Google Nexus 7 – would you use one for DJing?



Yesterday, Google confirmed what had more or less been announced a couple of days earlier – the launch of their own (well made by Asus) 7″ Android tablet. Called Nexus 7, it appears to be quite a tidy if small piece of gear. But will this be the one to finally get Andorid on the map as a player in the DJ and audio sectors?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMQdfGFK5XQ
On paper, this is a decent spec – a hi res 1280×800 screen, quad core Tegra 3 processor, WiFi, Bluetooth and micro-USB connectivity adds up to a solid package. At 7″, it’s a tad short on screen real estate for me, as is the 8Gb and 16Gb configurations. But the price ($249/£199 for the larger 16Gb) is immensely compelling over an iPad. There is also the issue of split output.

I’m becoming more convinced of the usefulness of tablets in DJing. At first, I predicted that tablets would revolutionise DJing, but it seems that mainstream DJ adoption is slow. And indeed, my own experience has been somewhat less than overwhelming. Coming from a background where a DJ setup fits in a van, scaling the whole experience down into my old school headspace is hard. But I do see tablets being used as accessories – see Denon’s new Engine softwarewith iPad connectivity for the library. But also fitting in just as laptops did – not as the main controller, but as the brain.

This however has its own issues. As witnessed with Numark‘s upcoming iDJ Pro, the iPad is designed to fit right into the unit. Now if Apple decide (as they do) to change sizes, connections etc, then the current carefully designed unit is confined to last year’s scrap heap. Now add something like the Nexus 7 into the mix, or the recently announced Windows Surface tablets, and you’ll end up with a nightmarish scenario of multiple controllers, each of which has the chance to be obsolete on a year by year basis.

So it’s easy to see why tablets haven’t set the DJ world on fire just yet. Apple seem to have nailed iOS as a proper platform for audio and video use (bar the lack of proper output). But from my initial digging around in Google Play and the internet in general, Android still seems to be a bit of a mess from an audio perspective, but there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Latency has been a massive problem, but the all new 4.1 release has latency down from 100ms to a much more respectable 12ms.

So does this new Google Nexus 7 look like a winner? Are you Apple haters more inclined to spend around one third the price of an iPad to dip your toe in the tablet scene? Will this new performance and price kickstart Android as a valid DJ and audio platform?

  • https://www.google.com/profiles/101315002926990446824 Trent Warren

    I can’t see this really stepping into DJing like the iPad. Correct me if I am wrong, but have you actually SEEN anyone DJing [skillfully, not trainwreck amateur-style] with an Android device? You’re on point with the fears regarding hardware fragmentation, but I am one of those DJs that sticks with a good thing until something insanely better comes along. The iDJ Pro is cheap enough that it isn’t going to hurt me to buy one while keeping my usual mobile/club rig. I plan to use it as a home studio/mixtape rig. If djay/vjay are tight enough to actually rock a crowd reliably in that system [handling output, stable airplay connectivity, cataloging requests], I might consider using it during paid gigs.

    But I would NEVER consider doing that with Android. I have never owned an Android device that was stable enough for me to trust it for anything where money was critical.

  • http://www.nem0nic.com nem0nic

    The problem with Android is the fact that the APIs used to handle audio and MIDI are not in any way optimized for low latency real-time performance (even though ALSA is technically capable of low latency operation). Otherwise there isn’t any reason why a device like this couldn’t work well as a controller or audio source. I think it’s only a matter of time before we see Android devices with the same kind of audio handling that “iDevices” already have, but for now it’s not a reality.

  • https://www.google.com/profiles/115528987305679234385 James Wilson

    I ‘d have to say pass as well. The windows surface tablets will be out soon enough and one of them runs a full fledged OS. I’m sure more windows 8 tablets from the usual manufacturers will follow after that. So I’d rather shoot for the future where tablets could truly be the center of a DJ rig and possibly replace laptops, or at least coexist with them. Of course it might be a few years before you’ll be accurately running your dj software of choice on one but still, why try and work around the shortcomings of a “post pc device” when you don’t have to.
    Maybe I’m just mad that my ipad still doesn’t run OSX.

  • bbpmdj

    One word… PaceMaker… The new App for BlackBerry PlayBook… Released on June 14th. Since you won’t report on it!

    • http://www.djworx.com Mark Settle

      Seeing as DJWORX covers all DJ gear, I’ll write a story just for you.

  • https://www.google.com/profiles/102464862545895828316 Serjoka

    The main issue with these devices is the audio output. I’ve been using iPad for live performance as a “add on” to my set. Or as a controller with Touch OSC (simply great). But never as a standalone dj surface.

  • http://djvaritech.net Gavin Varitech

    Probably not, there is no Traktor for Android. But I do plan on eventually ditching the laptop for a Windows 8 tablet some day. Once they have the CPU power, memory, and storage I need.

    I am however buying a Nexus 7 for personal use very soon!

  • djeezzy

    I say meh to this. I mean you can spend $50 more and get an ipad 2 and have a whole lot more options to choose from as far as apps and software go. I think this is a bit too little too late. I mean there is alway room for growth but i think a 7 inch screen isn’t really going to lend itself to being very useful.

  • sinjintek

    very cool. i had heard Asus was planning a 7″ quadcore tablet for $250… but i didn’t expect it would be dubbed the new Google Nexus device. Unfortunately my wild dreams of Win8 on a Tegra3 were recently blown out of the water my Microsoft.. instead we get a scaled down version, and i’m not entirely sold it had to be that way… and i’m not certain if either Android or WinRT will support any decent DJ apps, but only time will tell.

    in the meantime, i’m going to tell my roommate about this.. he’s been wanting a tablet since i convinced him to get his girl an Asus Transformer. He’s not an Apple hater, but he’s not really a fan either.

  • http://www.dvsdjtv.com k_sea

    The Nexus 7 is amazing but I don’t plan to use it for DJing anytime soon. Buying tunes on line and managing music across devices? yeah TOTALLY! It’s the perfect size tablet for playing online and it’s dope if you use google play / music as it syncs your playlists in the cloud across multiple devices (up to 20,000 songs)

  • http://www.facebook.com/neilsmithmusic Neil Smith

    Total fail on all tablets. I’m a professional DJ and no tablets will hold a professional-sized library. I would love to have 3 tablets and go video dj. 1 for the left table, 1 for the right table and one to be the controller in the middle with my library stored on an external hard drive due to the lack of capacity of these devices. If you are streaming your music from the internet, you’re a fool. The second the connection drops, your gig is over and you aren’t getting paid! And if your gig is out in the sticks where no connection exists (many weddings are and that’s what I do), you are done before you started. Sadly, it doesn’t seem the technology has caught up to my wish list yet. I’ll be keeping an eye on Microsoft though. Android is too fragmented and Apple is too expensive and controlling. Hoping Bill Gates’ crew will pull through sometime this year.

    • luminoth

      The nexus 7 has otg support. I’ve been able to hook a mouse an keyboard and an external hard drive to my nexus 7. All at the same time and they all work straight away. You can even boot Ubuntu on to them. So I don’t see how most tablets are different from a laptop.