The Google Nexus 7 is the latest addition to the Nexus line up of products and is the first tablet by Google. It was a joint project with ASUS who designed the hardware who has fit an Nvidia quad-core Tegra 3 processor alongside a $200 price point which is a dream price point for those looking to buy their first tablet or even those looking to upgrade from the Kindle Fire. Last summer the Fire made waves at this price but it came to market with Amazon’s highly customized interface which left a lot of consumers wanting more.
The Nexus 7 with its decent hardware could be the perfect evolution for those who got their feet wet with Android on the Fire and are now ready for the full unadulterated Android Jelly Bean experience.
It’s no surprise that we focus on the price, but if we didn’t tell you that the 16GB version of this tablet was $250 know one would know that it was a ‘budget’ device. Once you hold it in your hands you’ll have trouble realizing that it is in fact so cheap. Of course it’s plastic, but the rubberized back alone make it feel like a high-end tablet, something along the same lines as the iPad or the Transformer Prime who both have a fancy aluminum backside.
The dimpled back is reminiscent of leather racing gloves from the 60s, the Nexus and ASUS branding on the back of the tablet is recessed and subtle yet elegantly pops. It looks good, it has a kind of timeless elegance about it. Even the box has a highend premium feel. If we take a look at the 7 inch tablet market, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 take the crown but then again, it is 3 times the price.
At the bottom on the back of the device we’ve got a speaker or a speaker slot which extends over half the width, and for a tablet it produces excellent sound. Directly below are all the connections: Micro USB and 3.5mm headset port, which is a pretty short list! Those who expected an HDMI output, are going to be disappointed, clearly it didn’t make the final design because of the aggressively low price point.
On the left side of the Nexus 7, you’ll see four little dots that are for a docking station, but since we’re still waiting on accessories. So there is your indication of bigger and better things to come for this device.
The tablet also has a silver boarder which actually makes us a little afraid of Apple, but we think it makes the tablet feel very sturdy. Design wise they’ve done a very good job at hiding the fact that it is not very thin tablet, in fact it is only 1mm thinner than the Fire. Adding to the illusion of thinness is the weight the Nexus 7 is only 340 grams which is 70 grams difference when looking at the Fire with its 415 grams.
Under the hood the Tegra 3 SoC offers 4 cores and a fifth companion core which runs at 1GHz and handles regular surfing a video playback, the other cores kick in and go up to 1.3Ghz when tasks like gaming or multitasking come into play.
Google Nexus 7 Specs
Measurements 198,5 mm high x 120 mm wide x 10,45 mm thick
OS Android OS 4.1 Jelly Bean
SoC 1.2 Ghz NVIDIA Tegra 3 T30L Quad-Core
Memory 1024MB RAM
Internal Memory 8GB v 16GB
External Memory Not extendable
Network Bluetooth 4.0, NaFC, WLAN 802.11 bgn
Display-Technology ASUS TruVivid IPS
Display-Resolution WXGA (= 1280×800 Pixel; 8:5)
Back Camera None
Front Camera 1,2-Megapixel (1280×960 Pixel)
Ports microUSB, 3,5mm headphone jack
The 1GB of RAM works well and the tablet comes with 8 & 16GB, but you’ll notice from the above specs that it does not have a micro SD card slot so you can’t expand the memory. The 16GB is $50 more expensive than the 8GB but it’s well worth the investment since you can’t add anything afterwards. There is also not 4G version so you’ll have to make due with WiFi, but for the price and most smartphones have hot spot functionality anyways. After that it’s got some nice additions with Bluetooth, NFC and GPS, which generally speaking, present a “complete package”.
Usually if a tablet is very cheap that means that they’ve sacrificed on the display, a few years ago Shenzhen tablets only had a touchscreen or you’d have to be happy with an LCD display which simply put aren’t as vibrant and bright. You can even save money with the resolution, so 800×480 and 1024×600 screens dominated the affordable 7-inch tablet domain, but this is not the case with the Nexus 7.
First, it has an IPS display with a brightness of 312, to compare the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is 492 and the iPad 3 scores 394, second we’ve got a resolution of 1280 × 800, with a PPI of 213 (the iPad has 3264 ppi).
In a nutshell, the display of the Nexus 7 is much better quality than the price would suggest. No, of course it cannot compete with the Super AMOLED display of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 or the display of the new iPad, which is in another league, but it is a very good display with excellent viewing angles!
Audio in quickly becoming a key feature in all types of gadgets but on a mobile device it’s becoming a deciding factor. We’ve seen some things behind closed doors that would blow you away and they are all just around the corner. Having said that the speakers on the Nexus 7 fill the room, the sound isn’t rich full and deep, but what are you expecting from a 7 inch tablet. What you do get is high volume, no distortion and just enough bass to make you question if it sound is indeed coming from the tablet. But for the audiophile among us, it is at the very low end and at the end of the day, if given the choice between the speakers and headphones, I would choose the headphones.
Performance & Benchmarks
Let’s dig into the meat of the review, if we’re going to justify spending twice as much money for an iPad or a Transformer we’re really going to have to scrutinize the Nexus 7. To be really tough we’re going to put it up against the Transformer Prime and Infinity which are also made by ASUS.
No one can dispute that these numbers are competitive and when we carry this forward to daily usage it boots up in half a minute, apps work very quickly, rendering web pages and even graphically rich content and big apps like Pulse or the new Google App Play Magazine run wonderfully and smoothly. If we put this head to head with the Prime I don’t see any difference expect for the display itself.
Google and ASUS have set a new benchmark! Despite the favorable price compared to most tablets you don’t have to make concessions to a high-end tablet!
Anyone who follows our blog knows that we are huge fans of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and consider it the best Android tablet. This has on to do with the workmanship and the sensational display and especially the battery life. Well I can squeeze 12 hours out of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and even if the Nexus 7 does not quite come up to standard of the noble tablet from Samsung, it is with almost 10 hours of battery life, one of the leading tablets.
There is no better way to find out about gaming performance then seeing it for yourself, in the below video you’ll see several of the latest and greatest. Even though the Nexus 7 has a NVIDIA Tegra SoC all the games we picked aren’t optimized for the processor, because let’s face it, not all the game we play are from the Tegra Zone. NOVA 3 is one of the titles that we picked and the performance wasn’t great, but we actually think that it was just a lousy port from Gameloft. Other games ran extremely smoothly and we cannot see any difference between the Transformer Prime and the Nexus 7.
If you don’t believe us check it out for yourself.
Jelly Bean aka Android 4.1 has landed on the Nexus 7. This is the first device, smartphone or tablet, that is equipped with the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system. Now we have published several videos and articles about Jelly Bean and expressed our enthusiasm for this version of Android. We’ve got a video for you below and even though it’s not on the Nexus 7 it gives you a very detailed run though of Google’s latest offering.
We’ve Jelly Bean on the Galaxy Nexus for about 4 weeks now and it’s pretty much something that I can’t live without. The Nexus had sat unused in a drawer for a few months now, but it’s totally been brought back to life thanks to Jelly Bean.
Before we go through the features, we’ve got to talk about Project butter which provides some amazing soft fluid animations. Google has added just a few more frames per second to each animation and the result is a dreamy smoothness, gone is the day of that jerkiness that sometimes plagued Android, now you’re guaranteed to be living in digital nirvana. It seems like such a simple feature to add, but anyone who has ever put a custom ROM on their handset is doing so because they are looking for this exact experience.
But getting back to the pre-installed software, the devices comes loaded with the complete Android experience without any effort. All the usual Google Apps are installed and that’s it, there is no bloat ware, no apps that you can’t uninstall, you get Vanilla Android. Those who like to modify Android to their exact personal preferences what you have is a blank canvas that is sleek and fast.
New Home Screen
Ok, Google really has not done much here except for the fact that it is easier to arrange icons and widgets. Imagine your old home screen, which is usually congested with neat folders and widgets. If you wanted to place another widget, it really was quite difficult to fit it on the screen, you’d have to let go of the widget and manually rearrange the screen to make room for it, then go back and grab it to place it. Now JB automatically arranges not only the already existing objects, but also reduces the new widget’s size if need be.
Google has integrated one of the best keyboard in JB and if you’re familiar with Swype and SwiftKey you’ll be able to tell just how much Google has been inspired. What we have here is an “intelligent” predictive text that of course suggests suitable words / phrases during writing. In the middle of the proposed line will appear the suggested word, which is right on the money most of the time
Google announced this feature at the beginning of June and it’s finally a reality. You’ll now be able to make entire maps available offline. If you’re a Nokia user this feature has been available for 3 years now, but combining it with Google Maps is really just an unbeatable combination. Personally, and maybe this is because I’m based in Asia, Google Maps is an app that “I cannot live without”.
Google Now & Voice Serach
Siri was on everybody’s lips last year and Google Now is not necessarily different, but the team from Mountain View, has not only managed to offer an improved experience over Siri with superior voice recognition, it also works offline.
Honestly, speech recognition isn’t new and with Siri after a week you’ve pretty much tested the limits of this software, so it gets kind of boring. But with Google Now everything is deciphered on the device itself Siri actually has to send the audio sample to the Apple server, the difference is vast as Google Now produces amazingly flawless results. We’ve tried dictating emails in Airplane Mode, which were then sent once the device was back online. It’s simple and effective.
Interacting with Google Now is simple, you just grab the home button and push it upward, the longer you use it the more it gets to know you, you’re answers are presented on cards which appear when you log into Google Now, so you can quickly see updates to common questions. If you connect your Google latitude you’ll be greeted with information like when the next train to the office departs, alternative routes like a bus or even how to get to other common destinations, for us, the Taipei Computer Market.
The number and variety of cards is meant to increase and currently offers weather, traffic, deadlines, trips, flights, public transport, places, and sporting events and scores, all of which update automatically. This is of course dependent on the frequency of search topics. Those who persist as to the LA Lakers or the flight status search queries for a particular route, is more likely to find that card. We’ve been trying hundreds of things. Who produced Promethues? – show me films of John Carpenter, call the W Hotel in Taipei (and this isn’t a number that’s stored on our handset), show me pictures of Taipei 101 at night, arithmetic problems, translations, when is the sunrise in Tokyo who is the President of Ukraine…we could go on for hours.
Summary of Software & Jelly Bean
Jelly Bean is of course not a revolution but is the sequel to Ice Cream Sandwich that we’ve all been waiting for. Android has received the correct fine tuning and in combination with Google Now we’ve got a powerful mobile OS. This new offering really makes you feel you really can do anything on the Nexus 7.
Nexus 7 in Comparison
We’ve had a dozen 7-inch tablets for quite a while and every once and a while, we like to take them out and marvel at the progress. Think back to the first Galaxy Tab, it cost almost $850 when it was launched in late 2010. The Nexus 7 does not have a UMTS module and can’t be upgraded via micro SD card, but it is 4 times as fast, has a much higher resolution, is thinner, lighter, and has above all a far better OS … all of this for a quarter of the price!
My favorite so the tablet that has taken our top spot is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, for which we spent nearly 650€ on, so this is just over 3 times as much as the Nexus 7! But what you get for the extra cash is a sensational Super AMOLED Plus display which is packaged into an extremely thin and sexy aluminum enclosure, it also has a UMTS module, and SD card slot and a rear facing camera. But when it comes to a price / performance ratio, we’ve gotta have to give it to the Nexus 7– even though the high end tablet that Samsung has brought to market is the clear winner, the Nexus 7 is our definite recommendation.
Back in September of 2011 Amazon made a pretty big statement with the Kindle Fire, for $199 its 7” frame came with a resolution of 1024 × 600, a 1.2Ghz Dual Core Soc, 8GB RAM, and a highly customized Android Gingerbread which brought its owner in to Amazon’s awesome ecosystem, but it’s still only for US customers. To be dead honest, right now, I would rather grab a $60 Shenzhen tablet then spend on something with a limited operating system.
The Nexus 7 tablet is a “game changer”. It is a product that is shaking up the market and giving its competitors a headache. The honest truth is that it feels like a tablet that costs twice as much. A great display coupled with a low price that offers really solid performance and best-ever Android OS, which puts it in a league of its own over shadowing the competition.