Review Index:
Feedback

Google Nexus 7 Tablet and Jelly Bean Review: Android Shows Smooth Movies

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction, Design and Connectivity

 

View Full Size
 
All of my past tablet reviews have come to a similar conclusion – buy the iPad. Unless you have a particular, specific use for your tablet which Apple’s walled garden does not support there is little reason to go with anything else. The problem is a combination of both hardware and software. Cupertino’s closed approach, which develops both in-house, has provided better products so far.
 
If you can’t beat them, you can always sell to a somewhat different market. And so we have the Google Nexus 7. There are three things about this tablet that has made many geeks very interested – it has a Tegra 3 processor, it runs Android 4.1 and it starts at $200 for the 8GB version.
 
This is, in fact, the production version of the $249 Tegra 3 tablet that we all ooo-ed and ahh-ed over during CES 2012. Google hasn’t paid much lip-service to ASUS, but the company’s logo is on the back of the tablet. I have no complaints about this partnership. ASUS has made the best Android tablets for some time, so going with them is an obvious choice.
 
 
So, let’s get down to brass tacks and look at the specifications of this device.
 
View Full Size
 
Everything looks excellent here. I’d like to draw particular attention to the display, which has a resolution of 1280x800. When crammed into a 7-inch form factor this translates to 216 pixels per inch, which is not so far away from the iPad 3’s 264 ppi. Display quality is among a tablet’s most important features, so it’s good to see that Google has taken it seriously. 
 
With that said, one of my biggest beefs with previous Android tablets has been Android itself. It always has had a bit of jerkiness to it on tablets I’ve tested – bugged apps, weird multi-tasking and a general lack of responsiveness. Android on the Nexus 7 is supposed to fix those problems, but I’ve heard that refrain before. Let’s find out if Google’s new tablet can sing a different tune.
 
Design And Connectivity
View Full Size
 
Designing a tablet that looks different from other slabs of plastic, metal and silicon is difficult, but Google has added some flair to the Nexus 7. The normal glossy black front is bordered on all sides by silver trim. I’m not sure if the trim is metal or plastic, but whatever the material is, it looks great and feels solid. 
 
Flipping the Nexus 7 over introduces users to a rubberized back panel that appears inspired by a pair of gym shorts. I wouldn’t call it attractive because, uh, it isn’t. Functional, though – it is that. The rubber coat provides the user’s hands with a good grip. This is the sort of ugly-but-useful feature that Apple never refuses to place on its products. 
 
Build quality is solid. Most tablets feel tightly built because so much hardware is crammed into a thin space, but the Nexus 7 is certainly in a league above the Kindle Fire, this tablet’s most obvious competitor. I’m extremely impressed by the lack of noticeable panel gaps. ASUS has screwed this tablet together with precision. 
 
The Nexus, like most Android tablets, has an aspect ratio of 16:9. This is exaggerated further by the bezel of the tablet, which is very thin along the sides (as held in portrait orientation) yet extremely thick along the bottom and top. This makes the tablet easy to palm when held in portrait, but a bit too wide when held in landscape (still, it’s easier to use than a 10-inch tablet). Google has positioned the tablet’s power and volume buttons well out the user’s grip, so they are unlikely to be hit accidentally. 
 
View Full Size
 
One area where Google has cut corners to meet its price target is connectivity. A quick sweep around the edges of the Nexus reveals there are only two ports, a micro-USB 2.0 that is also used for charging and a headphone jack. The Nexus has Bluetooth and wireless b/g/n/a support as well. This means no HDMI-out, which could be a disappointment for those who thought they might use the Nexus to stream video to a television. 
July 26, 2012 | 01:46 PM - Posted by pdjblum

Thanks for the review.

Knowing how unforgiving you can be when it comes to Android tablets, your strongly positive conclusion carries even more weight. The minor quibbles you have with this device will probably be overlooked by the vast majority of users, and they will like it even more than you like it. Watch out crapple.

July 26, 2012 | 02:09 PM - Posted by JSL

"Let’s if Google’s new tablet can since a different tune."

what? lol

"This is the sort of ugly-but-useful feature that Apple never refuses to place on its products."

...but apple does refuse these types of 'features' because they're asthetically displeasing.

July 26, 2012 | 02:10 PM - Posted by Zanthis

Hay man, soomtoimes it hard too tipe!

July 26, 2012 | 08:02 PM - Posted by JSL

continuing...
"which is very thing along the sides"
you mean "thin" right?

While the device doesnt have a dedicated hdmi mini port out, it does have the ability to stream from usb to hdmi like many other newer Android devices using MHL. All that's needed is an MHL USB-HDMI cable adaptor ($25-$30)

Adaptors
HTC's MHL adaptor -> http://i.imgur.com/MFHJy.png
Samsung's MHL Adaptor -> http://i.imgur.com/8d86S.jpg
Kanex (3rd Party) MHL Adaptor -> http://i.imgur.com/nRx4Q.jpg
There's so many to choose from out in the market, listed simply 3 of many.

Other than that, good job on the short review.

July 26, 2012 | 08:57 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Yeah I have that Samsung one, it came with my Infuse. It requires USB power though, which kind of sucks :(.

July 26, 2012 | 11:43 PM - Posted by JSL

They have to be active adaptors... just imagine how fast it would drain your device if it wasnt.

:|

I have the oem HTC one. It's a little more compact than the samsung one.

July 27, 2012 | 12:25 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

heh, I suppose but still, I'd rather have the adapter have it's own battery pack or something, just so it'd be a bit more portable. Running out of plug space on the ol' surge protector here :P hehe.

July 27, 2012 | 10:13 AM - Posted by JSL

I wonder if one could use one of those usb battery packs (like the portapow) to power the adapter. I dont think it would be an issue as long as it puts out atleast 1 amp.

July 27, 2012 | 01:53 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Hmm.. I'll have to try that!

July 27, 2012 | 06:15 AM - Posted by Widg3ts (not verified)

Agreed. A great article.

For clarification, when I see IPS, i think "not bad", not "great".

Declaring a minimum minimum by using the "IPS" tech, is useful. It says, this may not be the bee's knees, but you'll definitely know it's not the Bee's butt.

July 27, 2012 | 08:05 AM - Posted by JSL

'Retina' displays are IPS LCD's... just an fyi.

July 27, 2012 | 06:17 AM - Posted by Widg3ts (not verified)

"Back in the day of Android 3.3" Lol. Honeycomb +

July 30, 2012 | 11:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Nice article, but holy typos and grammatical errors, batman! Doesn't anyone edit these things?

August 6, 2012 | 06:39 PM - Posted by John Higgins (not verified)

Seems there is a decent amount of variance when it comes to the display quality and more specifically black level. My N7's black level is very good and I have seen two reviews that used measuring equipment and both showed a solid black level that was better than the ipad 3 each had also measured though they were basically close enough to be a wash.

I have yet to see an ipad 3 screen but my n7 is far superior to my own ipad 1 and 3 ipad 2s that I have used on occasion.

Will be interesting to see if later batch N7s are more consistent in this area. Asus has been having some mega QC issues lately (the Zennbok Prime being an example) so I wouldn't hold my breath.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.