The Bottom Line
Aug 1 2012 - Google may have set out to change the tablet market with the Android operating system but it is their partnership with ASUS and the Nexus 7 that is likely to change it more than the OS. Priced at $249 for the 16GB version, this is one of the best low cost tablets to come out on the market. Performance is on par with many larger 10-inch tablets and so is the battery life which is incredible in a seven inch frame. The display outshines all other tablets in this size range and the build quality is actually quite good. If there is any real downside, it has to be the limited storage which can get problematic for those looking to carry a lot of locally stored digital media. The lack of a rear facing camera may also turn off some but tablets have generally not been well regarded for use as a camera.
- Excellent High Resolution Display
- Good Performance
- Great Battery Life For Smaller Tablet
- Limited Storage Options
- No Rear Facing Camera
- 1.3 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (Cortex-A9) Quad Core Processor
- 1GB Memory
- 16GB Storage
- 7" WXGA (1280x800) Mulitouch Display
- 1.3 Megapixel Front Camera
- NVIDIA Tegra 3 Graphics
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- MicroUSB, 3.5mm Audio
- 7.8" x 4.7" x .41" @ .75 lbs.
- Android 4.1
Review - Google Nexus 7
Aug 1 2012 - Google is not really a hardware manufacturer but a software company. This hasn't stopped them from selling branded mobile phones in the past. Now with the tablet market, they have tapped into the manufacturing expertise of ASUS to produce their own branded seven inch tablet, the Nexus 7. The tablet itself share very similar dimensions to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 being just slightly taller and a bit narrower. It is very lightweight thanks to its primarily plastic design at just three quarters of a pound. Even though it does use plastics, the rear cover has a rubberized texture applied to it that makes it easy to grip and more resilient to scratches. It also has a very solid feel and excellent build quality for its price point.
NVIDIA had hinted that their quad core Tegra 3 would be available in a tablet priced under $200 sometime this summer and the Google Nexus 7 is the first to achieve this with its 8GB version. The processor gives it a major performance advantage for a seven inch tablet thanks to the extra cores that really speed up multitasking and the faster 1.3 GHz speed which is higher than the 1GHz speed for the majority of the tablets. The processor also has a fifth low power core to help converse power when the tablet is doing minor tasks or idle. This is NVIDIA's form of variable processing which is like to become much more common in future tablet processors.
Storage is probably one of the biggest issues with the Nexus 7. It is only offered in two versions, the 8GB or 16GB models. Of these, the 16GB is the preferred even though it carries a $50 price premium. Why is this? Because the tablet lacks any additional storage options either through a microSD card slot or via external storage through the micro USB port. The result is that you can only store as much as the limited internal storage provides. 8GB does not allow for much more than one or two high definition movies before it starts running out of space.
The big feature on the Nexus 7 is the screen. It is measures just seven inches but packs in a native resolution of 1280x800. This is only the second tablet after the Toshiba Thrive 7 to come equipped with this resolution. This gives it a very crisp text and images but it still falls short of what the Apple New iPad can achieve with its retina display but it is also a larger screen. If there is one drawback to this screen size is that it can be difficult to be accurate with the touch interface at the sharp resolutions. It also features IPS technology that gives it some excellent color and viewing angles. The brightness is also quite good to allow for outdoor use that isn't washed out from the glossy display. The only real downside to the display is that there is no way to hook up the tablet to an external display at all.
One of the big cost and size savings used in the Nexus 7 has to do with the cameras. It does feature a nice 1.3 megapixel resolution front camera for use with chat applications which is something more than the Amazon Kindle Fire or Barnes and Noble NOOK have but it lacks a rear facing camera. This puts it at a disadvantage compare to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 and the Toshiba Thrive 7. Something to consider if you happen to want your tablet to double as a camera.
The Nexus 7 also gets the latest revision of the Android 4.1 operating system that was codenamed Jelly Bean. This isn't a major revision of the operating system like 4.0 but more an improvement in a number of areas to make the experience smoother. It is indeed much more responsive than past revision of the operating system but it seems a bit slower to launch when the device is powered on from being completely off.
For the battery, the Google Nexus 7 comes with a slight larger 16WHr or 4325mAH capacity rating. With the new variable processing of the Tegra 3, it appears that it has an advantage when it comes to overall running times. In my video playback tests, the Nexus 7 was able to run for nine and a half hours. This is a surprisingly long running time for a seven in tablet and blows away much of the competition by several hours. In fact, this running time even surpasses some of the 10-inch tablets on the market that come equipped with larger batteries but less power efficient components.