Google Nexus 7 Review: State-of-the-Art Features, Performance & Price

What a difference a Jelly Bean can make! Home runs don’t come easy in the technology arena especially in the tablet market with a third-generation, 800-pound gorilla named iPad® already sitting in the room and an upstart Kindle Fire® threatening to burn the house down. But, if you’ve been disappointed by the fit and finish of previous Android releases, then it’s time to have another look. Whether you’re a road warrior or a couch potato, you’re gonna love the new Nexus 7 quad-core tablet from Asus. Open the case and look into your Nexus 7′s eyes. Blink once1 and boom. Your desktop appears. Incredible features. Stunning performance. And unbelievable price.

We like to start with the bad news. There’s not much: no rear-facing camera, no microSD expansion slot, and no HDMI port. Don’t make the mistake of buying the 8GB tablet. While $199 is appealing, you’ll quickly wish you’d spent the additional $50 to purchase the 16GB flavor. Remember, the storage is not expandable. But, if you hurry, you’ll get a $25 gift card to Google Play. So go for broke and splurge. You’ll want to fill all 16 gigs with lightening fast Android apps. And there’s no longer a shortage of choices. Almost anything that you’d find on an iPad is available for the Nexus 7… and then some. The one missing feature in Jelly Bean is Flash support. That’s Adobe’s doing, not Google’s. But there’s an easy fix. Load the Firefox Beta browser and side load the Adobe Flash Play 11.1 apk, and you’re back in business.

If you follow our musings on Nerd Vittles, you know that we eat our own dog food. So our Nexus 7 has both a PPTP VPN and NeoRouter VPN activated. We connect back to our PBX in a Flash server through one of the VPN connections and log in as an extension on the home Asterisk® server using Bria for Android. We activate a Google Voice account using GrooVe IP. And we connect back to an OBi device in the home office using OBiON. That makes three active phones for inbound and outbound calls right on the Nexus 7 desktop. Incoming calls to our home office pop up using Gtalk with the new Nerd Vittles’ GV Call Notifier.

As you can see from the above screenshot (actual screen size), our most recent Gmail messages, Google Calendar, and today’s weather forecast for our current location are displayed whenever the tablet is opened for use. The PIAF Forums are one click away with Tapatalk as is access to your favorite dozen apps and 20,000 of your favorite songs.

Drooling for Apple’s Siri? You’ll love the new, voice-activated Google Search which puts Siri to shame. Watch the video above and decide for yourself. And then there’s Google Now:

It tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform, or your favorite team’s score while they’re playing. And the best part? All of this happens automatically. Cards appear throughout the day at the moment you need them.

The Nexus 7 also sports a gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and a GPS chip that can take advantage of Google Maps new off-line mode when WiFi isn’t available. Want to take a high-res screenshot? Just hold down the Power and Vol/Down buttons at the same time, and presto, your screenshot is saved. Video conferencing also is a breeze using either Google Talk or Skype. File transfers are equally easy thanks to NFC. Just tap two Jelly Bean devices together and the file transfer is on its way wirelessly. And then there’s Google Wallet which lets you pay for purchases with the tap of your Nexus 7. In a revolutionary move, there’s also a well-written, real User’s Guide (as in book) at your fingertips. Just click the Book icon to access your entire book collection including the User’s Guide. We could go on, but you get the idea. It’s revolutionary as is the price!

We can’t really show the near instantaneous response that a quad-core processor provides. Suffice it to say, this isn’t a Kindle Fire brimming with compromises to save on production costs. It’s a fast, no-compromise, state-of-the-art tablet with battery life that rivals any iPad. Because of web constraints, the above screenshots really don’t provide an accurate rendering of the actual screen resolution. Simply put, the 1280×800 WXGA screen leaves the Kindle Fire in the dust. Watching 720p videos of the Summer Olympics is nothing short of amazing with images literally jumping off the screen. For those of you that still wear suits to work, the Nexus 7 will fit comfortably in your inside suit pocket. Weighing in at just 12 ounces, you won’t be listing to one side from carrying the Nexus 7 in your pocket. In fact, it’s about 20% lighter than a Kindle Fire which makes a huge difference with the form factor of this device.

Last but not least, the setup process is now as smooth as silk. In about 5 minutes, everything is configured, your Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Music and photo collections are all synced and ready for use. Run, don’t walk, and buy this tablet. It’s that good. And it’s less than half the cost of the cheapest, entry level New iPad. Does it replace a desktop PC or Mac? No. Could it replace an iPad? In a heartbeat.

Originally published: Monday, July 30, 2012



Astricon 2012. Astricon 2012 will be in Atlanta at the Sheraton beginning October 23 through October 25. We hope to see many of you there. We called Atlanta home for over 25 years so we’d love to show you around. Be sure to tug on my sleeve and mention you’d like a free PIAF Thumb Drive. We’ll have a bunch of them to pass out to our loyal supporters. Nerd Vittles readers also can save 20% on your registration by using coupon code: AC12VIT.




Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.
Or Try the New, Free PBX in a Flash Conference Bridge.


whos.amung.us If you’re wondering what your fellow man is reading on Nerd Vittles these days, wonder no more. Visit our new whos.amung.us statistical web site and check out what’s happening. It’s a terrific resource both for us and for you.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID from our special Vitelity sign-up link. If you’re seeking the best flexibility in choosing an area code and phone number plus the lowest entry level pricing plus high quality calls, then Vitelity is the hands-down winner. Vitelity provides Tier A DID inbound service in over 3,000 rate centers throughout the US and Canada. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road while you get an incredible signup deal as well. The going rate for Vitelity’s DID service is $7.95 a month which includes up to 4,000 incoming minutes on two simultaneous channels with terminations priced at 1.45¢ per minute. Not any more! For PBX in a Flash users, here’s a deal you can’t (and shouldn’t) refuse! Sign up now, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls for just $3.99 a month. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! Vitelity’s rate is just 1.44¢ per minute for outbound calls in the U.S. There is a $35 prepay when you sign up. This covers future usage and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

  1. In case you’ve forgotten, one of the criticisms of the original face recognition device security was the fact that you could hold up a photo of the person with another device and walk right into the tablet. Forcing the person to blink once pretty much solves that. Most photos don’t blink. :-) []

GV Call Notifier: Send Jabber and SMS Alerts for Incoming Asterisk Calls

For those using PBX in a Flash or The Incredible PBX with at least one Google Voice trunk configured, there’s a simple way to send Jabber alerts to your Gmail desktop and SMS alerts to your cellphone to notify you of incoming calls to your Asterisk® server. Meet GV Call Notifier. The setup only takes a couple of minutes, and it provides instantaneous Asterisk call notification when new calls arrive on your system.

Prerequisites. You’ll need a PIAF2 server with or without Incredible PBX to use today’s GV Call Notifier. Set up at least one dedicated Google Voice account in PIAF2 using FreePBX. Remember that Google Voice requires that one outbound call be made with your new account using a browser before it will work interactively with PBX in a Flash.

Because we will be using Google’s Chat facility to send alerts, you also will need to interactively enable chat communications between your Google Voice account (used in PIAF2) and whatever Gmail destination(s) you plan to use as the recipient of the Jabber alerts. The easy way to do this is to open two different browsers. Sign in to Gmail on one with your primary Gmail account, and sign into Gmail on the other one with your PIAF2 Google Voice account credentials. Now use the Chat option in Gmail to send a message in both directions between the two accounts. Don’t forget to sign out of the Google Voice account, or it will no longer work to receive incoming calls in PIAF2.

Configuration Steps. To make this work, we need to adjust the context configuration for the trunks you wish to monitor. You may recall that, when you set up a new trunk, one of the entries looked like this: context=from-trunk. That’s the default incoming trunk context for FreePBX® trunks. What we need to do is replace the existing context entry with a custom context. Let’s call it incoming-alert. Here’s what a typical setup looks like. Click here to download a copy to your Desktop for editing because you need to add your own credentials.

[incoming-alert]
exten => 8431234567,1,Goto(s,1)
exten => s,1,Set(GVACCT=acctname) ; your Google Voice account name without @gmail.com
exten => s,2,Set(GVPASS=password) ; your Google Voice account password
exten => s,3,Set(EMAIL_NOTIFY=yourname@gmail.com) ; Gmail address to receive Jabber alerts
exten => s,4,Set(SMS_NOTIFY=6782223344) ; your cellphone number to receive SMS alters
exten => s,n,Playtones(ring)
exten => s,n,JABBERSend(${GVACCT},${EMAIL_NOTIFY},"Incoming call: ${CALLERID(all)}")
exten => s,n,System(gvoice -e ${GVACCT}@gmail.com -p ${GVPASS} send_sms ${SMS_NOTIFY} "Incoming call: ${CALLERID(all)}")
exten => s,n,Goto(from-trunk,${CALLERID(dnid)},1)
exten => s,n,Hangup

You only have to worry about the first five lines in the context. The first one designates the Trunk DID you want to manage. Just enter the 10-digit or 11-digit DID of the trunk you want to monitor. Whether to use a 10-digit or 11-digit DID depends upon how your trunk provider delivers the incoming calls to your PBX. If you want to manage more than one DID, just clone the first line changing the entry for each DID and then insert the new line below [incoming-alert].

Remember we said you must set up at least one Google Voice account in FreePBX for this to work. The reason is we’re going to use Google Voice to deliver the Jabber and SMS messages. Be sure you’ve interactively completed the Google Chat setup steps above before you continue. Otherwise, your alerts will never be delivered.

In [incoming-alert], modify line s,1 by replacing acctname with your actual Google Voice account name minus @gmail.com. In line s,2 replace password with your Google Voice account password. In line s,3 replace yourname with the Gmail address where you want the Jabber alerts delivered. This typically would be your primary Gmail account, not the account you set up for Google Voice in Asterisk. In line s,4 replace 6782223344 with the 10-digit cellphone number to which you want incoming call SMS alerts delivered. As we said, nothing else needs to be changed. Now cut-and-paste the custom [incoming-alert] context to the end of /etc/asterisk/extensions_custom.conf. Then reload your Asterisk dialplan: asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

Now we’re ready to make the Trunk adjustments in FreePBX. Using your browser, open up FreePBX by pointing your browser to the IP address of your server with /admin as the destination. Edit the Trunk or Trunks that you configured in the [incoming-alert] context. Find the line that begins with “context” and change it to context=incoming-alert.

NOTE: If the existing entry you’re replacing wasn’t context=from-trunk, then be sure to write down what the context actually was. Then replace the from-trunk entry in the next to last line of [incoming-alert] with whatever context you wrote down.

Save your Trunk change and reload FreePBX when prompted. Then try a test call to this DID to make sure you receive the two alerts.

Install Growl. The other piece you’ll probably want is Growl, a pop-up notification system for Mac OS X or Windows. With Growl in place, you’ll see alerts like the one above whenever a new call arrives.

CallerID Superfecta Notifications. If you didn’t already know, there are seven additional call notifier options which are available as part of CallerID Superfecta. Every Data Source that begins with Send To is actually a call notifier. Take advantage of them. They’re all free! CallerID Superfecta is included in every PIAF2 installation and can be accessed through the FreePBX GUI. It is brought to you by the fine folks at POSSA. Enjoy!

Update: For an alternate approach that we actually like better, see the Comments.

Originally published: Thursday, July 26, 2012



Astricon 2012. Astricon 2012 will be in Atlanta at the Sheraton beginning October 23 through October 25. We hope to see many of you there. We called Atlanta home for over 25 years so we’d love to show you around. Be sure to tug on my sleeve and mention you’d like a free PIAF Thumb Drive. We’ll have a bunch of them to pass out to our loyal supporters. Nerd Vittles readers also can save 20% on your registration by using coupon code: AC12VIT.




Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.
Or Try the New, Free PBX in a Flash Conference Bridge.


whos.amung.us If you’re wondering what your fellow man is reading on Nerd Vittles these days, wonder no more. Visit our new whos.amung.us statistical web site and check out what’s happening. It’s a terrific resource both for us and for you.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID from our special Vitelity sign-up link. If you’re seeking the best flexibility in choosing an area code and phone number plus the lowest entry level pricing plus high quality calls, then Vitelity is the hands-down winner. Vitelity provides Tier A DID inbound service in over 3,000 rate centers throughout the US and Canada. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road while you get an incredible signup deal as well. The going rate for Vitelity’s DID service is $7.95 a month which includes up to 4,000 incoming minutes on two simultaneous channels with terminations priced at 1.45¢ per minute. Not any more! For PBX in a Flash users, here’s a deal you can’t (and shouldn’t) refuse! Sign up now, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls for just $3.99. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! Vitelity’s rate is just 1.44¢ per minute for outbound calls in the U.S. There is a $35 prepay when you sign up. This covers future usage and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

Straight Talk: Keep AT&T Humming While Chopping Your Cellphone Bill in Half

It takes a lot to get us excited about a cellphone service deal these days. But, we’ve got two terrific deals to tell you about today, and both of them are thanks to WalMart. If you have an iPhone or Android smartphone or any other GSM phone plan with AT&T in the United States and you’re the lone wolf or only have a few phones on your plan, you don’t want to miss this opportunity. You can cut your monthly rate as much as 2/3 while remaining on the AT&T network. Here’s our recent Speed Test using an iPhone 4S with the $14.99 $4.99 StraightTalk SIM. Coupon code: SIMSAVE

To put it down where the goats can get it, let’s review the current AT&T subscription plan. With an iPhone on a 2-year plan, $70 a month buys you 450 anytime minutes and 2GB of data per month. Actually the 2GB data plan is no longer available so it’s $75 a month with 3GB. If you want text messaging and anticipate sending or receiving more than a couple text messages a day, then that’s another $20 a month. After taxes and fees, it comes in just under $100. If you actually talk a lot on your phone, then add $30 more for unlimited calling in the U.S. only. That brings you to $135 a month after taxes and fees.

Would you believe you can get the exact same service on the exact same AT&T network for $45 a month by switching to Straight Talk? Did we mention there’s no long-term contract? Does your phone have to be unlocked from AT&T? No. Does your iPhone have to be rooted? No, unless you want to receive multimedia messages. But that’s a 2-minute drill thanks to Absinthe. Rooting an iPhone also gets you FaceTime using 3G. If you like the assurance of a long-term plan, you can prepay for a year’s service for $495. Want to add unlimited international calling to many (not all) countries, just pay another $15 a month (includes Mexico wireless). To get started, purchase a StraightTalk SIM and AirTime Bundle.

We hear you. So what’s the catch? Well, if Fox News is your idea of Fair and Balanced™, then you’ll feel right at home with StraightTalk. But, if reading Terms of Service is your thing (we happen to enjoy it), then Straight Talk is anything but straight in describing their offering as “Unlimited.” Of course, if you’ve ever read AT&T’s terms of service, you’d come away in a cold sweat as well. The bottom line is Straight Talk doesn’t want you using their plan for streaming music and videos to your phone all day. And they don’t want you tethering your PC to your phone and using it as your primary Internet connection. Can you do any of these things once in a while? According to the message threads, probably so. Most users report no problems so long as your monthly data usage is under 2GB and daily consumption does not exceed 100MB. Is it a good idea? Probably not, especially if you purchased an annual subscription and Straight Talk has an absolute right to drop you like a hot potato. The bottom line is this. If your primary use of your smartphone is to make phone calls, send text messages, read your email, and look up stuff on the Internet, then this plan has no equal. And you will save a pile of money while continuing to enjoy AT&T’s network as if you never left. In fact, you haven’t. If you happen to have AT&T’s 3G MicroCell to improve calling in your home or office, then Straight Talk works with that, too. It will display as “ROAM” on your cellphone. Just remember that dropping all of your AT&T cellphones will also result in your MicroCell being disabled as well. The one thing we haven’t quite gotten used to is getting better performance with StraightTalk using AT&T’s cell towers than we do through a MicroCell connection with 20GB Comcast Business Class Internet sitting behind it. Go figure.

Early Termination. The question arises whether it makes sense to cancel your existing AT&T Plan and switch to Straight Talk now. AT&T’s current policy goes like this. The Early Termination Fee is $325 minus $10 for every full month you’ve been on your plan. If you’re on the Full Enchilada Plan™ (unlimited talk, unlimited messaging, and 2GB or more of data per month), then you’re spending $130 a month versus $41.25 for the StraightTalk annual plan. So it’s costing you $88.75 for every month you delay switching. As you can see, you make up more than the Early Termination Fee in less than 4 months even if you just signed on with AT&T this week. For those that have been with AT&T at least 15 months, your time to break even on the $175 early termination fee is less than 2 months! So, unless you’re within a couple months of fulfilling your 2-year commitment on the Full Enchilada Plan, you’ll save money by ditching AT&T.

You can run your actual numbers using your AT&T phone bill. Subtract $41.25 from your current phone bill. The result is your Monthly Savings, i.e. how much you’ll save each month with StraightTalk. Next, calculate how many months you’ve been on your current AT&T Plan. Multiple that number by 10 and subtract the result from $325. That’s your actual Early Termination Fee. Finally, divide your Early Termination Fee by your Monthly Savings, and that will tell you how many months it’ll take you to start saving money by switching to StraightTalk.

Best of Both Worlds. So how do we do it? Simple. We keep one phone on an AT&T Plan with minimal features so that we can buy discounted cell phones as they are released and keep our MicroCell humming along in our office. Remember, it works with AT&T and StraightTalk cellphones as long as it is activated. For the phone plan that we actually use to do Real Work™, it’s StraightTalk all the way. Even with two phones and two separate phone plans, it’s still cheaper than an unlimited plan for one phone with AT&T. And the service is identical.

The T-Mobile Stealth Plan. We told you we had two specials to tell you about, and this next deal is equally amazing especially for kids and those that don’t talk on the phone very much. Through Wal*Mart, T-Mobile offers a pay-as-you-go plan with 100 voice minutes, unlimited texting, and unlimited data (5GB at 4G speed and 2G speed thereafter) for $30 a month. Extra voice minutes are 10¢. It’s not only an amazing deal, but the fine print doesn’t seem to preclude tethering. You can use it with any T-Mobile phone including all of Google’s Android phones. For tethering support, any rootable Android phone works as well as the unmodified $349 Galaxy Nexus purchased directly from Google. The Galaxy Nexus gives you 4G performance as well. If you don’t care about tethering but want 4G performance, then take a look at the $189 Samsung T679 available at WalMart. Beware: Most AT&T GSM phones will also work, but you’ll only get 2G data performance because of the different radio frequencies used by AT&T and T-Mobile for 3G and 4G service.

If you have T-Mobile coverage in your area or if you spend a lot of time on the interstates and want network coverage for your laptops while you’re on the move, this is the plan for you. We call it the Stealth Plan because neither WalMart nor T-Mobile says much about it. It’s only available when you first sign up for service with your newly purchased T-Mobile SIM. Despite lots of chatter to the contrary, this plan is available (but unadvertised) by purchasing a 99¢ SIM directly from T-Mobile. Trust us. You’re only risking a buck. But, beware, if you ever switch to a different plan (or if you sign up for the wrong $30 plan originally… T-Mobile and WalMart both push a lousy plan that includes 1500 talk minutes with 30MB of data for the same $30), you can never go back to the good plan without purchasing another T-Mobile SIM. To activate your T-Mobile SIM once you have your T-Mobile phone in hand, go here. Remember. Make your initial selection carefully. To buy $30 refills, here’s the link. Enjoy!

Originally published: Wednesday, July 18, 2012



Astricon 2012. Astricon 2012 will be in Atlanta at the Sheraton beginning October 23 through October 25. We hope to see many of you there. We called Atlanta home for over 25 years so we’d love to show you around. Be sure to tug on my sleeve and mention you’d like a free PIAF Thumb Drive. We’ll have a bunch of them to pass out to our loyal supporters. Nerd Vittles readers also can save 20% on your registration by using coupon code: AC12VIT.




Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.
Or Try the New, Free PBX in a Flash Conference Bridge.


whos.amung.us If you’re wondering what your fellow man is reading on Nerd Vittles these days, wonder no more. Visit our new whos.amung.us statistical web site and check out what’s happening. It’s a terrific resource both for us and for you.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID from our special Vitelity sign-up link. If you’re seeking the best flexibility in choosing an area code and phone number plus the lowest entry level pricing plus high quality calls, then Vitelity is the hands-down winner. Vitelity provides Tier A DID inbound service in over 3,000 rate centers throughout the US and Canada. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road while you get an incredible signup deal as well. The going rate for Vitelity’s DID service is $7.95 a month which includes up to 4,000 incoming minutes on two simultaneous channels with terminations priced at 1.45¢ per minute. Not any more! For PBX in a Flash users, here’s a deal you can’t (and shouldn’t) refuse! Sign up now, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls for just $3.99 a month. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! Vitelity’s rate is just 1.44¢ per minute for outbound calls in the U.S. There is a $35 prepay when you sign up. This covers future usage and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

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