Hands on: Google Nexus 7 review
Google has unveiled its Nexus 7, its first foray into tablet, and also the world’s first Android 4.1 Jelly Bean device.
Like other Nexus releases, such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Google simply takes over the branding of another manufacturer’s phone or tablet, to ensure that people know this is an officially endorsed device. In this case, it’s Asus that’s got the nod from Google.
The Nexus 7 is a 7-inch tablet, running a quad-core Tegra 3 chip, which is world first #1. Never before has such a small tablet enjoyed quad-core power, and from our extensive hands-on time, it really pays off.
The Nexus 7 comes in two flavours, 8GB, which will cost £159 and be sold exclusively by Google on the Play store. There’s a mainstream 16GB version too, which will be in shops and online, with distribution managed by Asus.
For tablet watchers and geeks like us, the Nexus 7 was closely inspired by the previously announced MeMo 370, which was unveiled by Nvidia at CES 2012. The device subsequently disappeared, despite being lauded by critics, so its no surprise to see a budget quad-core tablet here.
Unfortunately, there won’t be a higher capacity model, and there’s no microSD slot for expansion. An Asus spokesman pointed out that Google Play’s array of content streamed from the cloud, meaning that high capacity wasn’t necessary, but if that’s not how you intend to use your device, this could be a problem.
There’s also no 3G option, which is unusual for a 7-inch tablet, so if you want wireless data, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 may be more suited to your needs.
Content from Google Play is very much the focus of the Nexus, and the home screen defaults to a library of your downloaded books and rented videos. This is customizable, but Google wants you to use its store. To optimize the reading experience, there’s a textured back, which feels like leather-bound book, to make it easier to hold while reading.
Media also looks great on the 1280 x 800 IPS screen, which is extremely high resolution for its meagre size.
It weighs just 340g, making it lighter than the Amazon Kindle Fire (413g), and Asus was keen to point out the numerous differences. It’s thinner, lighter, much more powerful and costs less than its popular rival.
Of course, the star of the show for the Nexus 7 is Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and leads us onto world first #2. If the uptake of Ice Cream Sandwich is anything to go by, this could be the only Jelly Bean device for the foreseeable future.
Improvements are minor, but include an overhauled notifications bar at the top, and a stated 23x improvement in graphics performance in the operating system. This means all animations and menus are buttery smooth, and it’s certainly noticeable while using the Nexus 7.
Asus has also done clever things with the screen. The ‘One Glass Solution’ means there’s less space taken up by the display, meaning more room for battery cells. Asus states that you can get 9 hours of video playback, which we’ll be putting to the test in our forthcoming review.
The Nexus 7 tablet is a fantastic device that offers top-notch usability and performance at staggering value. A lot of effort has gone into the Nexus 7, and Nvidia has had to ramp up production of its Tegra chips to keep cost down, and will be relying on good sales to make back its investment. At such a low-price the Nexus 7 has every chance of being a hit this Christmas, and could be the first tablet to make a splash in the 7-inch market.
Pre-orders start from now, with general availability on July 27.
on Thursday, June 28th, 2012 at 1:20 pm under Tablets.
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Tags: Android, Asus, Google, iPad, kindle fire, Tablets