Did you know that you can now get your hands on Google products in shops? Well you can, in selected PC World outlets around the UK (and presumably abroad too). Google experts are on hand to demonstrate Google products. You can check their website here and see if you have one near you. I believe that there are also independent stockists but have not found a list of those. They really should make one.
For a Google and Android fan I have a woefully low amount of time spent hands on with their devices. First introduced to Android with the original G1 I was hooked with it’s ease of use and performance. Progressing through the I9000 Galaxy S (eventually plucking up the courage to root and install cyanogenmod) I now have the Galaxy Note N7000 (again, rooted with CM10 this time). Sadly with a lack of disposable income I have to wait for my mobile contract to expire and upgrade with my carrier before getting my hands on another.
For that reason, when I found myself in PC World in Chester buying things for work, I took the opportunity to visit their Google expert and look at their products in real life. I have been considering a Nexus 7 since they were announced and with the subsequent price drop (or storage increase – you choose) it has been hard to stop myself. If the rumoured price drop to a $99 option comes to fruition then I shall be able to resist no more! With this in mind I looked at this first.
Now lets get a bit of perspective. I understand that there are limitations to what you can demonstrate in-store. I was not expecting an experience radically different to my phone. I was not expecting to be wowed as I know it is not necesarily a fair comparison to pitch it against something the cost of an iPad. I was however expecting to try some apps, evaluate the screen and have some sort of real world experience.
As I do a fair bit of reading on kindle apps (the backlight issue has never been a problem for me), I was keen to see how that looked on the N7, forgetting of course that you need to login and I wasn’t about to do that on a demo model. Perhaps expecting there to be demo books available was a bit much? Maybe the app shouldn’t be installed if you cant do anything with it?
Moving onto the youtube app to test the screen and video capabilities, despite the apparent good wifi connection it was loading slowly. And I mean really slowly, to the point at which it could not even cache the video in about a minute of patience, which feels an awful lot longer in a shop. I even asked the Google expert in store if that was normal to which he informs me that all the wifi in the store was rooted through a single wifi point and he was having problems with all his products as they are all very heavily web based. Considering the obvious importance of a decent connection to a good google experience I asked if he could not get something like mifi in there to enable him to actually demo the products but whatever the company is that Google have employed to put experts in store wont fund that. I have a nice chat with the guy himself, and he did seem to know his stuff but was let down by lack of available connectivity and I felt sorry for him.
For me, Google seems to get a lot right. Sure there are hiccups (*cough* buzz *cough*) but in general they make good services that keep improving, products that evolve with their user’s needs and have a great future vision. I am full of hope for the cloud based future, I am comfortable with the idea and look forward to the day when it is feasible for every day life at work and home. Google really needs to get people to understand what their tablet and laptop offerings are, and how you can use them. They know that, and along with the recent TV adverts – first hand in store experience with someone who knows what they are doing are invaluable tools, but for many it will be their first experience. Without internet connectivity, the ability to demo popular apps and ways to really show off their capabilities, these first experiences will be negative and leave mobile Google products solely the domain of people like me. I am already interested because it is Google, because it is android and because I already know in advance what to expect from these products. The in store experts look like an attempt to reach the masses and convert them. I worry that from my experience it is more likely to push them away.