Google and it’s partners have been trying really hard for some time now to bring a tablet that can match the success of the iPad. However, the only tablet that managed to get decent sales besides the iPad was Amazon’s Kindle Fire that, despite being based on Android, makes no mention of it and has it’s own App Store giving Google nothing really in return. While the iPad continues to gain market share, Google has something else to worry about as well- the upcoming Windows 8 RT towards the end of this year and the number of tablets it will bring with it. It will become increasingly difficult for Google to compete in the tablet space and thus, at this year’s I/O event, they released the Google Nexus 7 making one final attempt at the tablet market before they get hammered from all sides. Let’s find out if the Nexus 7 is a device that can help Google stay in the tablet game.
The Nexus 7 comes packaged is a compact little box that is about the same size as the tablet. Bundled with the Nexus 7 is your bare essentials- the USB charger plug that is rated at 2A, a USB cable, a headset and finally some warranty information. The following is an unboxing video we did for the Nexus 7
Build Quality and Design
On the PC side of things, ASUS is one of the best partners to have as a manufacturer and they have done a pretty good job of putting together the Nexus 7 for Google. The seven inch tablet measures 198.5 x 120 x 10.5 mm and feels very sturdy in your hands. At 340g, the Nexus 7 is considerably lighter than the iPad however, it feels slightly a tad bit heavier for it’s size and design.
Google continues to follow on their design reference by adding no buttons on the Nexus 7 on the front. All you see is a big slab of glass that certainly makes the unit look elegant. The right side features a power button as well as volume keys while the bottom has your USB port and a 3.5mm audio jack. The back side has a rubberized finish giving you a good grip. Interestingly, Google does not equip the Nexus 7 with a camera on the back so the only one you have is a 1.2 megapixel version of the front above the screen suited for Skype and Google Hangouts.
Specs and Comparison and Benchmarks
Google has done a pretty good job of equipping the Nexus 7 with the latest/greatest as far as specifications are concerned. The following table compares the Nexus 7 to the new iPad as well as the Transformer Pad TF300T.
|Google Nexus 7|
|Apple New iPad|
|198.5 x 120 x 10.5 mm|
|263 x 180.8 x 9.9 mm|
|241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4 mm|
|7.0 inches LED-backlit IPS LCD|
|10.1 inches IPS LCD, capacitive|
|9.7" LED-backlit IPS TFT|
|800 x 1280 pixels (~216 ppi)|
|1280 x 800 pixels (~149 ppi)|
|1536 x 2048 pixels (~264 ppi)|
|Nvidia Tegra 3 T33|
1.3GHz Quad Core
|Nvidia Tegra 3 T30L|
1.2GHz Quad Core
|8/16 GB storage, 1GB RAM|
|16/32 GB storage, 1GB RAM|
|Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n|
|Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n|
|DC-HSDPA, 42 Mbps; HSDPA, 21 Mbps|
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
|1.2MP front facing|
|8 MP, 3264x2448 pixels, autofocus|
1.2MP front facing
|5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, autofocus|
VGA front facing
|Li-Ion 4325 mAh|
|Li-Po 5950 mAh|
|Li-Po 11,560 mAh|
Coming to the performance, the Nexus 7 score 3649 in Quadrant compared to the Transformer Pad at 3550. While the Nexus 7 proved to faster in CPU and memory performance, it's IO performance was lower than the Transformer Pad. 2D and 3D performance was similar.
Screen UI and Apps
While the Nexus 7 fares really well with build quality, specifications and benchmarks, it is the screen that I found a bit disappointing mainly because I'm not a big fan of 7” screens and think that they are a bit on the smaller side for a tablet- especially considering that phones are rapidly approaching 5” sizes and, in the case of Samsung’s Galaxy Note, crossing that line. On a 7” screen, reading an e-book is fine but things like browsing the web, reading a magazine or playing a game just don’t have that same visual impact. If you don’t mind the smaller 7” screen and prefer it to bigger sized tablets then the you’ll certainly find the Nexus 7 an appealing tablet- the screen may be a bit small but it has good pixel density of 216ppi and color output although it is a tad bit on the reflective side.
Coming to the UI, I feel that Google is still experimenting with the design and layout for their tablets as the Nexus 7 doesn’t offer a true tablet experience found on other tablets but is somewhat of a mix between the phone interface and the tablet interface. Powered by the latest Android 4.1 OS Jelly Bean, the Nexus 7, for example, does not have a landscape oriented home screen and uses an enhanced "Phone" homescreen instead of the tablet homescreen which makes it a bit annoying especially when you’re switching between landscape oriented apps and the home screen. These things are probably “fixable” with a custom ROM but I hope Google addresses it with an update.
Usability and Battery Life
One of the best features that Google introduced in Jelly Bean is Google Now that is wonderful at finding things around you such as places to check out, public transportation timings, weather and traffic. However, these things require a data connection which, unfortunately, the Nexus 7 cannot provide at all times. I mentioned earlier that I’m not a big fan of 7” tablets but they could probably work well as a travelling companion. However, the lack of 3G capabilities on the Nexus 7 don’t allow you to use it as one. One could argue that you could use your phone’s hotspot capabilities but that’s not the point and either ways, considering the amount of battery that a portable hotspot consumes, I would definitely not like my phone to be used as one when I’m out for a few hours.
Coming to battery life, the Nexus 7 comes equipped with a 4325mAh battery that, according to Google, should give you eight hours of battery. In my non-scientific tests, I found the battery to last more than that and was easily getting over nine hours without any issues.
The Google Nexus 7 is currently selling for AED 1,200 for an 8GB unit which is a bit on the higher side considering that same unit sells for US$200 (AED 740.) At US$200, the Nexus 7 is a steal if you are ok with a small 7” sized tablet and is, without doubt, the best tablet to get. However,at AED 1,200, it is much closer to the iPad 2 which is currently selling for around AED 1,500 and with a larger screen and more tablet like interface, I think is a better buy.