Android 4.1

In the process of working on the Nexus 7 review I dusted off (literally) my Kindle Fire, powered it up and checked for updates expecting to find tons. I found none. The Kindle Fire is still running 6.3.1, released a few months ago, and more importantly it's still relying on the CPU for a lot of drawing, which means the UI isn't smooth. Scrolling in Amazon's Silk Browser is fast, but only because the Kindle Fire drops a lot of animation frames. The experience is jarring, and much better on the Nexus 7 by comparison.

While the Kindle Fire's OS looks like a polished, previous generation of Android, Android 4.1 delivers much of the smoothness of the iPad's iOS. Don't get me wrong, there are still some rough edges and hiccups. Project butter or not, Android 4.1's UI performance is still not perfect, but it's nearly so, and it's miles better than the Kindle Fire.


Nexus 7 running Kindle for Android (left) vs. Kindle Fire (right)

The Kindle Fire's carousel of previously used apps and media is smooth, but browsing the web on it is a mess compared to the Nexus 7. What's even more embarrassing for the Fire is even the Kindle app on the Nexus 7 delivers a smoother experience. Couple that with a warmer display and you actually have a better Kindle in the Nexus 7 than with Amazon's own device. When the Kindle Fire was released, its imperfections were easily overlooked since the Fire was so much better than any prior $199 tablets. The Nexus 7 dramatically raised the bar in the experience department.

Even compared to the Transformer Pad Infinity, the Nexus 7 feels faster thanks to UI speed improvements in Jelly Bean. The entire OS feels snappier, despite running on technically slower hardware.

What sets a tablet apart from a smartphone isn't just physical size, but also applications that take advantage of the size/resolution. Google attempts to deliver this with giant widgets that serve as portals to your content. The My Library widget automatically populates itself with books, magazines and movies you've purchased from the Google Play store. The result is quite impressive:

Start adding more conventional shortcuts to your home screen and the illusion quickly collapses, but I do believe the well laid out main home screen is what Google originally intended with widgets on Android.

As an eReader I'd argue the Nexus 7 is at least as good as the Kindle Fire. You can debate the pros/cons of books from Google Play vs. Amazon's Kindle store, but the fact is that both are available on the Nexus 7. The Kindle app for Android works well (as I've already mentioned), although for actual shopping you'll have to use Amazon's website. A small price to pay for a much better tablet experience everywhere else.

In all honesty, that's what you really give up when picking the Nexus 7 over the Kindle Fire - you lose the tightly integrated Amazon shopping experience. You also lose Amazon's video streaming service, which presently doesn't have an Android client.

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  • The0ne - Friday, July 27, 2012 - link

    My Kindle is fulled with books and audio books and I need more space. I am seriously thinking about purchasing the Nexus 7 as a replacement simply because XDA has provided a way to add more storage space via a dongle. Still, my eyes are shouting for a 10" reader as I know the 7" Kindle is always stressing as it is. Reply
  • robinthakur - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - link

    I would imagine it is the beginnings of an anti piracy drive as that is such a hot topic on Android and a key reason why some app just aren't available for it. Which is a great shame as having a Micro SD slot is emminently useful and cheaper than paying for manufacturer added storage. Reply
  • TheJian - Wednesday, August 01, 2012 - link

    iphone collection packs are readily available on newsgroups and websites. No more piracy on android than ios. That's a fallacy perpetuated by apple lovers. Nothing sneaky about leaving off a micro sd slot. Dead trigger was given away because of one of two things: The game sucks an reviews show it, or they just are apple lovers who ported it to give it away to hurt android. Why would you give your game away due to any piracy? No amount would make a sane person give away their work for good. There are NO honest people on android?...LOL. Sounds like a scam to me. How does angry birds make money then? OK, a 3rd option; they saw sales sucked so went with whichever had better sales and publicity stunt for the other platform (in this case android). I'd venture to guess sales still suck on IOS too... :) No amount of publicity crap will fix reviews in the 40's. Rovio isn't complaining about android sales.

    Does your ipad3 come with micro sd? Must be because of all that piracy huh? Sounds like BS both ways eh? For $200-250 what did you expect to get? They blew away the kindle fire, asking much more is asking for the impossible at this price.

    Make a better game that people enjoy (and isn't just a gpu fest) and it will sell. End users don't crack games, professional groups do and they do it just as well on ANY platform (including the PS3 now). Heck you can buy an xbox360 pre modded and ready to happily play your copies. Yet, for some reason people spew comments about PC's being so easy to pirate on...LOL. PC games have craploads of patches, thus needing more skilled users to update and crack said updates. I'd say it's tougher on a pc, where any monkey can buy a pre-modded console and boot a burned game from release groups.

    As someone already said, most users can't even copy/delete files. Witness the number of people in forums etc asking why their pirated PC game doesn't work. "the game says insert disc etc, where's the crack?"...Umm, gee, did you check the \crack folder? Bother to read the nfo file?...ROFL. Followed by the inevitable "how do you open a .nfo file?" and it goes on an on. Worse, some just can't get past "how do you open a rar file, or .001, or .part1.rar"...At some point someone says RTFM or "google it" :)
    Reply
  • robinthakur - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    The fact of the matter is that there is little incentive to jailbreak an iDevice anymore because Apple has added most of what was missing previously. You also lose alot like when Apple release a new iOS and you have to wait for it to be jailbroken.

    However, for most Android users who do not own first party Google devices (at least the ones that still get updates...!). you need to root your phone to install updates in a timely manner. On most FAQS about rooting your phone there is inevitably a section discussing pirated apps. The availability and proliferation of pirate apps for Google is certainly nothing new, perhaps you have been willfully ignoring it. The stats on it from most of the developers who mention it are absolutely shocking.

    This is the downside of having more technically adept users I suppose, but to pretend that it either doesn't exist or even more crazily that iOS developers release thei product on Android free to hurt the platform (hmm...) is paranoid delusional.

    The fact is that Angry Birds on Android is free and *ad-supported*. It is not free. Rovio is at least canny enough to realise that the target market aren't prepared to even pay 1.99 for their hard work, and even those playing ad-supported games still complain about the in-game ads and use ad-blocking software so that still doesn't solve the problem. The 360 and also PS3 do ban users that they detect using pirated software online (everyone seems to play multiplayer these days) so no it is not just as easy to pirate on console to how easy it is on the PC.
    Reply
  • GTForce - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    I think it should be "winning a higher level accolade" instead of "winning a higher level allocade". It's always baffling to see pro tech editors not using a simple spell-check to finalize their articles. BTW, a nice article (as usual on AnandTech). Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, July 29, 2012 - link

    Pro or Moe ?
    Arrogant and ignorant.
    Imagine the heady region in where they dwell.
    If they need a spellchecker, they must be stupid.
    It's fear and low self esteem.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    I'm curious now if a better flash memory controller is part of what gave iPads the fluidity lead up until this tablet, how do they fare in NAND performance? Reply
  • wendoman - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    "The video below shows you what can happen on a Transformer Pad Infinity while downloading a bunch of large files in the background:"

    Where the video?
    Reply
  • driscoll42 - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    You don't actually lose Amazon's video service. You can view Amazon Prime videos in any standard browser, I've got a shortcut on my Nexus 7 which just goes straight to Amazon's Video Service. What you do lose is access to the Lending Library. Reply
  • geniekid - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    Good point. I use Amazon VoD a lot, which is the best argument for myself in getting a Kindle Fire over this thing.

    I wonder what the difference between the KF and Nexus 7 is in terms of how long it takes to get from the home screen to actual streaming video.
    Reply

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