I remember staying up to watch Google I/O Day 1 keynote last month and despite already knowing that Google will announce a 7″ tablet, it was still exciting to see it being revealed.
Nexus 7 went on pre-order the same day and it started selling like hot cakes. I know many of us back home were rather envious of some of our friends who were fortunate enough to attend the event.
Why is Nexus 7 an important device for Google ? Well it first of all represents a merging point for Google’s product and cloud services coming together. The latest in hardware (quad core), latest in software (Android 4.1 Jelly bean), Google Chrome and personalised assistant Google Now, among others.
For users who are already using Google’s services ie Gmail, Movies, Books, Magazine etc this device makes perfect sense, plus it’s only 7 inches making it portable and light. The biggest selling point has definitely got to be its price as well; USD 199 for 8 GB and USD 249 for the 16GB variant.
I was fortunate enough to grab one from Harvey Norman while I was travelling in Melbourne, Australia and have been thoroughly enjoying my time with it. It did cost me slightly more though, at AUD 319 for a 16GB version but the silver lining is that I got to actually test the unit before forking out money for it.
The Google Nexus 7 like previous Nexus devices sets the standard for next generation Android tablets. It comes with a 7-inch back-lit IPS display (1280 x 800 resolution, 216 ppi); 1.3GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor; 1GB RAM; 8GB or 16GB storage; 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera; Bluetooth 4; WiFi N; accelerometer; GPS; gyroscope; magnetometer; microphone; near field communications; 4325 mAh battery; and Android 4.1. The tablet itself measures at 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm and 340 grams.
Having previously owned Asus devices namely the Transformer and Transformer Prime, I was pretty surprise when I got hold of the Nexus 7 box. It was pretty tiny and compact in comparison with the other Asus devices.
In fact the box is so damn compact that many had problems removing the unit from the box. Fortunately I’ve seen a couple of unboxing videos on YouTube and was prepared with a pair of scissors.
Here’s the video, it was definitely funny watching all the failed attempts at unboxing the Nexus 7.
Upon opening the box, you’re presented with the actual tablet and underneath it is the manuals, USB cable, and AC charger. Nothing out of the ordinary here and the device is already half charged out of the box which is certainly a plus point.
The most important thing for me is how the Nexus 7 would feel in my hands and thankfully it didn’t disappoint. I’ve had a chance to try out Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.0 and Tab 7.7 and it comes no where close in terms of feel. Asus/Google did a brilliant job in choosing the material for the back of the Nexus 7. It’s smooth to the touch and yet with it’s little dimples/dots gives a confident feel while holding it, so there’s no worry about it slipping out of your hands or leaving smudges like some devices with a glossy back.
The screen is excellent and has wide viewing angles plus it’s on par if not slightly better than most IPS LCD tablets out there. The speakers on the device is placed at the rear of the device and is loud enough unlike the Transformer Prime. The tablet comes with a Quad-core Tegra 3 so there’s definitely no complains there when it comes to playing games, watching 1080p full HD movies or even browsing the web with multiple tabs on Chrome. It remains buttery smooth.
The only thing I didn’t really like about the setup process is that you need a WiFi to get it working. There’s no way to skip the setup process like other Android phones/tablets. Couple of minutes after I got it connected to the WiFi I was prompted about an update (Android 4.1.1) and it prompted for a reboot. The installation process went smoothly and took less than a minute.
I’ve had Jelly Bean on my Galaxy Nexus for a couple of weeks now so I definitely know how much better and smoother it is compared to Ice Cream Sandwich and it’s no different on the Nexus 7, everything works as expected and is buttery smooth; at times I feel it’s more responsive than my Galaxy Nexus.
The other thing I didn’t really like was the phone UI on the Nexus 7. It made things look cluttered, and to a certain extent made the tablet look like a giant Galaxy Nexus, without phone features. There’s already a workaround to enable tablet UI but it involves rooting the device and changing system files, so casual users should avoid this.
Overall I really love how the Nexus 7 feels in my hand and I’ve used a couple of 7 inch devices previously so I definitely know the merits of having one compared to a 10 inch tablet. The price factor makes it even more attractive plus you’ll get USD 25 credit to spend in Google Play.
Not all Google content is available in all parts of the world though; for eg here in Australia there’s no access to Magazines and you can’t buy movies, only rent them.
Apart from that, taking the ecosystem out of the equation the Google Nexus 7 is a solid tablet that will make many soon to be ebook readers compare their purchase with the Nexus 7 first before deciding on which one to get.
Keep on the lookout in the future for a more in-depth review from us as we get to know the Nexus 7 better and try to see what works and what doesn’t.