The Nexus 7 is now available to the masses, and I just received mine yesterday. It’s a good device, but it’s not without its fair share of issues. The device is a small 7 inch tablet that features solid design, but it lacks the elegance of the iPad. For $199, I think that pretty much goes without saying. Actually, something strange happened with my Nexus 7 order – I received a 16GB Nexus 7, instead of the 8GB version that I ordered. Is this Google’s way of kissing up to a known Apple guy? Who knows, but you won’t find me complaining about it.

Since you’ve probably heard a million different opinions about the Nexus 7 already, I’m going to keep this short and concise. First of all, let’s talk about the good…

The good:
The best thing about the Nexus 7, like its 7 inch brethren, the Kindle Fire, is that it’s extraordinarily inexpensive. With that in mind, you feel a lot less compelled to be overly worried about the device’s well-being. It becomes more of a tool and less of a work of art that requires your own personal docent. I know everyone doesn’t have this problem, but sometimes I feel like I’m downright obsessive when it comes to making sure that I don’t scratch the aluminum or scuff the glass. At $199, I feel much less worried about the way I treat my Nexus 7. As one blogger brought out, it has “tossability”.

Since I’ve used a 7 inch tablet in the past, the form factor wasn’t that big of a shock to me this go ’round, but it does reiterate how great a form factor it is. In fact, I outright prefer this form factor to the iPad’s larger screen. That’s not to say that I don’t love the larger iPad, because I do, but there’s simply no denying that the smaller form factor can be practical in a variety of circumstances. For instance, right now, I’m holding the Nexus 7 in portrait mode, while laying on my bed and typing this review. Yes, I wrote this entire post using my Nexus 7. I would never be able to do that with the iPad, because my arms and hands would have worn out from fatigue two paragraphs ago.

Another area that I really enjoy about the Nexus 7 is the software. Now granted, we aren’t talking about Apple levels of synergy between software and hardware, but Android has come a very long way in this regard. Jelly Bean isn’t a massive overhaul over its predecessor, but that’s what makes it work so well. Google has continued to iron out the idiosyncrasies, and they’ve added awesome features like Google Now into the fold. The end result is a very complete feeling operating system.

Speaking of software, fans of Google will be in heaven. All of the popular Google Apps are here, and hardly any of them are gimped like their iOS cousins tend to be. If you’re wrapped tightly inside the Google ecosystem like I am, then chances are you’ll find Jelly Bean extremely engaging and satisfying to use.

The not so good:
While I really like the hardware, there are still some major signs that you paid under $200 bucks for this thing. Light leakage from the edge of the screen has turned out to be an annoyance, as is random screen flicker. There’s just no way that the Nexus 7 can compete on the same level of Apple’s premium iPad offering, but any sane person would head into the deal with lowered expectations anyway. Still, there’s no denying that it will take some adjustment time if you’re used to the high quality Apple gear, not to mention the Retina display.

I praised the software above, but it’s also the source of one of Nexus’ main failing points. iOS is infinitely smoother in function, no matter how much butter or margarine Google puts into Android’s batter. Once everything is cooked, Apple is still very much ahead of Google this area. While it has definitely improved over the years, animations, scrolling, swiping, and pretty much every other UX element still lags behind iOS.

The bottom Line:
When you consider the pluses and minuses of Google’s tablet, the pluses win out. The Nexus 7 is an awesome device. It’s not amazing, and nothing it does will make your jaw drop from disbelief, but it’s the first rock solid Android tablet I’ve ever used, and highly worthy of your consideration. If the thought of shelling out any money to the “enemy” makes you shudder with disgust, then sure, wait on the iPad mini. The fact of the matter is that Google is still going to sell tons of these suckers, whether you’re on board or not.

I think that the iPad mini has always been in the cards, “just in case”, and now the case has been made. The Kindle Fire was first, but it had too many obstacles with Amazon’s involvement. The forked Android software was way too niche to act as a serious threat to Apple. But with the Nexus 7, the barrier to entry is virtually nonexistent, and therefore Apple must respond. Make no mistake, Apple will respond, and the result will likely be something more polished than the Nexus 7. But that day of reckoning is still months away, and the Nexus 7 is available now.

The Nexus 7 isn’t perfect, and Android Jelly Bean still lacks the extreme level of polish present in iOS, but it’s by far the best Android tablet, and arguably the best Android device, well, ever. There’s more than enough room in this space for another serious tablet competitor, which makes me believe that it’s well worth a look from all but the most uncompromising of Android opposers.