy and a few apps froze and crashed after using it for a couple of hours. It wasn't a huge problem, but still very annoying.
Samsung took a lot of design cues from its Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet in the Nexus 10. Since Samsung has been sued out the nose by Apple for supposedly copying the iPad's design, the speakers are not tacked on to either side of the screen. It's not the prettiest solution, but it is a better experience when listening to audio.
But the real hero is the display. Once I powered the device on it was easy to see how nice the screen is. It doesn't get as bright as the iPad's Retina display, but it is noticeably sharper.
The App Problem
Google recently said that its Play Store now has more than 700,000 apps.
But a large majority of those apps are designed for smartphones, not tablets with larger screens. Most apps you find on the Nexus 10 will just be blown up versions of what you'd use on the smartphone.
That's not good.
Google says it's working on getting more tablet-optimized apps in the Play Store, but I'm not nearly as optimistic as it is. Android tablets have been around for about two years. Developers have had plenty of time to get their act together. It's clear the interest just isn't there for Android tablets yet.
Yes, you'll still get many of the basics like Netflix and Evernote, but even must-have apps like Twitter aren't optimized for the larger screen. Google has some work to do convincing developers that Android tablets are here to stay.
Android On A Tablet
The great part about owning one of Google's Nexus devices is that you get a pure version of the software without modifications from the device's manufacturer. And Jelly Bean, the new version of Android that ships with the Nexus 10 works very well on the big screen.
Although Jelly Bean launched in July, it has a few more tweaks and updates on the Nexus 10.
Since most people use the tablet at home, the Nexus 10 lets you create separate profiles for each user, just as you would on a desktop PC you share with your family. Each person can customize his or her own home screen, apps, and settings. Parents can also control what kind of content their kids have access to. If you're looking for a family-centric tablet, the Nexus 10 is a good bet.
Also included with the Nexus 10 is Google's voice-powered assistant called Google Now. Google Now is very similar to Siri, but works in conjunction with your Google account to bring you the information you care about like sports scores, weather, and even the status of packages from Amazon that have been shipped to you.
With a strong Wi-Fi connection, websites loaded fast and using YouTube was a breeze. The 2 GB of RAM helped apps open quickly and made multi-tasking very efficient.
For the productivity conscious, it's dead simple to download Google Drive and keep productive on the go.
Drive, formerly Google Docs, works well, although I tried creating a document without an Internet connection and was met with an error. Once I was connected again, I had no problem creating the document.
I enjoyed playing games on the device too. The first one I tried was the new Need For Speed Most Wanted. The racing game really showed off the Nexus 10's graphics capabilities, and the excellent soundtrack came through clearly on the front-facing speakers. The Nexus 10 makes one awesome portable gaming machine.
Battery life stood its ground, but did not measure up to the iPad's impressive 10 hours. After watching videos, browsing the Internet, and playing games, I was able to squeeze about seven and a half hours out of the Nexus 10.
Should You Buy It?
Google is getting there with tablets and its latest line of Nexus devices proves the point. Overall, the $199 Nexus 7 feels like a better buy, but you won't be disappointed shelling out an extra $200 to get a similar experience on a 10-inch screen.
For Android fans, it's a definite must-buy. But Android newbies may find the software a bit difficult to figure out at first.
In short, you should ask yourself if you want a cheaper tablet with more customization. If so, go with the Nexus 10. If not, the iPad is easier to use and has a much better ecosystem of games, apps, movies, and TV shows.
Google's Nexus 10 is available in two sizes, 16GB and 32GB, which retail for $399 and $499 respectively.
More From Business Insider