Pad (which was the better choice). This time, we look at the tablet on its own, and along side HTC's companion folio keyboard.
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The Nexus 9 tablet is manufactured by HTC, runs android Lollipop, & costs $400 on its own. Google is pitching this as a productivity, work-forward device, so it's also selling an HTC-made magnetic keyboard accessory for $130. We test both of these in this review.Alex Washburn / WIRED
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Excellent front-facing stereo speakers and a very nice screen. Light, comfortable to lớn hold. Runs the latest version of stock Android, which has improved since launch. Very solid battery life. Keyboard cover Folio (sold separately) is a nice option for entering lots of text.
Not as consistently fast as it should be. Screen is too reflective for some outdoor conditions. Optional Keyboard Folio is buggy, và using it on the fly can grow annoying.
When Google's Nexus 9 tablet first came out a few months ago, I tested it in direct comparison with the i
Pad Air 2. I decided Apple's tablet was the better choice for di động computing at the time. Now that the Nexus 9 has been around a bit (and many of apk Lollipop's shortcomings have been addressed) I'm going khổng lồ look at the Nexus on its own. You can consider this our definitive review. I also tested the tablet with a handy accessory: HTC's companion folio keyboard, which closes magnetically, pairs wirelessly, and offers you a physical typing experience akin khổng lồ what you'd get with a laptop.
Meet the Tablet
Google's first brand-name app android tablet, the Nexus 7, went through two iterations. The first was $200, & the second, even though it was more powerful, was still only $230. At those base prices, they were unbeatable devices. They found the sweet spot on the good/cheap graph. On the other side of the coin, we also saw the Nexus 10, Google's 10-inch tablet that cost $400 when it launched in October 2012. It wasn't a bad tablet, per se, but it also wasn't a good tablet, per se.
Flash forward. Google's newest tablet is the Nexus 9, with hardware made by HTC. Starting at $400, it couldn't qualify as cheap & doesn't have the same sticker appeal as Google's 7-inchers. So the question then becomes, "Is it good enough lớn be worth the expense?"
Let's start off with the basic specs. The Nexus 9 weighs 15 ounces & has external dimensions of 8.98 x 6.05 x 0.31 inches. That makes it just a little lighter, shorter, and narrower than Apple's i
Pad Air 2, though the Air 2 is thinner. (Read our full Nexus 9 vs i
Pad Air 2 comparison) The Nexus has an 8.9-inch IPS LCD screen with a 1536 x 2048 pixel resolution, which gives you 281 pixels per inch (PPI). It has 2GB of RAM và it runs on Nvidia's speedy Tegra K1 (with Kepler DX1 GPU) clocked at 2.3GHz. & of course, it runs the latest version of stock Android, straight out of Google's toolshed: game android 5.0, aka Lollipop.
Physically, it's fine to look at. It lacks the aluminum or glass back you find on the i
Pad Air 2 or Sony's Xperia Z3 phablet, respectively. Instead you get brushed plastic. The result is that it doesn't look or feel as high-end as the others, but hey, let's not be shallow. That plastic back is actually far grippier than glass or aluminum, và as a result, I felt much less likely to lớn drop the Nexus 9. It's thicker than those other two tablets, but it's so nicely balanced that it's very comfortable to lớn hold.
One of the best physical features on the tablet: the dual-front facing speakers. Not only vày they pump out a lot of sound, but they vì it very cleanly—for tablet speakers, anyway. Because they're on the front of the tablet, it's nearly impossible to lớn block them with your hands. This is especially great for gaming. When playing Dead Trigger 2, I actually had lớn turn the volume down some because it was really stressing me out. In contrast, put D'Angelo's new album on there & you'll be ready for baby-making at any volume.
The software is generally excellent. Lollipop is unquestionably the best version of game android yet.
The display is good, if not world-changing. It has very high PPI, và indeed, individual pixels are indiscernible lớn the naked eye. It also pumps out a lot of light, which helps keep text readable and images clear when you're sitting in the sun. Unfortunately, the screen is very reflective, so some of those gains are lost khổng lồ glare. Colors look very good, but the display doesn't have those deep, inky blacks you find on the Super AMOLED screens Samsung uses on its high-end devices.
The software is generally excellent. Lollipop is unquestionably the best version of game android yet. It looks và works a bit better on phones (such as the Nexus 6, Nexus 5, và Moto X) than it does here, but it's still fluid, capable, and generally very intuitive.
While initially testing this tablet a few months ago, my impressions were that the software wasn't quite up to snuff yet. There was a lot of lag, delay, & other weird anomalies. I'm happy to report that subsequent software updates have definitely improved things. That said, the experience still isn't as fast or as smooth as the i
Pad Air 2. Apps definitely don't launch as quickly, & there's just a bit more delay when scrolling around. It's weird. Sometimes it hesitates, và sometimes it's lightning fast. I have a feeling it's a memory allocation issue, but that's just a guess.
I also spent the last couple weeks testing the $130 Nexus 9 Keyboard Folio. Made by HTC, this optional extra is both a bluetooth không dây keyboard and a cover that protects the tablet's front và back. In theory, it would put the Nexus 9 in contention with other tablet/laptop hybrids, such as Microsoft's Surface Pro 3, or transform it into a more capable Chromebook. While I wouldn't go as far as saying this keyboard is better than what you'd get on a laptop, the keyboard is pretty good in a lot of ways.
By Dan Seifert, an editor overseeing The Verge’s product đánh giá and service journalism programs. Dan has covered the technology world for over a decade at The Verge.
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For years, Apple’s i
Pad has mix the bar for tablets. If you are making a tablet, the i
Pad is what you’ll be judged against & ultimately compete with. In light of this, Google has traditionally worked around Apple’s tablets: the small và cheap Nexus 7 carved out a niche for itself by filling a need Apple’s tablets didn’t.
Now small & cheap tablets are ubiquitous and Google doesn’t need lớn show other manufacturers how it’s done anymore. So for its new Nexus 9, Google took a different approach: it went straight for the i
Pad. The Nexus 9 starts at $399, has a display with the same resolution & aspect ratio as Apple’s tablets, & is made of more premium materials (read: metal). It also has a new, powerful Nvidia processor (the first 64-bit chip in an game android device), lots of RAM, & the latest và greatest app android software from Google.
With the Nexus 9, Google is putting forth its best effort to beat or match the i
Pad. But unfortunately, the Nexus 9 doesn’t beat the i
Pad in anything. Và in many places, it doesn’t even keep up.
Google commissioned điện thoại htc to build the Nexus 9, but it looks so similar khổng lồ last year’s LG-made Nexus 5 that it’s very clear Google led the thiết kế direction here. The back of the tablet looks exactly lượt thích the back of a Nexus 5, only bigger, và the soft cảm ứng finish on my black reviews unit is virtually identical to lớn the 5’s finish. HTC’s influence can be seen in the metal sides of the 9, though they look identical lớn the plastic sides of the Nexus 5.
In terms of size, the Nexus 9 sits right between the i
Pad mini và i
Pad Air, but it’s no more portable than the Air, despite having a smaller display. It’s slightly shorter, slightly narrower, & slightly thicker than Apple’s flagship, but takes up the same practical space in my shoulder bag (and doesn’t fit in the pockets of any piece of clothing I own). It’s virtually the same weight as the Air 2 & noticeably heavier than the mini 2 or 3, so it can be tiring lớn hold in one hand for long periods of time. Given that the Nexus 9 doesn’t offer any apparent physical kích cỡ advantages over the Air 2, I’d rather have the i
Pad’s larger display than the 9’s jack-of-all-trades compromise.
Despite HTC’s manufacturing pedigree, there are many places where it feels like corners were cut on the Nexus 9. The nguồn button và volume rockers feel low-rent & mushy và are too flush with the body. The plastic rear doesn’t hold a candle lớn the metal finishes táo khuyết uses on the i
Pad, và there are flexes and loose panels on more than one of our review units. All of that would be excusable on a low-cost tablet lượt thích the Nexus 7, but the Nexus 9 costs as much or more than a competing i
On a positive note, the Nexus 9’s front-facing speakers are loud và sound great. I wish every điện thoại cảm ứng thông minh and tablet had front-facing speakers, it’s just such a smart thiết kế decision. The speakers vì chưng get covered by my thumbs when I hold the Nexus 9 in landscape, but that didn’t affect the volume or sound unique in meaningful ways. If there’s one thing táo bị cắn could learn from the Nexus 9, it’s that speakers belong on the front of a tablet.
The 9’s 8-megapixel rear camera & flash is par for the course for tablet cameras (i.e. Not great và won’t beat a good smartphone), but more annoying is how slow it is khổng lồ focus & take a photo. The front 1.6-megapixel camera is fine for what it’s designed lớn do: take selfies and do video clip chats.I wish every điện thoại cảm ứng and tablet had the Nexus 9"s speakers
Google is selling a couple of official cases to lớn go along with the Nexus 9, including a $129 keyboard folio (with a dedicated emoji key) that’s similar lớn the keyboard Microsoft offers for the Surface. Unfortunately, Google wasn’t able lớn provide a keyboard to me in time for this reviews (and it’s not yet available for preorder or purchase), so I will have khổng lồ provide an update once I’ve spent some time with it.
The Nexus 9 is the first device to ship with Google’s brand new app android 5.0 Lollipop. Lollipop brings the biggest changes to how android looks and feels since the debut of app android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich back in 2011. It’s centered around a new design ethos, which Google calls Material Design, và it’s full of new animations and màu sắc palettes. It’s the best game android has ever looked.
We’ll have a lot more on Lollipop in our upcoming đánh giá of android 5.0, but there are some significant things for the Nexus 9 included with it. Google has updated many of its core apps khổng lồ comply with the new Material thiết kế guidelines, including a new Gmail tiện ích that supports other IMAP & Exchange accounts. The Nexus 9 also has a brand new calendar phầm mềm that integrates with tin nhắn to show upcoming appointments and flight schedules, & automatically inserts fun images for certain appointments such as "coffee" & "doctor visit."Lollipop is the best apk has ever looked
The multi-account support that’s been available on android tablets since version 4.2 has been refined & improved. There’s an easily accessible guest mode, so you can hand your tablet off lớn someone else and not have to set them up with a full account to protect your private data. Apple’s i
Pads still don’t have multiple user support, và it’s a great thing khổng lồ have if you chia sẻ a tablet among a household.
But despite the new animations, updated apps, & fresh coat of paint, app android 5.0 Lollipop on the Nexus 9 doesn’t feel much different than it would on a smartphone or phablet. Google hasn’t done much lớn optimize the platform for the 9’s larger display và there aren’t any different multitasking or productivity features than what you’d find on an app android smartphone. Though many of Google’s own apps are designed lớn work well on tablets, the vast majority of third-party apps in the Google Play Store still look ridiculous on such a large screen. For all that Google has done to improve the hardware on its apk tablets, the phầm mềm situation is where táo khuyết still has the farthest lead, & the Nexus 9 & Lollipop vày nothing khổng lồ close that gap.
This year, Google was given an unexpected opportunity. Apple’s annual refresh of its tablet line didn’t blow anyone away, and actually left many disappointed, hoping for more. Had Google hit everything right with the Nexus 9 — the price, the hardware, the performance, và the software — it could have really challenged Apple’s position.The Nexus 9 just isn"t as good as it needs lớn be
But unfortunately, the Nexus 9 just isn’t as good as it needs to lớn be. It’s priced as high or higher than Apple’s tablets, but doesn’t offer anything in terms of hardware or performance khổng lồ sway someone from just purchasing an i
Pad instead. The Nexus 9 would make a killer $249 or $299 tablet, but at $399, even last year’s i
Pad Air is a better buy for the vast majority of people. And if you want something smaller than the i
Pad Air, last year’s i
Pad mini 2 undercuts the Nexus 9 by a full $100, while offering a better experience all around. It’s hard to recommend the Nexus 9 lớn anyone outside of diehard app android fans.
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Beating the i
Pad is hard. Many have tried, many have failed. The Nexus 9 is Google’s closest shot yet, but it still misses the mark.