Living with the Nexus 9 tablet

Android tablets have always been a frustrating, particular beast for consumers. On one end, you have the dirt cheap awful tablets. On the other, you have the relatively cheap good tablets. Walk into any brick and mortar store, and you will find an Android tablet. Whether it is any good is dependent on a myriad of factors. Google’s own Nexus linehas had great success for tablets so far. The 2012 Nexus 7 was a fantastic, budget conscious tablet that shook the industry. Following it, the Nexus 10, was more complicated. Not because of hardware, but because Android has long had an issue with larger screens. 2013 came and with it the next Nexus 7. This was, to date, the best Android tablet I have ever seen or used. It was cheap, thin, light, fast, and had good build quality.

nexus-9-nexus-7

With HTC behind the Nexus 9, Google’s only Android tablet in the lineup this year. Would we see more of the Nexus line magic, or has the act fallen flat?

SPECS

nexus-9-specs

These are solid specs for a tablet in 2014. The trend of tablet upgrades seems to be closer to laptops than smartphones. This means that specs need to be more carefully considered. Due to the fact that you might be toting around a tablet for two to three years. The Nexus 9 is no slouch in any aspect. The Nvidia Tegra K1 “Denver” SoC is 64-bit capable, which is what the Nexus 9 comes with. This adds to future growth and longevity in the life of the tablet due to 64-bit being the next wave in mobile computing. The Nexus 9 comes with 2GB of RAM, which is more than plenty for today and tomorrows standards in mobile computing. The largest storage offering being 32 gigabytes is a bit of a disappointment, especially considering iPad’s offer up to 128 gigabytes.

nexus-9-screen

Gaming on the Nexus 9 is buttery smooth. Nvidia knows gaming. Every game I threw at it played incredibly well with absolutely no lag. Specs are clearly not the problem with the Nexus 9.

SCREEN

The Nexus 9 comes with a 2048×1536 resolution display packed into an 8.9inch, 4:3 aspect ratio form factor. The screen is incredibly crisp and vivid, colors are accurate, and viewing angles are good. Everything about the display on the Nexus 9 oozes a good display. One minor to major negative(depending on how prominent it is for you) is the occurrence of light bleed around the edges of the display. For my Nexus 9, it was there when you would look for it. But it was hard to see in real world usage unless the backlit screen went black(while still being on). This was one of the minor gripes of the Nexus 9. An otherwise stellar screen that could be spoiled by light bleed.

nexus-9-lollipop

The screen is indeed at the 4:3 aspect ratio that fruit branded tablets have been sitting at for quite some time. I thoroughly enjoyed using my iPad throughout the years. I also immensely enjoyed the 16:9 aspect ratio of the Nexus 7. For a tablet that calls for two hands for normal use, the 4:3 aspect ratio is wonderful. Web pages were big and beautiful, photos were phenomenal, and games played immensely well. Video had two black bars to compensate, but that is truly a non-issue.

LOOK AND FEEL

The Nexus 9 is a largely non assuming device, just like all Nexus devices tend to be. On the front of the device, the Nexus 9 possesses only the 8.9 inch screen, the two front facing speakers, and the front facing camera. The back of the device has the HTC badge, horizontal Nexus logo, 8MP camera that is slightly protruding, and nothing else. The back of the device is the typical Nexus style soft touch plastic. It feels good in the hand, just like all other Nexus devices. The rear edges slope slightly at the corners along the back of the device. This is why the camera protrudes slightly. Luckily, the tablet still lies flat when placed down on a table. The sides of the device consist of a brushed metal, giving it a faux premium feel.

nexus-9-books

The left side of the device houses absolutely nothing. While the right side houses the absolutely atrocious power and volume buttons. These buttons have literally no travel and sit nearly flush along the side of the device. There is no redeeming quality in these buttons, they are absolutely terrible. The headphone jack lies on the top of the device, with the MicroUSB port sitting on the bottom. Standard for a tablet or smartphone in todays world. The sides of the device are angled ever so slightly travelling from back to front, much like the Nexus 5. This causes sharp edges along front of the device, but doesn’t cause discomfort.

The device is incredibly light, coming in at under 1lb. In one handed and two handed use, the device was great to use. There was no fatigue when holding the tablet for extended amounts of time(seeing as I could not purchase the official cover for over a month after release).

BUILD QUALITY

When it comes to devices, HTC has stellar build quality. Looking at the HTC One, with a metal body that could seemingly be run over by a tank, they lead the industry. When HTC was leaked as the company behind the next Nexus tablet, the hardware lover in me started drooling. Unfortunately, no part of HTC’s build quality is present here. This device is more Nexus than HTC in terms of build quality. The device feels flimsy and frail when you hold it. Not because it comes in at a paltry 15oz. But rather because I can literally bend the Nexus 9 with little to no force.

nexus-9-bend

Ew

The back of the Nexus 9 also has a bubble/air gap. If you press down on the back of the device, at the Nexus branding, you can push the backing of the Nexus 9 down. This makes the device feel even cheaper than the bending already does.

The Nexus 9 has disappointing build quality. It feels cheap and flimsy. Take the iPad Air, for example. It’s lightweight yet incredibly sturdy. It’s not that it cannot be done, it’s just that HTC and Google couldn’t do it.

BATTERY LIFE

Battery life is one of the most important aspects of a tablet. Tablets are not designed to be recharged every night like a smartphone. A good tablet should have a battery that lasts more than a few days with normal content consuming use.

nexus-9-speaker

In order to find exactly how well the battery would hold up, I charged my tablet up to 100% before leaving for Thanksgiving break, and refused to charge it during the entire trip. During the trip, I read, browsed the web, watched three hours of TV and a two and a half hour movie. The tablet held up for the entire week long trip. In super-scientific rundown tests, the battery will last for roughly five to six hours of screen on time. This is pretty great for a tablet, and is one of the saving graces of the Nexus 9. Idle battery drain is minimal for an Android tablet as well.

SOFTWARE

The Nexus 9 runs Stock Android 5.0 Lollipop(duh). On the Nexus 9, Lollipop runs like a dream. There is no lag or stuttering in my use. Animations are smooth and fluid, app switching is full of speed, and transitions are zippy.

nexus-9

For more on Android 5.0 Lollipop, be sure to check out my full review right here.

HTC has added a software tweak to Stock Android in the form of a double tap to wake function on the screen. This is a great addition to the Nexus 9 considering how awful the buttons on the device are.

Lollipop is not without problems on the Nexus 9, though. Android has long been neglectful of tablet-specific interfaces and app design. Lollipop is superior on smartphones because most app seems to be designed for smartphones rather than tablets. Tablet apps are riddled with black spaces or blown up smartphone layouts. Few apps are tablet optimized, and it is a real problem in Android.

CAMERA

The Nexus 9 has a camera. One, don’t take pictures with tablets. Two, don’t take pictures with tablets. Three, if you didn’t listen to me, the camera is pretty terrible. Well lit photos still came through with noise. It just isn’t a good camera. But it’s a camera on a tablet. What were you expecting?

nexus-9-camera

CONCLUSION

Is the Nexus 9 a great tablet? No. Is the Nexus 9 a good tablet? No. Is the Nexus 9 a pretty good tablet? Yes.

The Nexus 9 is the road Google chose to travel this year. After the fantastic Nexus 7, hopes were high for Google’s next tablet. Unfortunately for Google and HTC, the price point they chose has made this tablet out of reach for most. With a starting price of $399 for the 16GB model and $479 for the 32GB model, it is not worth the price considering the quality of the Nexus 9. Especially considering the Nexus 7 was $229 and iPad’s are looming for just a few dollars more. That being said, it’s possesses Nvidia’s K1 64-bit chipset, a great screen, and stock Android. There are some saving graces for this tablet. But it’s hard to overlook the many drawbacks.

nexus-9-top

The Nexus 9 is a mediocre tablet with a premium price tag. That’s the opposite formula for a great tablet.

Best Tech of 2014

2014 was a big year for me. I started writing more. I wrote a few stories and reviews that were noticed, which was awesome. What drives me to write is simple: I love consumer technology. I especially love to find out why people use the devices they use. Looking back at 2014, this is the technology that I loved using the most.

SMARTPHONES

2014 was another year of great smartphones. OnePlus rose out of nowhere and made one of the best phones of the year. Motorola made not one, not two, but three fantastic phones in the Moto G, Moto X, and Nexus 6.

THE ONEPLUS ONE

Goodness gracious. This was easily one of my favorite phones I have ever used. Looking at the hardware, the software, and the camera; it’s clear to see this was a great phone. Then you proceed to look at the price. There is no better phone for the money. The big problem still exists though. The fact that you still cannot buy one conventionally(I get invites often, so be sure to follow me!). Hopefully that gets sorted out a little better with the OnePlus Two.

oneplus-one

PRICE: $349

THE MOTO X

Motorola is the phone company that could. My first phone was a Motorola. The first dual core smartphone was a Motorola. Somehow, someway, they went astray. Once they were aqcuired by Google, everything changed. The Moto X was the best phone of 2013. 2014’s Moto X was so close to being great for almost everyone. In my experiences, the camera and battery tended to be sub-par. But regardless, the Moto X is the Android device for almost everyone. Potential Apple converts take note.

moto x

PRICE: STARTING AT $99

THE NEXUS 6

Even though I’m not finished reviewing the Nexus 6, most of my opinions are solidified about it. It’s a large device, it’s a beautiful device, it’s a confusing device. The Nexus 6 is Google’s official foray into the mainstream smartphone competition. It has great hardware, Lollipop is gorgeous and immensely refined, and the camera is fantastic(almost always). Google has a clear winner here. Now if only they could keep them in stock.

Nexus 6

PRICE: $649.00

TABLETS

Two of my last four smartphones have been considered “phablets”.

Studies have shown that the larger the phone screen, the less use your tablet sees. This has been true in my usage, too. I like my Nexus 9, but I don’t love it. Tablets have essentially plateaued in advancement and adoption. This year, tablets have been quite boring. Apple’s iPad Air 2 is the best iPad ever. Which clearly means it’s the best tablet of the year. The best small tablet is either the 2013 Nexus 7 or last years iPad Mini 2. Not an interesting year for tablets.

SMART ACCESSORIES

Every year that passes is supposed to be the year of the wearables. I can assure you that Apple’s iWatch won’t revolutionize the industry. Android Wear won’t have an update next year to change everything either. Pebble won’t make a gargantuan leap forward. Smartwatches will slowly evolve and adapt to our needs as time goes on. But they will not take the market by storm like smartphones and tablets have. Because as it stands, Smartwatches are still unnecessary.

MOTO 360

This is it. This is king of Android Wear. I planned to buy most of the Android Wear lineup to review. But once I started using my Moto 360. As a consumer, I could not justify it. I did not need to look any further than the Moto 360. It has one to two day battery life, a heart rate monitor, and a gorgeous modern design. If you want an Android Wear Smartwatch, you get a Moto 360.

moto 360

PRICE: $249.00

GAMING

I’m not a huge gamer, but when I do game, I’m very particular about how I spend my time.

NINTENDO 3DSXL

Some say mobile game consoles are dead. I tell them to look at the Nintendo 3DS. The 3DS released in 2011, and much like the DS before it, has had multiple incremental updates and iterations. The Nintendo 3DSXL is one of the best handhelds I’ve ever used. The 3DS library has slowly grown into a stunning catalog. I find it hard to keep just six games with me at a time(all my case will hold). With strong titles like Super Smash Bros and Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire being released this year, Nintendo still has quite the head of steam.

pokemon

PRICE: $196

WII U

Continuing on the love for Nintendo with the Wii U. I thought the Wii U was awful when it first released. Whenever the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were announced, I chose to feasibly weigh all my options. Games I would play being the deciding factor. The Wii U won 8–2–2. It’s easily the best $300 I’ve spent this year. With The Legend of Zelda: The WindWaker HD, Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, and now Super Smash Bros. The Wii U has a catalog that is more fun than any I’ve played in recent memory. Nintendo makes games that are fun for all.

PRICE: $399

ACCESSORIES

I’m a huge fan of accessories. I’m always on the move, so mobile conscious accessories are a must for me. Not all accessories have to be mobile, though.

TIMBUK2 COMMUTE CUSTOM MESSENGER

If you haven’t heard of Timbuk2, you are missing out. The Commute has so many different pockets of different shapes and sizes. Perfect for all my cords, wall warts, and gadgets. I customized mine to set it apart from the rest. The best part about the Commute is that it’s also TSA friendly.

timbuk2

PRICE: $119

COOLER MASTER JAS MINI

I found this awesome stand through LinusTechTips. First off, if you don’t know LinusTechTips and you have any interest in PCs at all. You HAVE to subscribe to them. Absolutely top notch videos and information.

I found this on the fourth episode of their “Handy Tech Under $100” series. It’s a simple, relatively cheap mobile device stand. The legs scissor for different angles of use. The stand is also pretty to look at. I love using mine in the kitchen while I’m cooking. Or in my office to use my tablet as a second(or third) screen.

master-jas

PRICE: $26.74

ANKER 36W 4 PORT TRAVEL CHARGER

When I travel, I usually carry two phones, a tablet, my laptop, my 3DS or Vita, and my camera. So every outlet counts. The Anker 4 Port Travel Charger lets me charge four USB devices off one outlet. The brick is thin enough and not too heavy. It also has designated ports for Android and Apple devices. Anker has long had fantastic products at a great price. If you travel, it’s definitely worth picking up.

anker

PRICE: $19.99

APPS

There have been some great apps in 2014, some paid some free. I tend to keep my devices pretty slim when it comes to apps. But here are the ones I particularly enjoyed.

PAID

GOAT SIMULATOR

Judge me if you want, but I love Goat Simulator on PC. I was a day one buyer of the Android version and have not regretted it one bit.

goat-simulator

PRICE: $4.99

MONUMENT VALLEY

This is such a gorgeous game. Well worth the price for the original game and the DLC. It’s a “get the character from point A to B by manipulating the environment” style game. What sets Monument Valley apart, however, is how every level has the potential to be your next wallpaper.

monument valley

PRICE: $3.99

THREES!

I’ll be honest, I no longer have this game installed on my phone, just my tablet. The reasoning being, I would be incredibly antisocial if the game was in my pocket at all times. Combine blue 1 tiles with red/pink 2 tiles to make Threes. Combine Threes to make Sixes, so on and so forth.

threes

PRICE: $1.99

LINK BUBBLE PRO

Developer Chris Lacy is great at what he does. He took inspiration from Facebook’s Chatheads and created a fantastic bubble browser. It’s regularly updated and he is super receptive and personable to his users. Great app, and an even better dev.

link-bubble-pro

PRICE: $3.99

NOVA LAUNCHER PRIME

I love Nova Launcher because I like to organize folders and tabs to my liking for my apps. With the ability to back up configurations to the cloud, switching devices is so easy with Nova.

nova-launcher-prime

PRICE: $4.00

REDDIT NEWS PRO

This Reddit News app is chock full of Material Design. It’s super gorgeous and fluid. Perfect for any redditor.

reddit-news-pro

PRICE: $1.99

GOOGLE PLAY MUSIC ALL ACCESS

I still buy all of my music through iTunes. But Google Play Music allows me to push my entire iTunes library to their cloud. I snagged the $7.99/mo special on launch day and haven’t looked back.

google-play-all-access

PRICE: $9.99/MO

Free

STRAVA

I’m a runner. I’m connected. Strava lets you connect with other runners, have real time updates on your mileage and pacing, and compete in challenges. It is compatible with Android Wear and Google Glass, too. Having recently added Google Fit integration, it is a mainstay for me above all other running apps.

strava

PRICE: FREE

IFTTT

The service for the internet of things. IFTTT(If This, Then That) can connect to a giant pile of web services and web connected gadgets. The app is polished and lets you create Android-specific recipes, too.

ifttt

PRICE: FREE

CHROME REMOTE DESKTOP

If I ever need to access my desktop from afar, this is the easiest way to do so. It’s free, too.

chrome-remote

PRICE: FREE

OTHER FUN STUFF

There have been some great non-tech related goodies I’ve found this year. Some are within my niche interests such as photography, running, or coffee. Others are just plain awesome.

LOOT CRATE

These curated boxes full of geeky goodness are one of the highlights of my month. Every month, there is a different theme(such as fight, battle, galactic). They then get some great little trinkets that coincide with that theme.

PRICE: $13.37/MO

ABLE BREWING CO.

The guys over at Able Brewing love coffee. They love coffee tech, too. Having created their own brewing system with the Kone, and creating reusable filters for both the AeroPress and Chemex. They are some of the best in the business.

LEARN MORE

Now. Here’s where it gets fun. I have a poll that’s live on Google+ that lists my five favorite items on this list that are under $200. The one with the most votes will be given away at random to one lucky follower of mine! The only catch? You have to vote and reshare the poll. Happy Holidays to everyone!

Astronaut photography with Don Pettit

You’ve never seen space like this. This short film gives an inside look at how NASA Astronaut photographer Don Pettit captures breathtaking images of Earth’s most famous phenomena – aurora, star trails, city lights, and more – from the inside the International Space Station.

How to download from SoundCloud using 4K Download’s YouTube to MP3 tool

SoundCloud has quickly grown into one of the world’s biggest online streaming service, and it comes as no surprise given everything they have to offer. The online music streaming service is a boon for individual artists and listeners alike to discover and follow new artists from every corner of the world. When it comes to music, there are no language and region barriers, and abolishing them has just what SoundCloud has effectively done. SoundCloud has efficiently managed to connect artists to the ardent music listeners and grow further their fan base.

While it was all seeming good from the artists’ point of view on this service, it would not be feasible for music listeners to get online and stream their favorite artists’ music every time. Going online whenever you need to listen to a few songs from SoundCloud doesn’t seem to plausible and that’s when you ought to download them as high quality MP3 files and store them to your device for offline playback without any issues. While there are many online services offering you to download SoundCloud clips, they rarely offer you something above par the audio quality you would wish for. But in 4K Download’s YouTube to MP3 tool, you would have an all-in-one tool for downloading your favorite audio files from multiple sources.

Introducing 4K Download YouTube to MP3

4K YouTube to MP3 Homescreen How to download from SoundCloud using 4K Download’s YouTube to MP3 tool

Having a handy tool is great for grabbing those SoundCloud clips you love to hear. 4K Download’s YouTube to MP3 is one such tool that would help you accomplish exactly what you need, in a split second. You can download 4K YouTube to MP3 tool from their official website. The tool comes in at a 21MB download and is supported on multiple platforms including Windows, Mac OS X 10.6+, Linux and Ubuntu. The multiple platform support is a further advantage for the linearity on different systems. You will be welcomed with a screen seen above once you are done with the installation.

Copy SoundCloud URL

4k YouTube to MP3 Copy Soundcloud URL How to download from SoundCloud using 4K Download’s YouTube to MP3 tool

The downloading of your favorite tunes from SoundCloud using this tool is pretty straightforward and all you need to is to copy the URL of the song location. For that, you can head over to SoundCloud and explore different artists and trending songs. Here you can see that we accessed John Mayer’s official SoundCloud account and copied one of his latest hit tunes.

At this step, the copied song URL is everything that you would need for downloading them via this tool. The URL copied needs to be only on your clipboard and you won’t be asked to manually paste it somewhere.

Pasting the URL and downloading the file

You can head back to the tool once you have copied the URL from SoundCloud. Now to start the downloading process, you can hit the ‘Paste URL’ in the top left section and watch the audio file being downloaded instantaneously. Now you can open your downloaded file and savor the melodies.

Take control of the output audio quality

You can take control of the output audio file with this tool unlike all other online based SoundCloud downloading services. Head over to the preferences tab to take control of a host of settings including the output audio file format, quality and adding them to your iTunes account.

Conclusion – The best tool for grabbing those euphonious SoundCloud clips

4K Download’s YouTube to MP3 tool is the first and the last one you would ever need for grabbing those great SoundCloud audio clips with ease. The tool makes the process simpler, hassle free and its multiple system support is an added feather in its cap. Unlike other online based counterparts, this tool lets you take entire control of your audio file and will make sure you wouldn’t be disappointed with the quality or format of the final output file

Our Rating – 4.8 Out of 5