Google Nexus 7 Review
We review the Google Nexus 7 and see if it can go toe-to-toe with the iPad and Kindle Fire
The Nexus 7 is Google's attempt to try and show how well good an Android tablet can be and in this review, we'll see if the search giant pulled it off.
The Nexus 7 is the first device to launch with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and it really makes a difference. Thanks to the "Project Butter" part of the software, the screen is ultra- responsive to your touch. If you're used to an iPad, that should just be a given but I've noticed that many Android tablets have a slight delay between when you tap the screen and when they system registers it. Some devices can also lag a bit when you're swiping between home screens or launching apps.
The Nexus 7 with Jelly Bean is fast, fluid and quite beautiful. Finally, there's an Android tablet that can go toe-to-toe with an iPad when it comes to responsiveness.
The 4.1 version of Android also brings many neat new features like an expanded notification bar. This makes it much easier to see more information when you pull down the notification window shade. For example, e-mail notifications now give you the first few lines of the message, so it's easier to know if you need to interact with that immediately. This is being opened up to third-party developers, so look for this to grow in importance and usefulness.
I also like the form factor … for the most part. The 7-inch, 1280 x 800 display is housed in a stunning and light body. The Nexus 7 fits perfectly in one hand and it can even be easily transported in a standard pocket. You're sacrificing a little real estate compared to a 10-inch tablet but it is so easy to carry the Nexus 7 that you probably won't care.
One of my main beefs with the Kindle Fire is that there's a major lack of Google apps like Maps, Gmail, Chrome and more. The Nexus 7 is made by Google, so you can be sure that all of its apps run really well on this beauty. If you're a big Google user, then this is the right tablet for you. Google specifically said the Nexus 7 was built to showcase the Play Store and it shows: The market and many apps do look great on this thing.
The Nexus 7 has a quad-core Tegra 3 chipset inside with a 12-core GPU, so it has plenty of power for gaming. Games can look stunning on this tablet and the smaller screen size (compared to an iPad) actually makes touchscreen controls easier to handle.
Apple and Amazon are known for having larger ecosystems than Google when it comes to entertainment, but the search giant is rapidly catching up. You can now buy and rent high-quality movies and television shows directly from the device and these can be streamed or downloaded to the tablet for offline viewing. The Play Store also offers e-books and digital magazines for your reading pleasure.
Thanks to its sleek design, Jelly Bean software and great screen, the Nexus 7 is the best Android tablet you can buy right now.
The Nexus 7 isn't perfect, though, as there are multiple aspects of the Nexus 7 that bother me. Some of these are small, unique problems, while others are larger, platform-wide issues. Let the griping begin!
The overall design of the Nexus 7 tablet is nice, but I think there's way too much of a bezel on the face. You're already getting less screen space than an iPad but the additional borders around it make the display seem even smaller. It also doesn't help that the unit I received from Google I/O has a couple of dead pixels. That's a production default, but it seems like a rare issue.
I think taking pictures with tablets looks a little silly but I still like the option. Unfortunately, the Nexus 7 doesn't have a rear-facing camera.
If you're going to buy a Nexus 7, I'd suggest shelling out the extra money for the 16GB version because the 8GB runs out of space very quickly. I downloaded an HD version of Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, the Max Payne game and a few other apps and quickly hit my storage limit. Sure, you can stream videos instead of downloading them, but that's likely not going to be much help when you're on a plane without Wi-Fi and want to watch a movie.
Jelly Bean has made Android a much more pleasant and responsive experience but there's still work to be done. Within 10 minutes of booting up my device and using it, I was hit with two crashed apps (Play and Gmail).
Even iPad apps will crash, but at least on Apple's tablets, a program will close quickly, kick you to the home screen and then you can re-launch it. It's a pain but a minor one. On the Nexus 7, the app will straight up freeze for a few seconds, the touch screen becomes unresponsive and you'll eventually be kicked to the home screen with a pop-up box telling you about the crash.
This is a major pain.
More importantly, there's nothing in Jelly Bean or Google's approach that will make developers want to create tablet-specific apps. There are more than 60,000 iPad-specific apps but there are only a few hundred tablet-specific apps for Android. Many of the apps you'll be using on the Nexus 7 are glorified phone apps that are blown up.
This isn't horrible, as there are many elements in Android that naturally scale up apps for larger screens but it's not just about how the apps look. An app that has been specifically designed for a larger screen delivers a better experience on a tablet and I'm worried we won't see a ton of those on the Nexus 7.
The Final Take
The Nexus 7 is the best Android tablet around.
It runs circles around the Kindle Fire because it has more fluid software, has stronger hooks to Google and the overall design is great. Don't count Amazon out yet, though, as we're expecting a new Kindle Fire in July and don't forget that a Kindle Fire also gets you a free subscription to Amazon Prime (which I love).
On the downside, the Nexus 7 is not better than an iPad, has some limitations when it comes to storage and we still wish there were some better apps targeting tablets. Still, the Nexus 7 is quite a nice device and the $199 entry-level price can't be beat.