Unless you don’t use the Internet, you’ve probably heard that the new Asus Nexus 7 2013 (2nd Edition) is the best tablet on the planet. And a steal at €229. Great screen, great sound, great battery life, light, thin, etc. But it’s got a very big problem that none of the press have talked about.
I got mine from fnac.es at a discount price of €211.09 including delivery. Fantastic. It arrived, and I spent a few hours setting it all up just how I liked it. I got all my apps and the latest Android version, 4.3. Then, gradually, things got weird. Dragging my finger around the screen got really frustrating – it would behave as if I’d let my finger off the screen mid-drag. The net effect of this is that apps went crazy thinking I’d clicked when I hadn’t. I tried with more flesh on the screen, less, slowly, quickly. No deal.
Naturally, I Googled the problem. I am not alone. Look here at Google’s Product Forum on Google Groups. At the time of writing it’s saying 1000 posts by 303 authors. There’s so many posts that my browser goes into a memory-starved spin trying to load and render them.
Some say that the problem is relieved by plugging the pad into a USB charger lead. Not exactly handy for a portable solution.
Some other videos on YouTube suggest a soft reset or reseating the touch screen digitiser cables. A 2 day old device shouldn’t need that. The consumer protection rules here in Spain mean it’s not really worth messing with something within a week of buying it, just send it back.
I found completely unusable and I arranged to send it back for another unit, just in case it’s a problem with an out-of-tolerance component, dodgy internal connection, or whatever. By way of some kind of insurance against the retailer claiming I was wasting their time, I made and uploaded a YouTube video to show the problem. There’s an app on Google Play that’s great for demonstrating the fault: Multi-touch test. Fire up the app and drag your finger around and it shouldn’t flicker with lots of extra events as if you’ve momentarily lifted your finger off the screen.
In the process of making the video, I found the fix! Well, if you can call it that. Prior to videoing, I thought it would be nice if the screen looked clean and shiny so I gave it a once-over with some supermarket glasses wipes (isopropyl alcohol or similar) => smear-free screen. The problem disappeared. Completely. Then I added some more ‘natural skin oils’ over the screen again and, bingo, the problem’s right back. I should point out that my Nexus 7 (2012), iPhone, Nexus 4, Samsung Galaxy, etc. don’t have this problem, so it’s not that I’ve got alien sweat coming out of my pores or anything.
The rave reviews are explained thus: the journos the spec sheet, used the pad for an hour and hurriedly posted their copy up to their blog / editor / whatever. Then they stuck in their white earbuds, cranked Coldplay to the max, picked the fluff from their black turtleneck and jumped in the Mini to go to Starbucks surf on their iPad while enjoying a skinny latté – all to console themselves that they’d just given a very positive review for a non-Apple product. Probably.
All you need to do is:
- tear down your device and reseat cables and hope that might work (invalidating warranty in the process) and/or
- walk around with your device plugged into USB power and/or
- keep your screen surgically clean at all times
That’s all OK then.
I just got a call back from fnac.es to tell me that there’s “nothing wrong with my tablet” and I could a) get the same one back or b) get my money back. I naturally went for b) and will wait for a fixed version. And, by the way, thanks, fnac.es, for not taking me seriously at all. Presumably they didn’t try and reproduce the problem like I said nor check out my video. Some other poor unfortunate is probably going to get my unit shipped to them as ‘new’. I notice that fnac.es no longer has the device on special offer and is now selling it through a 3rd party – presumably they’ve quickly tired of all the returns ‘without fault’ (but all complaining of the same problem).
The electronics design is clearly marginal. The correct solution is that Asus and Google withdraw all Nexus 7 2013 stock while they rework the touch screen design. I’d really appreciate it if somebody from Asus or Google lets me know when they’ve fixed the problem (which is, believe us, a real problem).
Update 30 Oct 2013
I ordered another unit directly from Google Play (avoiding FNAC this time!). I’ve had it for a week now and it seems to be better than the last unit. So, if you are suffering the ghost touch problem, send your unit back – you don’t want to see it again. Then buy another – because if you don’t have touchscreen problems the 2013 Nexus 7 is a killer tablet. It’s in a totally different league to the fairly awful Kindle Fire HD that I bought about a year ago and a great improvement on the 1st generation Nexus 7 that we also have.