Google Nexus 7 Review

The Google Nexus 7 is an Asus-made tablet that hopes to shake up the tablet industry by offering a price to performance ratio that’s never been achieved before, coupled with the very latest version of the Android operating system. Let’s have a look at whether this tablet achieves its aim or whether too many corners were cut to reach that $200 price point.

Features

  • Thin, light and portable
  • Stunning 7″ display
  • Less charging, more doing
  • Designed with gaming in mind
  • Quad-core performance
  • The world’s most popular platform
  • Made for Google Play
  • 600,000 apps and games

Specifications

  • OS: Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean”
  • CPU: Quad-core Tegra 3 1.3 GHz
  • Display: 7″ IPS at 1280 x 800
  • RAM: 1 GB DDR3
  • Storage: 16 GB
  • A/V chat: 1.2 MP front camera, microphone
  • Connectivity: Wireless b/g/n, Bluetooth, NFC
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, GPS, magnetometer, gyroscope
  • Battery: 4325 mAh
  • Size: 198.5 x 120 x 10.45 mm
  • Weight: 340 grams

Physical Features

The Nexus 7 looks similar to other tablets from the front, with the display dominating proceedings and a surprisingly thin bevel around it. This is flanked by a silver ring, somewhat similar to that of the iPhone 3G. There’s a single blemish above the screen in the center - the front facing camera. The 7″ display runs at an impressive 1280 x 800 resolution. As it’s an IPS display, viewing angles are excellent although colours are not the most accurate.

On the back, there’s a much more unique design. The back of the tablet is covered with an easy to grip rubber material with a dimpled pattern in a matt black impressed with the Nexus logo. Near the bottom of the tablet is a slit for the speaker grille, above which is a small Asus logo.

There are relatively few ports and buttons in play on the Nexus 7. There is a lock button and volume rocker on the upper right hand side, a micro USB and headphone jack at the bottom and pogo pins on the lower left. There is no rear-facing camera or HDMI output port.

The tablet is 10.45 mm and weighs 340 g, making it comfortable to hold onto and noticeably more massive than the flagship thin-and-light tablets made by Toshiba and Samsung.

Performance

In terms of raw benchmarks, the Nexus 7 is very powerful. I examined it using Quadrant, Linpack, GLBenchmark, Vellamo, BrowserMark and SunSpider. The Nexus 7 and its combination of a quad-core Tegra 3 chipset and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean meant that it surpassed most of its rivals, never losing a benchmark to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 or the Kindle Fire. It was beaten in each by the Galaxy S III, but was very similar to the HTC One X, HTC One S and Transformer Prime - it beat the Transformer Prime in CPU and browsing benchmarks and the HTC One X and One S in graphical benchmarks. As a reminder, these devices cost from $469 (HTC One S) and $629 (Galaxy S III) and the Nexus 7 costs just $199, making this quite an economical powerhouse.

In real life, the results of the benchmarks are apparent. This is a seriously quick machine, which the Jelly Bean operating system making for a very slick package. As a media tablet it’s excellent, with a great display for watching 720p HD films and excellent intergration with Google’s streaming solutions, as well as compatibility with all of the other major players like Netflix. For gaming it’s also divine, supporting the dozen or so excellent Tegra 3 only titles as well as many of my favourites on the app store. Each played at full settings without lag or low framerates. The tablet also supports USB OTG for controllers, making it possible to play a game like Dead Trigger with console level graphisc with an actual PS3 controller - perfect.

Accessories

Google Nexus 7 cases are among the most popular accessories available. For a thin and light solution, FlexiShield Wave cases are recommended as they are inexpensive, come in multiple colours and provide good protection from scratches and bumps. Integrated stands can be found in different cases, like SD TabletWear’s lines.

There are other accessories available too. The Case-Compatible Sync and Charge Cradle is perhaps the best Google Nexus 7 Dock on the market, with a sleek design that serves as a desk stand and charger, while still allowing cases to be used.

Conclusion

The Nexus 7 redefines what is possible with a $200 tablet. It is ridiculously more powerful than the first $200 tablet, the Kindle Fire, which sports an old and slow dual core processor, the heavily outdated Android 2.3 operating system and a much smaller app market. It’s a tablet for those that aren’t sure about a tablet, that exists in a convenient 7″ space that makes you never want to use your phone to watch movies or play games ever again but can still fit in your back pocket. I highly recommend the Nexus 7.

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William Judd has written 50 articles on this blog.

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