Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review
Date: July 2012
Price: £159 8GB/£199/16GB inc VAT (at time of writing)
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I am very pleased with the Google Nexus 7 Tablet, I have been a droid user for a few years but so far have been put off by an eBook reader as either overpriced or not enough multi uses to justify the price. Larger tablets did appeal especially for full HDMI and SD reader, changing the battery if needed but for those you are looking to spend over £100+ more.
As it stands the specification for the price point is exceptional, sure this will be eclipsed soon by newer tablets and if the iPad mini which is rumoured, but that will likely be close to another $100+, yes you will get more Apps but you will be more tied in. However the smaller size should appeal to the less rich fan boys :p and for those who would maybe like a Kindle size device but with some more features.
A newer release of the Amazon Fire is also expected in the coming months so this should up Amazons game, they are the kings of content and undercutting, but their current hardware is around a year old. Also they do use Android but it is a tied down version and a different ‘market app’ there are ways to side load certain apps but you can do better looking for a version which can use the official market stores.
7” 1280x800 HD, Backlit IPS, Scratch-resistant Corning glass
1.2MP Front-facing camera
8GB or 16GB versions
Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
Battery 4325 mAh (up to 8hrs of active use)
What do you get in the box:
1x Nexus 7, USB charge/sync cable, USB wall charger, quick start guide
£15/$25 of credit and Transformers Movie, couple of sample book chapters
On opening the swish black box the tablet sits on top wrapped in a plastic wrap, on holding it it does feel quite light and a little weird but then I am normally only holding a 4” screen droid phone. The rubber back feels higher quality than a lot of rubber effect style backs and cases you can get. It is very Kindle like and is around the same size as a thin paper back.
The only port is the micro usb at the bottom of the device with three buttons on the right hand side the lower one/two are the volume and the one above is the power and sleep button.
Boot up time was 30 seconds and then you are prompted to register or enter your Google account details. You can then choose for your phone apps to be automatically downloaded, I chose against this as I wanted to play now, and I didn’t want all of the same apps on here.
The picture and display are very good, I have used a few older tablets, along with iPads, and my favourite of was still the Toshiba Thrive (few different names) the resolution of that was 1024 and that was on a 10”. The viewing angle is very good with minimal glare. The Nexus 7 has a higher display on a smaller screen it is very bright and sharp, sure it won’t win against a retina display but this at the current time the spec is a hell of a lot cheaper than phones and hardware with those included.
General use: Installing apps is quicker than on my phone but then this has more memory and extra processing power; everything was very fast and reliable. You have 5 panes to customise with apps or widgets and wall paper. One of the main windows comes with library and recommend widgets these are very handy with suggestions on what you may like to install.
The Magnet sensor is handy and a number of Nexus 7 tablet cases on take advantage of it especially as the Official case is not being released in the UK straight after launch! It will simply lock the tablet for you and when opening the case you will be at the lock screen.
The screen rotate function came locked, by just flicking down the notification will allow you to unlock it, as with most of the phones will only rotate three ways unless you install an app like forced rotate :)
Voice commands sure you can do the Siri style voice commands or download the better ones from the web .Andy for example, and Vlingo for car use is hard to beat. However Google Now is very cool, along with 'Current' - Simply pick which newspapers, websites, feeds you are intrested in and it will automatically sync or on command. So you can then go on the commute and read offline! This is how it should be!
Google Now with search is simple just swipe from the bottom up and press the microphone and ask the weather, a factual questions and the answer should be spoken to you with a the Google results page just below to narrow down.
I did see videos of folks in the USA being able to use the keyword ‘Google’ to automate this so you simply say it instead of pressing the microphone, but I understand this option is currently in dispute... If I’m wrong let me know as there seemed to be lots of confusion about it prior to devices shipping in different areas.
Kindle App is a must have if you intend to read, and the bonus is you can find many free books on Amazon or books which sell for £8 in paperback for just 20p! On comparing books from Google Books to Amazon, Amazon seems to be 40-80p cheaper.
You can easily view PDFs, I prefer ezPDF, but you can install other apps, of course because the device has no external storage you need to use a cable to connect to a PC and copy across or use Dropbox, Google Drive, SugarSync etc to get them onto your device.
Flash Support / YouTube: Adobe no longer support Flashplayer on newer versions of Android so direct Flash support is a no no, instead they are pushing towards using the many benefits of HTML5, don’t worry though you can easily view YouTube videos through the browser or via the app without any problems.
Battery: Battery life is very good the 8 hours quoted is realistic but it depends what you are doing, changing the wi-fi so that it is off when in sleep mode will help, along with turning down the brightness or using a screen filter app will also help prolong the juice.
Finally: For the 150/199 price point if you are considering a reader/multi device to take over from the ever increasing phone sizes (S3) and faster battery drain times. And you can live without an SD reader, USB stick compatible, and HDMI device than this 7” Asus design is for you. You can buy a number of 7" and larger tablets on Amazon if these appealed to you, then watch the price of them fall very soon as none of them at the time I looked could match the processor of the hardware and of course only the Nexus comes with 4.1 straight away.
Yes be prepared for a pre Christmas rush of newer and possibly better devices from Apple and Amazon amongst others. If you are not tied to Apple, and are looking to have a device now to enjoy in work and on your summer breaks you will be very impressed with the Nexus 7.