So as I mentioned yesterday the Nexus 9 is already available and I picked one up yesterday during lunch for my mom. I didn't really get to mess with it too much and I'll explain why here shortly, but I'd like to share my thoughts on it nonetheless.
First off, AT&T, as I've stated multiple times, sucks. Horribly. We were without DSL for nearly two months and it took them that entire time to send someone out to fix the issue, which they naturally at first tried blaming on us as being the cause of it. It wasn't, you don't send someone to my house and try blaming tech issues on me. I'm not your average person and I know my stuff, I'll call you out and then explain why you're an idiot. With a heavy emphasis on snark and sarcasm to hammer home the point. But I digress, long story made short is they fixed the issue (which was with their equipment outside the house and in the neighborhood) and then within two weeks the router they gave me completely died. Yay! AT&T is simply the best! (If I hate to put a sarcasm tag on that last sentence we're going to have problems.)
Well, no router that works means no WiFi, and it is here why I explain my limited review time with the Nexus 9.
You can't skip the WiFi setup part of the setup process. At all. It's WiFi or bust. That is both good and bad in my opinion, anyway I had to take a trip to a friend's house and I figured things out while there.
So on to discussing the tablet.
Just FYI, I don't have as many pictures as I normally would for this, so I'll throw them in as needed and apologies for it. We were without power at work and I had to use my phone a ton while there yesterday before they let us go, I went home with something like 40% battery life remaining (and that's when I got to Best Buy to pick up the tablet) and things went downhill fast from there before I finally got to charge my phone for the day and by that point I was done messing with the tablet and too beat to take any further pics.
That kind of looks like an oversized Nexus 5, doesn't it?
Yes! It does! It even has the look of the Nexus 7 (2013)! I won't lie, I couldn't even wait to get home to check things out. The moment I jumped back in my car when I walked back out of Best Buy I did two things.
1. I threw on "Sheep Go To Heaven" by Cake. Cause the song has been in my head for days and honestly it just feels so right listening to it lately. It may or may not be a perfect representation of how I feel lately. Goats have more fun, of that I'm sure.
2. I opened the box, because I'm a child. Especially when I've got a new device in my hands. Wait to get home? Ain't nobody got time for that!
So my initial impression was, "Wow, it's a bigger Nexus 7!"
Moving on though, once I got home I was able to look at it a bit more and with less of a "me opening this and drooling over it in the Best Buy parking lot is totally not weird in the least" rush.
Now, I've read a ton of reviews on the device, all done yesterday at work and while waiting in line at Best Buy to grab it, and they're all over the place. I found a thread on reddit that really exemplified how ridiculous and over the place all the reviews are.
Can't say I disagree at all with the final review or Nexus 9 reviews. Or as several people stated in the comments, "The Nexus 9 is the Schrodinger's cat of Nexus devices." At least according to a determination of the sum of the reviews on it. Good, bad, in between. There's no general consensus.
As someone who reads a ton of reviews though, for the truly least biased and generally subjective and informative reviews, just go with Ars Technica and AnandTech for all your review needs. You won't be disappointed or think, "Wait, I thought I was reading about a Nexus device. Why have I seen more Apple mentions than anything else in this goddamn article?!" (If you don't want to flip over a desk from the rage, do yourself a favor and avoid pretty much any Android device reviews from The Verge. They weren't great to start
Like I said though, moving on!
Overall, my impression was of a well built device. I noticed no issues that were mentioned in other reviews. The back didn't bend or creak or anything, nor was there any backlight bleed on the screen when in use. I'd also like to add that my mom is someone who nitpicks over everything (what mom doesn't, amirite?) and she used her device all evening and night. If there were any noticeable issues then rest assured I would have heard about them before I even fully woke up.
Okay, so really it's luck of the draw based on the device you end up getting. What stood out from the build though to you?
The freaking display. I didn't get any great pictures like I said, but goddamn! If there is one area Google didn't skimp on the materials it is definitely the display.
At one point I was looking at it while waiting on my best friend to meet me somewhere and I was just looking at it with the screen off and thought it was like looking in a mirror. I could see my reflection clearly, I have a picture of that but I'm not sharing it. Mostly cause I don't need all of you to see what I look like. Not that that matters cause I can change my appearance drastically with a haircut and serious shave, but still.
That display though! Yeah, it's no longer the 16:9 display we've come to know and love. That 4:3 display though gives you some serious real estate to work with. For reading it is absolute perfection. For gaming, same thing. For productivity, even more so.
Honestly, I was kinda "meh" on the display from the get go based on the leaks, but up close and personal you'll love it. It was a good move and I for one can live with black bars when watching movies and whatnot, although I didn't test that out just yet. I suppose I'll do so when I have a chance and do an updated review once I do.
So how was first boot?
You know what, before I get to that apologies again for the pics. I only just now realized there is some serious black bar action going on in them. I don't remember the pictures looking like that when I took them. Not sure what the deal is with that, but that is definitely not the bottom of a giant bezel you're seeing there. Just FYI.
Back to the topic at hand, first boot was normal. It seemed a bit lengthier than I'm used to, but I haven't had to "first boot" a device in awhile. So that's really subjective, but no lengthier than what you usually see is the best way to describe it.
You can see a few pics above.
That lovely boot animation, amirite? I wish I had gotten video of that, but there's GIFs of it around and I know a certain someone who will likely post one up in the comments. No names, but you know who you are. : P
As for that WiFi part, well, not much to say about it. Minus "Fuck you, AT&T!" I seriously hate them, if we had any other options I'd switch service in a heartbeat. Gotta love those area monopolies though. Not!
I managed to get WiFi though by visiting a friend and using his WiFi. There have been some serious changes overall.
The look when entering your Google account info has changed significantly, but it's very pleasing to the eye. Also the option on what you want to restore from (as in, you no longer have a billion apps, some of which you haven't used in forever and a day, automatically restoring themselves from the get go) is absolutely wonderful. About freaking time! I just restored my mom's Nexus 7, which had a relatively recent "backup" on Google's servers and added the apps she uses daily on her Nexus 7 to the Nexus 9.
I'm getting ahead of myself though.
Once you get your WiFi connection going you'll see something that is both annoying and welcome upon first boot. A system update! You honestly can't proceed until you download and install the update. On the bright side, it is always awesome to see an update waiting for you out of the box. It rarely is bad and usually improves your device and the software on it, so I can't knock Google for having it waiting for me. In fact I applaud them for it, more OEMs should do the same thing. I'd rather deal with the minor inconvenience of having to deal with an out of the box update than hate a device for sucking out of the box cause of lackluster and sub par software. (Looking at you Samsung!)
On to why you're really here though.
What about Lollipop, man?
Nothing fancy on the homescreen. Just the usual suspects and the look of Lollipop, which should come as no big surprise to any of you by now if you've been keeping up with my posts for the past month or so.
Google Now Launcher is present on the device, swiping to the right brings it up. Also, when doing the initial setup you will be asked if you want to enable Google Now. If you aren't already using Google Now (and are able to, sorry everyone not in the U.S.) you really should be. Information you want before you even know you want it.
It's almost impossible to put into words how much I love Google Now and all it does for me. Nothing from Apple or Microsoft even remotely compares, it's just leaps and bounds better than anything they have out there or will likely come up with anytime soon. And it is everywhere!
Setting up your Google account on the device will get you that email in your Inbox. Basically just a "welcome to your Nexus 9" email.
Upon firing up Google Play Movies and TV I found a pleasant surprise. Gravity! Can't wait for my mom to watch that and let me know what she thinks.
There you have the one big app change that everyone is drooling about (and I've already been promised reddit gold and "tons and tons of internet points" if I can pull the apk and share it). The revamped and Materialized Google Calendar, complete with Google Now integration.
You know how Google Now basically ties into your email and presents you with the important stuff? Yeah, now it ties into your Calendar and sets things up for you based on your email too. No more having to manually add things.
It looks freaking sweet too!
Trust me, I'm going to work on pulling that apk. So far, based on my limited time with the device and the lack of internet at home, I have been unsuccessful. But either I'll do it or someone else will and I'll share the apk with you all. There's no real debate about this, you want it.
As for that, well that's everything on the device out of the box. Minus GAC, my mom digs country and that managed to install before I left my buddy's house after setting things up.
Nothing much to see in those pics minus one little thing. That's your Settings now, the About page and Developer Options (which have to be enabled on the former).
Anyone spot the difference from previous Developer Options settings?
"Enable OEM Unlock". You have to boot the device and enable Developer Options and then enable that setting so you can unlock your bootloader. That is a major change from how things have been done up until now. (Pointless to do so just yet anyway, since most people who would want to do that want to do so to install a custom recovery and likely root their devices. There's nothing on that front yet, trust me I spent all night checking.
Beyond that, Lollipop just kicks ass! It's a significant update and even people who don't know what it is will notice the visual changes.
For an example of that see the conversation I had with my bestie last night below.
Yeah, me and my best friend are idiots. We're hilarious idiots though. And yes, I know. I dumbed things down a lot in my explanation/description of Material Design and Lollipop, but I have to do so with some people or else I'll get all techie geek jargon on them and lose them or have them look at me like I'm a freak, crazy or both.
EDIT: I completely forgot to mention the one major change in Lollipop that I really liked was the lockscreen. You can see notifications on it and swipe them away easily enough. I will get pics this afternoon/evening and update the post accordingly that is seriously something that you'll find yourself making use of (assuming your device isn't unlocked and you're already seeing stuff stuff as it hits your navbar).
Is there anything else worth mentioning?
Yeah, the tablet itself is awesome. If you're in the market for one and can afford it you can definitely do much worse.
I know this isn't as thorough a review as some of you have seen from me, I apologize for that but honestly yesterday was pretty hectic and it is my mom's tablet. It's not mine, so I couldn't play with it as much as I normally would have. Nonetheless I did get a significant feel for the device overall and I felt I could share my thoughts on it with you all.
Thoughts, comments, questions can be directed and posted below and we can get to them as they come in.
I freaking love the tablet though! Definitely gonna have to pick one up for myself soon, maybe for Christmas.
Oh, and if you can, try getting the 32 GB version. Better to have the space and not need it than need it and not have it. My mom can make do with 16 GB, but she knows she'll eventually need more (since she's really getting into the Google Play system and buying books and apps and music and all that). So she made the call yesterday. "I want the new Nexus tablet. Whatever the biggest memory there is, get that one." She was disappointed when I said Best Buy only had the 16 GB option when I first checked, she was stoked when I found the 32 GB one. And Best Buy's reps over the phone are always helpful I've found. "Shit, I can't cancel my online order for the wrong one!" Dialed them up, lady cancelled it for me and said, "Order the right one now, sorry you couldn't do that yourself online to cancel the previous order." So helpful.
And that's all I have for you all today. There were some additional Google app updates over the weekend, but I'll save those for tomorrow and if you're lucky have that Calendar apk by then. I am not giving up on getting that! I won't be beat by a machine!