Widescreen Tablets: My Nexus 10 Love Affair

The Google Nexus 10 is much maligned: people do not like the large size and widescreen nature of the display. Some journalists do not like that it's only a 1.7 GHz dual core processor, rather than a 2.5 GHz, eight core processor with flames drawn along the side. The tablet is now two years old and is currently in the process of receiving the update to Android 5.0 Lollipop. It showed up well in the Futuremark benchmarking application and was ranked tenth in the world as at the end of October 2014. In everyday use my Nexus 10 is somewhere shy of my Nexus 7; both are acceptable. The Nexus 10 also has a very high resolution, 10.1-inch display, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB or 32 GB of internal storage, front and rear cameras and a large, 9,000 mAh battery.

It runs the latest version of Android and it's powerful, so why all the hate? And that question is easy to answer with a couple of Google searches: Android developers (including Google) do not get the idea of a 10-inch widescreen device. Many applications or menus have wide areas of space between the text and the icons, the launcher squeezes everything towards the centre of the display and the latest update to 5.0 Lollipop does little to improve matters. If anything, it's worse as the notification shade is now towards the centre of the device rather than separated with notifications on the left and power management icons on the right. And sure; the interface can look a little odd at times; as though Google designed Android Kit Kat and Lollipop with a 4:3 screen aspect ratio. That the Samsung Nexus 10 has all those extra pixels is great for when they're needed for something, but otherwise they're wasted space, right?

To my mind, this wasted screen space is only annoying if we let it be that way and that depends on what we're doing with our device. I use my Nexus 10 differently to how I use my Nexus 7 or my HTC One; I use the 10's landscape display for running Google Docs and writing; my Nexus 10 is used for a lot of writing! I use the Chrome browser and I use Netflix, Google Movies and YouTube for media. For me, the widescreen aspect ratio is only an issue if I think about it: that large, bright screen can be run at minimum brightness most of the time and I see around ten hours of screen on time running completely stock Android Kit Kat 4.4.4. Part of the reason why I have fewer applications on the Nexus 10 compared with the Nexus 7 is because of the size of the device: I don't use my Nexus 10 when using public transport as it's too unwieldy. That's what my Nexus 7 or smartphone is for.

Is there a solution? Ultimately, the user interface could be sharpened up for the larger tablets. Samsung manages a decent effort with TouchWiz and the 10-inch devices; why can't Google? Perhaps there will be less of a need for this going forwards, especially seeing as the Nexus 9 has a smaller, 4:3 aspect ratio screen? Let's face it; it's an issue because Google have updated the two year old device with a brand new version of Android and haven't changed the interface. If Google had left the Nexus 10 alone and it forever remained on Android 4.4, it wouldn't have been highlighted in the press. But I do have to write that it ultimately depends on what the tablet is being used for. For writing, for watching movies and gaming, the Nexus 10 does just fine.

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About the Author

David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.
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