I'm In The Market For A New Tablet But I'm Not Buying

2017-01-18

I’ve been in the market for a new tablet for about a year now. However, I haven’t bought one. And so far I have no plans to. I hope when someone looks at metrics such as tablet sales declining looks at why, because I’ll explain why I’m not buying.

My first real tablet was a Nexus 9. It was too big and it died within a week. Well, maybe it wasn’t my first real tablet, but I consider it that because the large display touchscreen device I had before was a convertable. Sure, it had a tablet mode, but I never used it that way. So I had a Nexus 9 for about a week and it died. I didn’t like the size of it, so when I returned it to Google, I opted for a refund instead of a replacement.

I replaced it with a Nexus 7 2013. They were cheap at the time, and still considered one of the best tablets available. This was right after I returned the Nexus 9, which I bought right at launch, so I got the Nexus 7 right at the end of 2014. I was completely happy with it. The size is right, it performs well, and I got a lot of use out of it. It was the first non-epaper device I felt comfortable reading books on. It was kinda cool to be able to take movies and tv shows with me on a device that fits between my phone and my laptop in size, which was cool for air travel.

However, Google no longer supports it. Software updates have stopped. It has some problems with wifi that I suspect might just be a software issue, but I can expect it to never be fixed even if it is. The last release of Android did wonders for battery life when not in use, but it’s not nearly as good as new anymore. Performance is subpar compared to modern tablets.

And after Google dropped support for it, that was it. There is no Nexus or Pixel 7” device to replace it.

I’m quite partial to the stock Android experience of Nexus devices. When I got my first Nexus phone, the Galaxy Nexus, I vowed to stick to Nexus devices from then on. However, I was on Verizon and they were being dicks about supporting Nexus devices when I needed to replace my Galaxy Nexus due to severe battery issues. I went through a couple non-Nexus phones and decided not only was I done with non-Nexus Android devices, but I was done with Verizon. Nothing beats that stock experience.

But there is no replacement for the Nexus 7.

But then, Nvidia showed that their Android experience is very close to stock. Their embelishments are just to enhance their high end hardware, not to skew the experience from the stock Android experience. I prefer my Nvidia Shield TV over my Nexus Player. Updates are not as frequent and fast as the Nexus Player, but it performs well, is well supported, and, for the most part, the Android experience is unmolested. Nvidia simply provides an interface to experience their high end hardware.

From what I saw of the Nvidia Shield K1, the experience is very much the same. It’s mostly stock Android with Nvidia’s portal into experiencing the high end hardware. It’s slightly larger than the Nexus 7, but I felt like the size was fine. By the time I decided it was okay to consider Nvidia a good alternative since it appeared there wouldn’t be another Nexus 7 in the near future, Nvidia was preparing to release their next generation tablet. My Nexus 7 works well enough, I’ll wait.

So I waited. And waited. There were FCC filings, rumors, etc. It looked like it should be announced soon. Then, at some point near the announcement of the Nintendo Switch, Nvidia nixed the next generation tablet “for business reasons.”

No new Nexus 7. No new Pixel 7. No new Nvidia tablet.

So I have been ready for an upgrade, but it seems no one wants to make a new 7-8” tablet that I like. There have been rumors for years about Google getting ready to release a new one, but none have materialized. And of course, since Google announced the death of Nexus and the replacement with Pixel, all the rumors shift to the new branding without any actual evidence.

So Nvidia doesn’t appear to be releasing a new tablet any time soon. The next generation 7” Google tablet is just rumor and speculation. There are no others that I’m willing to consider because I really don’t like what those manufacturers do with their user experience. Why am I not throwing money at a tablet and contributing to tablet sales? Because there isn’t one that I want. I’m ready to upgrade, but an upgrade is not available to me that I’m willing to buy.