Review: Google Nexus 7

The 7-inch Nexus 7 competes with the likes of the Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, Galaxy Tab 2 and others, as well as older spec’d devices like the Kobo Vox and Nook Color. Google’s Nexus line is generally the first to get updates & new versions of Android and are free of the bloatware many manufacturers pre-load on their devices.

Google Nexus 7
There are two variants of the Nexus 7 available. The tablet is built by ASUS to Google’s specifications and has a very good build quality. It sports the newest version of Android yet, version 4.1 ‘Jelly Bean’, and gives a full Android experience as opposed to the modified versions of Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ that the Kindle Fire and Nook Tab & Color use.

The Nexus 7′s hardware is the best out there in the sub-$400 tablet arena.  The 1280×800 IPS screen (216ppi) is stunning and while it’s not quite as nice as the screen on the new iPad it’s still quite good and is wonderful for reading. It’s nicer than the Fire or Nook’s lower resolution screens and those aren’t bad by any means. Text is clear and crisp and a pleasure to read even at small sizes. The IPS display has very good viewing angles, which is nice if more than one person is watching a movie or something. A few people have mentioned having screen separation and light bleed issues as well as screen flickering issues I saw none of these problems with my unit.

The Nexus 7 has a 1.3 GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor that is a first for a 7-inch device. The processor is fast and it shows when running apps and even just in basic interaction with the Android OS. I don’t generally play more than casual games on tablets, but the Tegra 3′s 12-core GPU ran 3D games quickly and smoothly when I tried some out. Overall device response is very quick and everything flows nicely, I’ve noticed no lag or stuttering that I sometimes experience on other Android devices. Some of that is the processor and some of that is the OS as Google has really made it a point to smooth things out in Jelly Bean.

The battery life claimed by Google is “up to 8 hours active use” and I find that claim to be about right.  You might squeeze out a bit more by turning the brightness all the way down and turning off WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS. I found the battery to hold a charge quite well when the device was in sleep mode, something that can’t be said for all Android devices.

At 340g the Nexus is a bit lighter than both the Kindle Fire (413g) and Nook Tab (400g), which doesn’t seem like a lot, but I did definitely notice a difference.  Of course all seem a bit heavy when compared to an eInk reader. While the Nexus is about the same thickness as the Fire it ‘seems’ thinner due to the beveled edges it sports.  It also as a rubberized back with a dot pattern on it which makes it very comfortable to hold ‘naked’.

The Nexus 7 has a very attractive price (S$399 for WiFi and S$499 for WiFi/3G) and is a top device in the increasingly crowded 7-inch tablet market.  However, if you already have a Fire, Nook Tablet or Galaxy Tab 2 it’s probably not a must have upgrade for most. One of the biggest things with the Nexus though, is that it isn’t limited to the US like the Fire and Nook’s are, and can be purchased from just about anywhere.

Aaron Yip

Aaron Yip is an industry veteran with more than 15 years of experience. When not spending time on his gaming PC and consoles, he can be found in Hyrule solving ungodly puzzles and collecting gems.