Google Nexus 7 – Review Round Up

google-nexus-7

Nine months ago Google released the Nexus 7 and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say it changed the tablet landscape forever.

Before the Nexus 7, tablet owners had two choices: buy a rather expensive third party Android tablet made by Sony, Samsung or Asus, or buy Apple’s rather expensive iPad.

The whole concept of Nexus first started with smartphones, it’s where Google makes Android devices alongside a manufacturer of its choice – but crucially Google calls the shots.

Google’s masterstroke was to create a new line of Nexus tablets that would be sold a slight loss. The thought being they could recoup the money via Android users buying content from the search engine’s Play Store, and 9 months on it has been a massive success.

The second generation Nexus 7 has been made alongside Asus again – so does it still offer the most bang for your buck when it comes to a pure Android tablet experience?

Well in a word: yes. Somehow Google and Asus have managed to improve the Nexus 7 in every single area without compromising on price or build quality.

The main headline-grabbing change comes in the form of the new IPS screen. Whilst the previous Nexus had a 1280×800 screen running a ppi of 216, the second-generation Nexus 7 is sporting a 1900×1200 screen running a gargantuan 326 ppi, just for some perspective the current 4th generation iPad has a ppi of 264.

As well as the screen getting a major bump in specs, the Nexus 7 has ditched the Tegra processor is now sporting a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, and it has also seen a significant increase in onboard RAM, which has now jumped from 1GB to 2GB.

The Nexus 7 comes in two variants: 16 and 32GB, but unfortunately memory cannot be supplemented via microSD cards.

There’s obviously support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 (including Bluetooth Smart support), and a GPS. Additionally you’ll find a gyroscope, accelerometer, and a digital compass too.

Interestingly the battery on the new Nexus 7 has actually been decreased from 4325mAh to 3950mAh, but is said to last longer due to software optimisations made in Android 4.3, and should last you up to 9 hours of HD playback and 10 hours of web browsing or e-reading.

“Pound for pound, the Nexus 7 is the best small tablet you can buy […] It houses a ridiculously sharp, bright screen, its gaming performance is second only to the fourth-generation iPad, and as a Google-branded tablet it will always see the latest version of Android before any other tablet brand.” –  Cnet

“The new model trades up to a sleek, classy, all-black body that very clearly means business. […] The matte black back no longer looks or feels like Steve McQueen’s leathery driving gloves, but it’s still soft to the touch and much nicer to hold than some of the glossy, plastic backs on devices like the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0. At 8.65 mm thick, it’s slightly slimmer than the last model, and at 0.64 pounds slightly lighter as well. It’s also about a credit card thicker than the iPad mini, and almost exactly as tall. Google shaved a quarter of an inch off the bezels on either side of the display, which makes the device fit much more easily into my hand as well. I can grasp it like a phone, holding the tablet in my palm and tapping on the screen with my thumb — the iPad mini requires two hands, one to hold the device and the other to use it.” –  The Verge

“Under the hood, the 2013 Nexus matches the original’s in total internal storage. […] When you flip over the Nexus, the first thing you’ll notice — aside from the lack of dimples, of course — is that ASUS added a 5-megapixel camera in the top left corner (sorry, no LED flash). There are also three machine-drilled speaker grilles: a long one up top and two shorter ones on the bottom. That means you’ll benefit from stereo sound, a nice step up from the mono setup on the original.” – Engadget

“Based on specs alone the iPad mini has some work to do […] the Nexus 7 is the first device in the Google Nexus family to use Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, an incremental software update with features like support for OpenGL ES 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0 LE support, and the ability to restrict certain user accounts. That last capability might come in handy if you plan to buy this tablet for yourself and your family. There aren’t many tablet-optimized applications available for Android yet, but Google is changing the way it showcases those particular apps, to make them easier to find.” – Tech Hive

Pound for pound, the second-gen Nexus 7 is easily the best small tablet you can buy at the moment. Google and its hardware manufacturer, Asus, have managed to do the impossible and improve upon an already proven recipe in every single area.

If Apple is going to quash the Nexus 7’s ever increasing dominance of the budget tablet market with its next iteration of the iPad mini, it’s got a lot of catching up to do as the Nexus 7 is almost the perfect tablet.

Google I/O Round-Up

With Google I/O developers now finished we take a look back at Google’s two big announcements: the world’s first ever Nexus 7 tablet and the latest version of Android’s Jelly Bean operating system.

Google made its intention to conquer the tablet market when it released a tablet-friendly version of Android Honeycomb in 2010 – its had some success with 10 million Honeycomb tablets sold since it’s release.

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But, during the same time Apple sold 30 million tablets – so Google has taken stock and is now seemingly changing tack and going after the both the budget and premium markets. Google’s showed off Nexus 7 tablet, which has been built in conjunction with Asus, and will be priced at just £159 for the base model – slap-bang in the middle of the Amazon’s Kindle Fire price range.

But what do you actually get for you hard earned? The tablet comes with an impressive IPS screen, boasting a resolution of 1280 x 800 – punching well above its weight for its price range.

While some might bemoan the size of the screen, it does achieve a ppi (pixels per inch) ratio of 216, which is impressive considering the cheap price.

Where the Nexus 7 does hit the headlines is Google & Asus’ decision to incorporate Nvidia’s quad-core processor, the Tegra 3, which is currently found in both the top-end HTC One X and Asus Transformer Prime.

You can expect to get 8 hours of active use with the tablet, and Asus reckon you’ll get up to 300 hours on standby. The Asus Nexus 7 tablet is very compact for its size, measuring just 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm. On top of that it weighs in at just 340g, around half that of the new iPad.

There’s a 1.3 megapixel camera on the front, but no camera on the back – although this isn’t that surprising considering the low price point.

Where things begin to fall apart is expansion and connections; there’s no HDMI or SD card slot – but you’re afforded the luxury of a micro USB – unfortunately there’s no 3G but there is of course Wi-Fi b/g/n.

Google is already taking orders on their Google Play Store, and it will begin shipping to the US, UK, Canada and Australia in July, priced £159 for the 8GB and £199 for the 16GB version.

Overall the Nexus 7 blows the competition out of the water for its price point. As well a getting a stunning tablet for a third of the price of an iPad – you’ll be getting the first device running Google Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Google has gone to great lengths with Jelly Bean to make sure there’s no lag when opening up applications, especially when switching between apps – those of you who own an Ice Cream sandwich handset will know the multi-tasking menu sometimes takes a couple of seconds to load, with Jelly Bean it’s now instant.

Perhaps the biggest change in Android Jelly Bean lies in the notifications drop down menu. Google has overhauled the existing Android notification system and made it even more useful. You can now see additional information on emails, including a list of your unread messages. By holding two fingers over an email and pulling them apart, you can get an expanded view, showing the contents of the message without even having to open up Gmail.

Google Now is another major addition; it’s Google’s attempt at creating a Siri-like concierge service, but with intelligence to surf the web for it’s answers.

As soon as Google Now opens, it tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform, or your favorite team’s score while they’re playing. And the best part? All of this happens automatically; cards appear throughout the day at the moment you need them from a variety of context and location sources.

It’s still too early to say quite how good Android Jelly Bean is, this is because by the time it goes to other handsets with new skins and slight cosmetic changes it might have lost a bit of its sheen, but from our early impression it’s the best OS Google has ever made.