Android tablets with large screens are mostly though to be no-compromise consumption devices. These are the computers that replaced inexpensive netbooks as a buying option for a lot of folks, especially with the volume of streaming video apps and games in the Google Play Store today. Google released the Nexus 9 to act as a sort of blueprint for large format devices, showing how quality front facing speakers and a high resolution display can make all the difference in the world. You can also use the Nexus 9 as a productivity device by sliding the magnetic keyboard folio into place and typing away on the mini keyboard.
Dell has approached things a little differently. The keyboard for this tablet is the star of the show, offering a quality typing and navigation experience without needing to worry about another battery or toggling a Bluetooth connection. Should you decide to play a game or something, the keyboard detaches and you've got an entertainment device with decent front facing speakers.
Here's a quick look at these machines side by side.
In keeping with the experiences found in the Dell Venue 8 7000 Series, this 10.5-inch model offers a clean interface that works hard to keep any custom software out of your way. Sitting next to a Nexus 9, the user interface is nearly identical. Aside from Dell's depth camera software and some manipulation to make the keyboard function in a more natural fashion, these two devices have a lot in common. This continues into the image quality, as Dell's 287ppi 10.5-inch display and Google's 281ppi 8.9-inch displays both look fantastic, not to mention bright enough to comfortably use outside most of the time.
When you look beyond the display and user interface, things couldn't be more different. HTC's offering is almost chubby when next to every part of the Dell tablet, save of course for the cylindrical base of the device. Both tablets offer front-facing speakers, but HTC's are positioned at the center of the short sides of the rectangle while Dell's speakers are at opposing sides of the cylinder. Dell's design means the weight of the device isn't remotely balanced, which means you almost always hold it by the cylinder, while the Nexus 9 can be held however you choose and is just about always the same. HTC's design is more comfortable to hold in landscape, but Dell's design is the best portrait tablet experience you could ask for.
You couldn't ask for a better Android keyboard than the one Dell has provided here. The powered hinge makes it so you never have to worry about charging the keyboard, there are Android buttons for home, back, launcher, and search that dramatically reduce the number of times you have to reach out and poke the screen, and the trackpad is downright useful when browsing the web. The keyboard pairs instantly when the tablet docks inside, and the spacing of the keys make it actually comfortable to type on.
The Nexus Keyboard is none of these things. It's tedious to maintain, the keys are cramped, and the Bluetooth connection needs to be manually set. The Nexus Keyboard is what you reach for when you're desperate and need to type something out. The Dell keyboard is what you reach for when you've made the conscious decision to replace your laptop and are planning to type for several hours.
After using both for several days, it's clear the only reasons you'd choose the Nexus 9 over the Dell 10 would be a desire for rapid updates and zero interest in ever connecting a keyboard to your tablet. Dell has demonstrated something of a lag in offering updates to the most recent version of Android, which is a little confusing when you consider how close to Nexus-style Android the device is on the surface. If there's a performance difference between these machines, you won't find it by using them side by side. Both of these devices are great to use, but Dell's hardware here opens the doors to an entirely new kind of Android experience, where the Nexus 9 is really only great for playing games and watching video on a larger screen.