Google Nexus 7 review

The first Google tablet finally takes the Android problem into its own hands






Google Nexus 7 review

Design

On paper, the specs for the Nexus 7 are quite impressive. Powered by a quad-core Tegra 3 processor with 1GB RAM and either 8GB (priced at £159 in the UK) or 16GB (£199) of onboard storage, this tablet runs circles around the Kindle Fire, rivaling many competing Android tablets at twice the price (or more).

Google Nexus 7 review


The 7-inch 1200 x 800 HD backlit IPS display packs a respectable 216 pixels per inch onto the screen. Sure, it's not quite as impressive as a third-generation Retina Display iPad at 264ppi, but given the price, you will have little to complain about from the display.\

The front of the Google Nexus 7 by Asus is devoid of hardware-based buttons, but a 1.2MP front-facing camera rests at the top of the tablet front, which is covered entirely by Corning glass (we're assuming Gorilla Glass, but Google isn't confirming).



Google Nexus 7 review




Curiously, Google seems to buck the landscape trend made popular with most Android tablets.

While the Nexus 7 will indeed rotate for landscape use with apps, the home screen itself is fixed into portrait mode, as if Google wants to encourage users to hold it this way when not watching content designed for landscape views, such as movies or TV shows. Portrait mode even works when viewed with polarised sunglasses, while landscape mode goes black.

Unlike the Kindle Fire with its one lone button, Google has wisely opted for three basic hardware controls.
On the right side is a power/sleep button with a two-stage volume rocker just below; the rest is done using Android's on-screen software buttons for back, home and recent navigation, including rotation lock, which can be accessed via the notifications menu.

At the bottom of the unit is a micro USB port and 3.5mm headphone jack, while a thin speaker port is the only feature of note on the otherwise rubberised back, aside from Nexus and Asus branding. The top of the unit is devoid of ports entirely, although a small pinhole can be found here for the included microphone.

Google Nexus 7 review

While the Google Nexus 7 is primarily made of plastic and glass, it certainly doesn't feel cheap. On the contrary, it feels almost as "premium" as one of Apple's tablets, with litte flex or other clues that Asus might have cut some corners in manufacturing - although we did notice some creakiness in our tablet sample between the bezel and the plastic cover.

Inside, the Nexus 7 packs the usual assortment of features, including an accelerometer, magnetometer and yes, even a gyroscope and GPS chip, nicely timed to take advantage of Google Maps' new offline mode for navigating when Wi-Fi isn't available.

Google Nexus 7 review


It's almost hard to comprehend how small the Nexus 7 is until you hold its diminutive box in your hand. At a mere 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm and weighing 340 grams, once out of the box, you can almost stack two Nexus 7 tablets side-by-side on one iPad, which is just one millimeter thinner.

Despite being so petite, Google and Asus managed to find space for a nice bezel around the screen itself (roughly 20mm top and bottom, 14mm on each side), making it plenty comfortable to hold without your fingers or thumbs getting in the way of the screen.

Google Nexus 7 review

The pockmarked back recalls the same vibe as slipping on a pair of premium driving gloves, and this look and feel makes it quite nice to hold - and is devoid of camera. While our review unit arrived with a white back (similar to the ones gifted to developers at I/O this year), Google is only offering the black model to consumers.

Speaking of which, the Nexus 7 is available direct from the Google Play store, but the company has also rolled the tablet out at retail as well.