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Aside from being a bit of a gadget freak, the tech in my life needs to be useful and used, otherwise it’s just clutter. When the Nexus 7 was announced I could feel my inner gadgetgrrl sqee-ing at the thought of a device that had the potential to be complete awesomesauce. That’s when my Sensible side spoke up and asked “Is this a USEFUL device?” For the next week I searched the interwebs for as much info as I could get my hands on.

I ordered about a week after launch, and I only had to wait 2 weeks to get mine. This, in the midst of what seemed to be a major shipping debacle – I was pretty happy. I decided to wait until I’d had it a little while before offering my opinion, making sure that I gave it a really good workout before I told people whether it’s worth buying or not.

The size of the Nexus 7 is brilliant. While it won’t be for everyone, being of sub-average height, I find that the 7″ screen is perfect for me. My previous tablet (the original 10″ Asus transformer TF101) has been sadly neglected since the arrival of the Nexus 7. I find the 7″ easier to carry around, even with a case it fits with practically no perceivable weight (amongst all the other contents) in my rather small messenger bag.

The lack of 3G and a rear camera has had NO effect on how useful I find this device. I simply hotspot my phone and I’m off and away. Of course internet speed depends on general 3G coverage, but apart from those “blackspot” moments, the Nexus 7 refreshes very quickly. To the point that I don’t really use my phone for email, twitter or browsing any more. I find it far more comfortable to hotspot, whip my Nexus 7 out and do it all on the marvelous 7″ screen.

As for the rear camera, well I can’t say that I ever used my 10″ to take a photo while out and about, it’s awkward and a little weird looking. When I plan on taking photos, I carry a camera, or I have my phone, which takes pretty good pics in a pinch.

My main concern was the lack of ability to easily expand the memory. Given the price point that Google was trying to hit ($249 and $299 from the Play Store in Australia), I understand why 8 & 16Gb were the chosen options. I would have, however, happily paid another $50 to up the memory to 32Gb, and wish it had been an option. Mind you, there are other options. Kingston and Seagate have created Wi-Fi linkable portable HD’s. Nifty little slips of things that don’t really take up THAT much extra room in your bag (or another pocket), if you desperately needed additional space. Having said that, I’ve not ever come close to filling up my 10″ tablet (which is also a 16Gb size), as I don’t tend to leave files on my device that I’m not using. The only reason I can see, for myself, to need extra space is purely to have my favourite TV shows and movies for travel.

Lastly is the Operating System, Google’s Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean”. It’s fast, it’s streamlined and some of the new features are great. There is a lot I haven’t played with yet, even now, but over all it’s quite an improvement on ICS. The main flaw with this is that the homescreens do not rotate. Whilst it’s not an impossible thing to work around, but it would be nice if it was native. I have had issues with a couple of apps not working correctly on the Nexus 7, but eventually, as Jelly Bean becomes more wide spread amongst devices, developers will need to update their apps.

Specific features that I have used and enjoyed using are things like Google Now, Speech to text, and the widgets. Google Now, whether typed or by voice is a fun way to search the internet. I found it easy to use, and the results very good. The “card” interface is a lovely and clear way to read through the results, rather than just links with text. The Speech to Text feature has vastly improved since ICS, with far fewer inconsistancies or errors. Finally the widgets! I LOVE widgets! The auto moving/sizing is a great feature that stops that annoying “there’s no more room on this screen” type messages.

I am using it for a lot of my social media, email, internet browsing, E-books, PDF reading, a few games and chat needs. Whether I’m out and about, checking on best pricing, or reviews, to sitting at home reading or catching up with friends on GTalk or Google+. I have found the Nexus 7 to be a great all-round device.

This mini review is a guest piece written by Tia Porter. It’s not a full-blown review of the style Ausdroid usually does, but we thought this a refreshing change from our usual perspective, and thus worth sharing with you!

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Devices: Nexus 7