Nexus 7 2014 tablet; 7 months on

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I bought the nexus 7 tablet more than half a year back. It was cheap, and it was at that time the all-round best performing android tablet. Even I’m a hardcore Apple fan, I gave the iPad a miss due to several reasons. One, being that I foresee myself not using the tablet as often as my smartphone, so it didn’t make sense for me to spend so much more on a device that would ultimately be underutilized.

And I was right. 7 months on, and looking back, I barely used my tablet anymore. I only use it for one purpose 95% of the time; the read my kindle books. Reading on a bigger tablet screen, is a better experience than on a smartphone. Though I still read it on my smartphone while commuting to work everyday. I only read it on my tablet while I’m at home. Other than that, it just sits there on my coffee table not doing anything. Largely underutilised, I am glad I made the right decision in buying a cheap android tablet than an iPad.

That doesn’t mean that I hate the tablet. I love it. It has a gorgeous screen with colors that pop right out. But I still haven’t seen a need to incorporate another device who purpose largely overlaps with that of a smartphone. And I own the iPhone 6, a fantastic smartphone that is extremely capable. On the productivity side, I guess I am still a PC centric person. I find working using the PC much more productive than on a tablet. I appreciate the potential for tablet to improves one’s lives. Its apps offering are limitless. But still my lifestyle just doesn’t have any room for a tablet.

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Digital magazine subscriptions

I have been a National Geographic subscriber for more than a year now. The subscription I am talking about is the digital version of the magazine. It has all the contents of a regular physical magazine, but you read digitally, from your iPad or iPhone. Though you don’t have the physical copy, there are several advantages to subscribing to a digital one. First, is the portability and mobility of carrying the magazine. You don’t have to add extra weight to your bag when carrying the physical magazine around. The Nat Geo app, which allows you to read the digital versions allows you to read comfortably on your iPhone or iPad. This is great for commuting, especially when you want to insert reading time in between traveling without the hassle of carrying the actual magazine.

 

The digital magazine comes packed with interactive features not found in the physical copy. Sections such as daily news, instagram photos, interactive maps, visualizations, diagrams and embedded video clips that enhances the story and articles being written and told are not found in physical copies. This makes the entire experience much more immersive, meaningful and best of all, being able to better connect emotionally to the stories being told about places, people and events around the world.

 

The subscriptions are usually cheaper. Physical magazine subscriptions usually costs more. This is mainly because of the actual printing, and distribution of the magazine to your doorstep on a regular basis right to your doorstep. With the digital version, you simply download data, digital bits and bytes that would ultimately make up the magazine itself. It is hassle free, as the downloads are usually automatic and comes on the day the issue is released, as compared to waiting for a couple of days to allow the magazine to be shipped to you. And because there is no printing involved, you save the environment along the way, saving paper and ink.

 

Of all the magazines that I’ve looked at, National Geographic is by far one of the best. It has its own dedicated app to download, manage and read the magazine. The magazine is also formatted correctly depending on whether you are reading the magazine from your iPad or from your iPhone. This maximizes comfort when reading text and and interacting within the pages no matter what the screen size is. Therefore, they actually have a dedicated team ensuring that the experience you get out from reading the magazine is consisted throughout, regardless of where you read it form.

 

I have contemplated subscribing to other magazines such as The New Yorker, Discover Magazine and perhaps American Scientific. However I am still hesitant, as the digital counterparts are not as robust and mobile-friendly compared to National Geographic. However, one distinct advantage is that you can read all the articles featured in the magazine from your PC, from their website, just by logging onto your account. Paywall articles will become accessible to you once you are a subscriber. If you wish to read from your phone or tablet, you can ready the PDF versions of the magazines. However, I find the PDF versions to be clunky, and difficult to navigate, and it is not different than reading a scanned copy of the magazine with no way to reformat the article to suit the screen size of your tablet or phone. The New Yorker however has its own dedicated app to read the articles just like National Geographic, but that magazine features articles that touches on topics like the Arts, politics, general interests and current affairs. I’m still not sure if the articles in the magazine would be enjoyable to read, considering the topics that are featured, despite its excellent reporting.

 

Discover magazine and American Scientific have apps that allows your read the digital versions on your mobile or tablet, but they simply offer simple pdf versions of the magazine, which like I said, makes reading clunky as the documents are oversized, and you have to constantly zoom in and out to read that little snippet of text somewhere in the magazine. Simply put, it is not optimized for reading on your mobile devices. What makes it attractive though is access to the articles from the website itself, and the website has a very good layout to begin with with regards to reading long-form articles. Simply log in and you have the full access to all the articles and materials found in the actual magazine itself, and they even throw you access to past editions as well. Subscription is also very cheap, considering they are waiving the cost of printing and shipping the physical magazine.

 

So there you have it, the pros and cons of reading digital magazines. I am most probably going to try out subscribing to Discover magazines, because they have an offer of subscribing 2 years worth at a very very cheap price.

What’s been happening?

It’s been a while since I last updated. Lots of things happening and I hate to say it, I haven’t had much time writing my blog about it. But I think not being inspired to write is closer to the truth.

For starters, I got my nexus 7 table which I recently wrote about and having used for some time now, I don’t think I would regret making the purchase decision anytime soon. Unless of course, it starts to break down, then I would be in deep trouble, since I bought it off Amazon, and the warranty can be a little iffy when it comes to situations likes these. But not to think to deeply about what would happen if it does, this is by far, the best tablet that money can buy. Period. Here’s the catch; the best tablet that MONEY CAN BUY.

For SGD310 (off Amazon pricing, which is a steal by the way) you get an amazing tablet is is perfect for reading and watching videos. I don’t play games on tablets of smartphones, so I can’t really comment on that. But as far as popular apps used for reading, and stuff, it’s been a wonderful experience. One thing I truly like about the tablet is the gorgeous screen. That’s all there is to it when it comes to the Nexus 7. A gorgeous screen. For someone who wants a tablet specifically for reading and watching movies (not necessarily on-the-go) when you’re in bed, or on your own couch, this is a great tablet. 7 inch is perfect. Not to small to lose your sense of immersiveness in videos, but not too big that it becomes clunky to hold on an extended period of time. Especially when you are watching a 3-hour movie.

So I love Nexus 7. Now moving on.

A friend of mine recently bought the WiiU with a ton of new games and he invited a few of us to play the party games. We had a blast and I was completely blown away at some of the games. Full of fun and delight, and some really innovative gameplay elements inside, especially Luigi’s Mansion, my afternoon weekend zipped past just like that. We lost track of time and before we knew it, it was dark and time to go home. We had such a great afternoon just chilling at my friend’s house and playing with his WiiU. And did I mention the cats in his house? Eight of them.

So I finally ordered my Gel Kayano 20. I bought the lime green shoe, size 8.5. I was very hesitant in getting online, since it did not come with free shipping. But after careful considering and hoping that the extra shipping charges do not exceed SGD20, then I would effectively still save about 80 dollars. Locally, the shoes are currently selling at SGD279. There were discounts here and there bringing the price down to SGD249. But that is the lowest I can currently find after much research on the price. With shipping charges included, I should not exceed SGD200, which effectively allows me to save a good 80 bucks. So I gave it a go. I went to my local shoe store that sells the model, tried a couple of different sizes, chose an ideal fit, took note of it and then raced back home to place an order of the desired size. Not a hint of guilt. And hey, the consolation of buying online, is that I get to buy the lime green colour, which is pretty neat and colour does not sell locally. They have the fiery red option down here that I don’t see on Amazon, but I guess I’m gonna stick with the lime green one.

My current shoe, is about to clock in a good 600km of running. A year has passed since I got that shoe and I think it’s prime time to get a new pair. A better one with better cushioning. I am not getting any younger and I am placing a higher priority in preserving my knees and ankles as much as possible for my old age while still maintaining my overall fitness. I run about 15 to 20km a week, which is a good range. Nothing too intensive, and nothing too light. Just nice I feel. And hey wasn’t there a journal article about the downsides of running intensively with regards to your long term health?

I asked my friend to buy 3 books totalling close to SGD50. Im piggy riding on his amazon shipping cart so that we can hit the minimum sum to achieve free shipping. So I am happy and patiently waiting for them to arrive. He just made the order yesterday, so it will take some time. But no hurries at all. Though you might be wondering why buy physical books when you can get the ebook instantly on Amazon or torrent them off from some site? Well, as an avid reader, once in a while, it feels good to hold a physical book. The smell of a freshly pressed words on crispy brown recycled paper as you flip through them. The texture of the paper, each fibre weaving through to make a page of paper. These are feelings that cannot be replicated on the cold hard gorilla glass screen. The books I bought are educational, and none are fictional novels. Those I’d rather read on my kindle, rather than having them lying on the shelves. Non-fictions however are slightly different. They are books of knowledge, facts that can be referred to in the future. Worth having it and reading them again when you feel like it. Books have been around in hundreds of years. It is hard to give it up altogether.

Now to digress a little bit;

I have been working for 3 months. A permanent job finally and one that I am settling into. I like my job. And the income that it gives me every month is fair and comfortable. I am not married, single and I don’t have a home to call my own yet nor have a car. And I don’t have much to spend on. So I save a significant portion of my monthly income ( 35%). Other than the tuition fees that I had to pay my dad back since he paid it upfront in the first place, the money that comes in is sufficient. I am by no means rich, neither am I implying I am rich. But rather, big ticket items, like computers and furniture (if I have plans to furnish my rooms further, not that I am complaining, since my rooms is wonderful and comfortable) still requires time to shore up the money that you save before you can actually buy them. I have this macbook air for 2 years now. I have no need to upgrade my computer anytime soon. If this macbook air can serve me another 2 years, why not. I have no desire to keep up with the joneses as far as personal computing is concerned. It’s good to have the latest gadget, and it’s tempting when Apple announces new stuff., but it’s not a need when your current one serves you well. So I am taking good care of my computer and I really do not want to let anything bad happen to it. I don’t play PC games. I have a PS4 that more than serve my gaming needs. And so, like I said, it would be disappointing to see my saving diminish just because I need to get a new computer which can cost thousands of dollars. Not that I can’t afford right now, but I would rather save as much as I can so that I could use for  more pressing needs (though travelling is not a pressing need, but it is good to have once in a while with the money that you save, rather than living pay check to pay check with nothing to spend on to reward yourself for the hard work you do in your early career).

Right now I am spending a little big more these few months, because with my new job, I can now afford the things that I need like good clothing, nice shoes and other stuff that I am denied before due to financial constraints living as an undergrad. But after I have what I need, I think my spending will taper off and then I would save much more in the long run. The increased spending in the initial months after I got my new job does not eat into the 35% portion of the savings that I have aside. It is the other 35% that I have set aside for my daily expenditure. So in other words, the money i set myself to spend on a daily basis on food and transportation is still enough to buy the other things that I need like nice clothes and shoes. So in other words, life is good. Seeing my saving grow every month makes me feel happy and lucky. And the more money I see being saved, the harder it is for me to really use that money for leisurely means, unless it is totally justified. This is something I have not experienced before. Seeing my savings grow, somehow it becomes more difficult to see it being spent. Hence, the depressing thought of getting a new computer should the need arise down the road and spending on other big ticket items.

Nexus 7 2013

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2 weeks ago, I decided to purchase the Nexus 7, 32Gb, 2013 edition from Amazon. This will be my first ever android device that I will use. It took me weeks of research before deciding to get one. I was very hesitant at first, making sure that I am covering my ground and justifying the need to get the  Nexus 7. I read reviews, watched review videos, read user experiences on various forums and even watched all the unboxing videos on Youtube. While I am a strong supporter of Apple products and would have bought an iPad mini with retina display within a heartbeat if there is a strong need for one, I decided that Nexus 7 could fulfil me needs better for a tablet, and allow me to save some money in the process.

The biggest draw is sadly, the cost (sorry Apple, I know you tried really hard to win me over, but this time, the Nexus 7 wins in the pricing department). Ordering online from Amazon, would translate to roughly SGD310. Compared to the iPad mini retina base model at close to SGD550, the cost saving is just too hard to pass it up. Furthermore, I am getting the 32Gb model, which offers twice as much space that cost so much less than the iPad mini retina base model.

Sure you may argue, using the iPad would definitely give you a much better experience in just about every aspect of tablet usage. From the speedy response to the touch screen, to the marvellous app and the app ecosystem just for the iPad. But I feel, that when i comes to my needs (and i really analysed my need and my specific usage for such a device down to the very app that I would be using on a day to day basis), the Nexus 7 could just perform as well. I have taken a look at the actual device itself. It can easily be held in one hand, which makes is a great replacement to my kindle. The side bezel is narrow, which reduces the overall size, making it suitable to hold the device in one hand. The 16 by 9 aspect ratio screen is gorgeous with retina like display. The colours from the display just pops out without over saturation and the response is just as good as on the iPad. I’m not terribly picky about the response rate down to the millisecond. So I am happy that the Nexus 7 is able to perform well enough based on my needs.

And my needs are simple. First of all, I want to reduce my dependence on using my computer at home. I want the nexus 7 to be able to do everything  I do on a daily basis with my Macbook Air, that is, check email, surf the web, watch youtube, use social media, watch videos, stream music and read books. That’s all there is basically. And I want to do without being tethered to my desk. I have my bed and my comfortable sofa in my room that I just want a small and smart looking tablet to perform all those tasks that I usually do on my computer.

I have an iPad 2 and a kindle. The iPad 2 is starting to get clunky and slow. Due to the iOS update, the hardware performance is no longer able to keep up with the performance demands of the iOS software and the app that comes along with it. It’s starting to get sluggish and switching apps is slow. It no longer provides me with a robust and responsive experience. The kindle? I love it. The e-ink is unmatched when it comes to reading texts. The size is small, light and portable. I never had much complaints about the kindle. I still love it. But i feel that I could get a better looking tablet that combines both the functionality of the iPad2 and the kindle together. Now I can read and do my daily computer activities on just one device. It will be my ‘go-to’ device when I reach home after work. I will still bring it to work, because I can use it to read books on my nexus 7, and then when I get back home, I will use it to surf, and watch videos all at the comfort of my sofa.

There is another reason that really tipped my decision in buying this tablet. Since I started working, I have some flexi benefits given by my company that entitles me to spend on certain things. One of which are electronic devices. The flexi benefit had to be spent before the end of the financial year, which is by March 2014. Seeing as I had nothing else in mind to spend on that are eligible to claim the flexi benefits, I decided that the nexus 7 would benefit me the most. I will not totally offset the cost of the tablet itself, rather only about half of the total price, since that was all I was given, considering that I joined the company in the beginning of the year. So the flexi benefit is in turn, pro-rated as well. But even then it is a huge savings, I only had to fork out SGD160 on my own to get a nexus 7! I think it is a sweet deal, since although I am not a huge fan of using tablets, but I feel that this situation has presented me with a unique opportunity to really integrate tablet usage in my daily life that is meaningful and without spending too much on it.

The tablet should arrive soon, in the coming weeks. I am pretty excited about it! Will update again on my android experience in future blog posts!