The TL;DR Version
Pros of the Nexus 7 (2013):
- High resolution - 324 ppi which is great for reading books
- Shape - it's narrower than the iPad mini, I can easily hold it with one hand
- Price - less expensive than other tablets on the market
- No additional software - comes with pure OS installed, no need to uninstall crapware
- Plastic back - I just like Apple's more expensive casing
- Rough headphones jack - I had trouble using it the first time
- Unpolished OS - starting from the square buttons to "no command" errors during the OS update
The Nexus 7
I had about 30 minutes drive to my former employer last year. I used this time listening to audio books as I talked about it in my talk at Railsconf 2013. After moving to Chicago my commute changed from driving to riding the train. This was a great opportunity to make progress with my ever growing list of books to read.
I have a subscription to Safari Books Online. It's rather pricey, but you get access to a large number of software engineering titles including unreleased "rough cuts". It also has an offline bookbag feature as well, where I can save 3 books on my device and read it without Internet connection.
I seriously considered buying an iPad mini as that size was more manageable to me than the full size - 10" - iPad. The only reason I did not buy it before was the lack of retina on the iPad mini. And then Google's Nexus 7 (version 2 or 2013) came out one Wednesday. While the iPad mini offered only 162 pixels per inch (ppi), the Nexus 7 offered twice as much: 324 ppi. As I needed this device for reading the higher resolution was the selling point for me. I ordered the device through Amazon and after a few days the USPS guy handed it over to me when I bumped into him outside the house.
Apple cares a lot about the packaging and your first experience with the product, Asus does not. The device has a plastic back cover and its charger is an unattractive black plastic cube. I turned it on, set up the Wifi password and within a few minutes I was on my way. The first app I installed was - of course - Safari Books Online app which worked neatly.
My first initial impression was that the screen was beautiful with the retina display but the device felt cheap and the Android 4.3 isn't as polished as iOS. The lack of rounded corners on the screen keyboard buttons was a surprise to me.
I tried to plug in my headphones into the jack and it did not go in all the way. A pressed a bit, gently, still no luck. I googled this "feature" and bumped into a video on YouTube where a guy had the exact same problem and he recommended using more force. I did that and it worked. I had a few Apple products but I never had this kind of experience with their product. They all just worked.
A few days later Android asked for an OS update. I went with it and when the device rebooted I received a "no command", meaningless error message. Sure the Nexus 7 costs less than the iPad mini but I was a bit worried what else I will find later.
After all the initial quirks, this device is great for reading books and I use it every time I travel to and from the city.