Books written by Ray Sullivan

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Nexus 7 - Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

I've just paid a flying visit to Ambleside, in the Lake District.  Regular readers will know that I rate this part of the country very highly and Ambleside in particular.  The occasion was a visit to Zefferelllis Jazz Bar to listen to a blues band and to take in a few strolls in the countryside.  As is my habit I popped my Nexus 7 in a side pocket and had a full day of strolling around Lake Windermere.  I've travelled many miles with the Nexus carried in this manner - it's one of the attractions of a pocket sized tablet is that it fits in a pocket.

Anyway, on the last leg of the day, heading back to Ambleside on a lake ferry, I pulled the Nexus out of my pocket to read an eBook and found the screen cracked in multiple places and the device unresponsive - it turned on but the touchscreen didn't work so I couldn't unlock the device.  Basically it's just showing my background photo and the PIN keyboard.  I've rotated the device through 360 and tried the keyboard on all four rotations - nothing doing.

Back in Ambleside I Googled the fault using my wife's iPad and it appears that it isn't that uncommon.  In fact, if you follow the message boards from product launch to today you'll find a couple of trends.  Initially the main problems appeared to be around light leakage from the body, put down to loose screws holding the back away from the front.  Then the screen cracking reports started appearing.  Now they seem to be the main complaint about the Nexus 7 and by all accounts I've been quite lucky getting nearly nine months out of mine.

Of course you've got to take the reports with a bit of caution - devices that haven't had a fault of any kind won't have generated the kind of report we're talking about, and the Nexus does appear to have been a fairly successful product.  So it's difficult to decide how big a problem this is.  However there are some common threads filtering through and one, worryingly, is that the screen is not covered by the warranty.  The other, and I've verified this through searches on Google and sites such as eBay, is that the screens are expensive to replace. In fact, to pay ASUS, the manufacturer of the Nexus, to repair it costs about the same as buying a new device according to many reports.  From instructions posted by techies it also looks to be quite a problematical task as well, which is possibly one reason why ASUS levies such a high labour charge.

I contacted the store I bought the Nexus from, PC World on-line.  I say contacted, I mean I listened to a series of menu choices and when I got to the bit that referred to ASUS products I received a phone number and a suggestion that I should really phone them.  Did I not hear them, put the bloody phone down, why don't you?

So I phoned ASAS.  Here's a thing - calls have to be between 0900 and 1700 and cost at least 5 pence a minute on a BT landline, an undefined amount on a mobile, no idea about over the employer's VOIP.  So an early stack and back at home I worked my way through another menu - eight choices to listen to and I still got it wrong.  For anyone going through this, choose the EEE option, which I think is option 2.  There I spoke to a polite man who explained how it works.  First you need to find the serial number on the Nexus - I'm still looking.  It's on the transparent sticker at the bottom of the device on the back and the writing is both miniscule and virtually as transparent as the sticker.

I explained the situation and he said that if it was assessed to be user damage my warranty wouldn't cover the repair, but if it wasn't my fault, it would.  That sounds reasonable, so I asked for what to do next, apart from using a scanning electron microscope to read the serial number.  Well, it seems you log onto the ASUS repair web page, apparently and fill in a form.  After a few days you receive instructions on how to courier the device to their authorised repairers who will make an assessment on who is to blame.  By the way, this isn't a conversation, let alone a debate.  They decide and that's that.  If they determine that it is a warranty repair you'll get your device back and working within a month or so.  If it isn't a warranty repair then you can have it repaired - cost currently unknown apart from rumours on the web, but expected to be about the cost of a new device, or you can have the damaged item back.  However if you take the damaged item back you do have to pay for the courier and the labour charges which are estimated to be about £50.  And you agree to this as soon as you fill in that form and start the ball rolling, so you may find yourself having to choose to pay the price of a new Nexus to get a repaired Nexus, or a third of the price of a new Nexus to get an inoperative model back.

I did speak to my household insurance and they're quite happy to cover this item for accidental damage, even when I told them that I didn't believe I'd damaged it.  But I do have a £150 excess on accidental damage claims, so it hardly seems worth it as that's the price of q new Nexus 7.

Whatever happens over the Nexus I'm certain that I'll be without it for a while - the repairs seem to take weeks according to many reports, and I'll likely only be doing that if it's agreed that it is a warranty repair.  In the meantime I've picked up a Microsoft Surface RT with a tactile keyboard so that will be my go-to tablet from now on.  It's day three and I'm still getting to grips with the new Windows methodology, but it's clearly a versatile machine  A first impressions report in tomorrow's blog.


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