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AndroidPIT’s Hands On Review Of The Google Nexus 7 Tablet

Eric McBride
10

 

I’m personally not a huge fan of 7 inch tablets, but I can imagine that a lot of people are, and with good reason. 7 inch tablets are easy to throw in a bag or purse, are great for reading, and simply more portable in general. The Google Nexus 7 arrived on my desk today, and after spending some time with the device, there certainly is a lot to like about this very fast (and smooth) running tablet. Best tablet for the money? Let’s find out in our Nexus 7 review!

Specs:

-198 x 120 x 10.45mm
-11.99 oz (340 g)
-7 inch 1280x800 HD display (IPS 216 ppi) with scratch resistant corning glass
-4235 mAh battery
-MicroUSB
-Quad core Tegra 3 processor
-8 or 16GB internal storage models
-1GB RAM
-Android Jelly Bean out of the box
-NFC
-Microphone
-GPS
-Magnetometer
-Gyroscope

 

Design:

The Nexus 7 feels good in the hand, and although the rubber-ish coating on the back felt significantly different than the back of my Transformer Prime, the secure grip is something that grows on you. It doesn't feel premium, but also doesn't feel cheap. The tablet is 10.45mm thick, in comparison to the 8.3mm thickness of the Transformer Prime, and felt bulkier than what I expected it would. Nevertheless, it still feels like a relatively solid device. The power and volume rocker are located on the right side towards the top, and the headphone jack and mini USB are both on the bottom. There’s no microSD slot, meaning you have no chance of expanding the memory, which is kind of a bummer if you're a media junkie like me (I have 15GB in games alone). I had no issues holding the tablet in one hand, and am overall pretty pleased with the build quality of this low priced device.

Display:

The IPS LCD display (1280x800) quality is good, but not breathtaking. While browsing the internet with the brightness all the way up, the display did a very good job and the colors were definitely on point. But when we popped back out to the homescreen, we noticed that black/dark colors in general were relatively grainy, and that the icons weren’t as sharp as what we have seen on other tablets. That being said, for a 199 dollar tablet, the screen is generally very good. When watching Youtube videos, I was actually impressed with the video quality, so don’t let the screen be a make or break factor when considering this tablet. It’s not perfect, but is by no means a bad display.

Performance:

Here is what really blew my mind: This thing is fast....I mean like...really fast. The Tegra 3 processor in this device really gets the job done, and when you combine that power with the buttery goodness of Android Jelly Bean, I can honestly say that it’s probably the fastest and smoothest STOCK Android device I’ve ever used (rooted ICS tablets with running custom scripts/ROMS can still match/beat it in terms of speed). Good luck finding lag on this tablet. Even with quite a few widgets on the homescreens, and after testing high performance games, there was virtually very very very little to most of the time no lag at all. In terms of performance, you can’t go wrong with this device. But do keep in mind that this performance is due to a combination of hardware & software, as Jelly Bean performs just as quickly on my Galaxy Nexus as it does on the Nexus 7.

The Nexus 7 didn't impress that much in benchmarks, and was even outperformed by my dual core Galaxy Nexus in Quadrant, and took a serious beating from my Tegra 3 packing Transformer Prime (which is odd, considering the Nexus 7 is also using Tegra 3). That being said, don't judge how fast the Nexus 7 is from its benchmark scores, as they mean very little 90% of the time. 

Camera:

Google and Asus wanted to keep the tabled priced as low as possible, and that naturally required sacrifices. One of those sacrifices was the camera, or lack of one. There is no back camera on the Nexus 7, but there is a front facing cam for video calling. If being able to take pictures on your tablet is important to you, this might not be the tablet you need. 

Software:

I know you’ve heard this sentence used with other versions of Android, but I can confidently confirm that Jelly Bean is the best version of Android ever created. One thing that does kind of bother me is that the Nexus 7 is a tablet (duh), yet it’s running a phone UI. This at times makes me feel like I’m using an oversized phone, vs a smaller sized tablet.

I would have loved to seen a tablet interface on the Nexus 7, but that’s just how I personally feel about it. But don’t let the user interface turn you off. This tablet has more than enough positives to make up for the few negatives: Buttery smooth UI, notification bar has been revamped, revamped animations, super fast screen swiping/scrolling, and stock Android in all its glory. No skins, no bloat. Pure Google = pure speed.

Conclusion:

When you look at the Nexus as a whole, and take the hardware, the software, and the price of this tablet into account, it is very safe to say that it is the best tablet on the market in this price range. Period. For this price, you will NOT find a faster/smoother tablet with such amazing hardware. Game titles like NOVA 3? No problem on the Nexus 7. Console emulators? Not an issue.

If I had to name any negatives for the Nexus 7, they would be the lack of a microSd card (biggest peeve), lack of a camera (not a big deal for me), the mediocre display (which I still find good), and the phone UI (when I root it, hopefully tablet mode can be unlocked). But what do you expect for $199.99? If you want a tablet for high end gaming, reading, watching films, watching movies, or just for surfing the net, you will not find a better tablet than the Nexus 7 at this price point.

Jelly Bean + pure/stock Android + Tegra 3 = WIN.

So what do you guys think of the Nexus 7? Is this the tablet for you, or would you prefer the upcoming (not yet confirmed 100%) 10 inch model? Or is there another tablet you have your eye on?

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Comments

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  • Tyler Aug 1, 2012 Link

    Ordered mine early Monday. UPS is delivering it today. I CAN'T WAIT!!!

    I've got the Nexus Root Toolkit just waiting to root and unlock it.

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  • Eric McBride Aug 1, 2012 Link

    I will do a video in the next day or 2 on rooting it. Can't wait to root this mutha!

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  • Tyler Aug 1, 2012 Link

    Just opened the box and played around with it.

    My only disappointment is that it's UI is based on a phone. I love JB for my Xoom. I know soon enough though there will be ROMs that will give the Nexus 7 a true tablet experience.

    I went with the 8gb version as I'm not huge on keeping too many apps and since it doesn't have a rear camera to take pictures I'm not worried about pics taking up the available space. Movies/music will come and go. I would have sprung for the extra $50 if I was sure I was going to keep it for myself but I may end up passing it off to my daughter in November for her birthday. If I don't give the 7 to her I'm going to give her my Xoom instead while waiting for the Nexus 10.

    Either way though with the right mods and an OTG cable, I will have all the extra storage I'll need.

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  • Eric McBride Aug 1, 2012 Link

    The phone UI bothered me too. Alot actually (although I didn't reflect that disappointment as much as I could have when I mentioned it in the article).

    Are you satisfied in general so far, or to early to tell?

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  • Tyler Aug 1, 2012 Link

    I'm playing my first game and true test right now. Order & Chaos plays good on my Bionic, OK on my Xoom, and FANTASTIC on the N7.

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  • chinu Aug 2, 2012 Link

    there should had been a microsd slot along with a cam of atleast 2.0.or 3.1 MP.....
    providing such q cam with $199 would not had been a big deal......


    otherwise seems good

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  • Stan Jez Aug 2, 2012 Link

    I now have 3 android devices. A Samsung Galaxy S (will probably upgrade to s3 when contact runs out) , an Iconia 501 ( love the full size usb on this) and now the Nexus 7.
    When I first started it it immediately upgraded to the latest firmware. I find the size just right for reading ebooks, web browsing, and catching up with forums such as this. It feels nice to hold, great to use when sitting on a couch or lying in bed. It is pretty smooth to use. For a tablet that costs about$300 in Australia I can't say that I'm disappointed other than option for external memory would have been good. I don't know if these are locked when you buy them in the US but here they are ready to go. I figure, if you want a mid size tablet for easy portability for the price you can't go wrong, not withstanding some of the disadvantages listed by others.

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  • Eric McBride Aug 2, 2012 Link

    Exactly how I feel about it too Stan. For the price, you can't beat it. And its advantages certainly outweigh the disadvantages on the whole.

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  • Tyler Aug 2, 2012 Link

    So far so good with the N7. Movies look great on it, games play smoothly, it's snappy, and all of the above mentioned niceties. Unlocking and rooting was a breeze. Now I just have to find a nice tablet UI JB based ROM.

    I never thought I would like the 7" tablet this much. Taking the big 10" Xoom out in public always felt a bit awkward. I love how the N7 fits in my pocket.

    Quick edit: Found a super easy way go get the tablet UI back.

    http://www.xda-developers.com/android/full-tablet-ui-on-the-google-nexus-7/
    I used JRummy's Root Browser for the editing of the build prop.

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  • Tyler Aug 2, 2012 Link

    Loving the tablet UI. I know Google wanted to have a simpler UI for the masses but tablet is the way to go. I haven't personally noticed any issues with changed the LCD Density tablet method.

    On another note...StickMount by dev ChainFire from the Play store works great with an OTG cable and a USB drive. You just need to be rooted.

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