Nexus 9 review

Google's Nexus tablet is bigger in size and price

Nexus 9 review
A great tablet, but not the cheap Nexus we're used to

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The Nexus 9, despite my screen quality criticisms, plays movies just fine. In fact, the Play Movies app is already sporting the new Material Design. It provides simple movie recommendations and seamlessly links right to the Play Store's Movies & TV section. The red-and-white colour scheme pops nicely and matches the unified look of other Android Lollipop apps.

Nexus 9 review

Testing out Netflix on the Nexus 9

Streaming Django Unchained, currently the most popular selection on Netflix, proved that the Nexus 9 has more than adequate brightness levels and a solid contrast ratio. However, the 2.35:1 aspect ratio in which this movie was shot doesn't convert well to the 4:3 display.

Nexus 9 review

The ultra-wide aspect ratio of movies like this don't help the 4:3 design

Like on the similarly shaped iPad, app developers are making the best of it. For example, on Netflix, the movie title, Chromecast cast button and volume controls appear along the top to take up that large black void. Scrubbing through the timeline and the 30 second rewind button line the bottom. Don't worry, all of the controls fade away if the screen isn't touched for five seconds.

Games are a mixed bag. Some stretch to meet the new full-screen standard and it shows. Other games have been made with the new aspect ratio. The more that Nexus 9 finds its way into mobile gamers' hands, the more that game apps are likely to adapt to the 4:3 high-resolution screen size. It's just now becoming prevalent among tablets.

Nexus 9 review

On-screen controls sometimes hide the black void thanks to clever apps

Google Music goes all-orange, but features a similar unified design that can be seen on the app and all-you-can-eat music streaming website. Fun categories like "Boosting Your Energy" and "Having Fun at Work" line the top of the main page, and recent activity and recommendations take into account your past listening habits.

Nexus 9

Music, movies and games sound good through these speakers

Movies, music and games sound better than they look thanks to the BoomSound speakers. That was a major problem I had with the Nexus 7 and similar tablets that placed the speakers in the wrong direction - usually at the bottom of the device. You won't have to plug in external speakers in a normal movie-watching environment.

Reading through longer text via the Play Newsstand app receives the biggest positive change on the Nexus 9. That 4:3 aspect ratio allows for more reading and less scrolling. Plus, there's the ability to translate periodicals instantly, something that I find interesting in the Chrome browser and expect to make use of in Newsstand.

Matt Swider