Nexus 10: We Want To Love It, But Don't
Really, there's a lot to like about Google's Nexus 10. Just having a 2560x1600 screen is enough to get the hardware geek in each of us excited. Samsung's Exynos 5 Dual is clearly a fast SoC backed by a capable graphics engine and copious memory bandwidth. Best of all, Google combines those parts into a platform that delivers reasonable battery life, and then asks $100 less than an iPad for it. Overall, then, the Nexus 10 is a good alternative for folks who like the Nexus 7's value, but want the larger form factor.
Unfortunately, it's hard to look at the Nexus 10 only as the 7's big brother. The 10 is clearly a shot across Apple's bow as Google tries to take the tablet back to its roots, so the third- and fourth-gen iPads are its most natural enemies. Both Apple devices offer stellar screens, and it's really easy to see how much better they look in a side-by-side comparison. The trade-offs are that you end up paying more to go with an iPad, and of course, you're in the App Store ecosystem rather than Google's Play.
We like that the Nexus 10 boasts a higher resolution than any iPad you can buy, but that doesn't hand it a win. We like that it costs less than the iPad, but that's not a reason for a victory dance, either. Had this thing served up more decisive advantages and matched the iPad's display, it would have curried far more favor. As it stands today, though, if you're already surrounded by Apple hardware, the Nexus 10 isn't going to convince you to defect. If you're staunchly anti-Apple, the Nexus 10's shortcomings won't deter you. And so we're faced with perhaps the closest attempt at what makes the iPad as popular as it is, only for the Android space. For that, Google deserves props. The Nexus 10 doesn't get a recommendation, though.
At least with the Nexus 7, we were able to embrace what it can and can't do. It's a seven-inch tablet. You're not going to use it for writing school papers or editing images. It works for the consumption-oriented tasks that tablets do so well, though. Hence, the only award we've ever given to any tablet in The Nexus 7 Review: Google's First Tablet Gets Benchmarked. It starts at $199, too? Heck yeah. Love it.
There still is no tablet out there that does everything we want well, though. We're used to making compromises. We accepted that input on a tablet is challenging, until Microsoft's Surface came along. Then we had to live with the fact that Windows RT limits your potential to access the software you need. We looked to Samsung's ATIV Smart PC 500T running Windows 8 as a solution, and were saddened by its overall form factor.
Hopefully Google is able to nail down its hardware niggles in the Nexus 10's successor. A so-so display, modest battery life, long charging times, no extended display support, and graphics performance that merely catches the third-gen iPad all weigh on us this time around. When quad-core Atoms start showing up toward the end of this year, combining the flexibility of x86 with the energy efficiency enabled by advanced manufacturing, I predict it'll be increasingly difficult to compete in the 10" tablet space.