Review: Google Nexus 7
When it comes to value for money with tablets, you can’t go wrong with the Google Nexus 7. For $200 (roughly Php8,600 directly converted to Php) you get a blazing fast, elegantly designed, and most update-ready Android tablet. Initially I wasn’t buying into the hype but after using this for more than a week now, I can honestly say that the Nexus 7 is literally one of the best tablets ever made. Google and ASUS will definitely make a killing with this device.
That’s not to say though that it’s perfect. It has flaws and the most obvious one is the very limited storage capacity (non expandable via microSD card). Are the specs and features enough to overcome this issue? Read on for our full review.
Google Nexus 7 Spec Sheet
- Quad-core Tegra 3 processor
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB or 16GB internal storage, no micro-SD slot
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- 7-inch 1280×800 HD display (~216 ppi)
- Scratch-resistant Corning glass
- 1.2MP front-facing camera (no rear-facing)
- 4325 mAh Battery
- NFC (Android Beam)
- Accelerometer, GPS, Magnetometer, Gyroscope
- 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm
- 340 grams
- OS: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Before you go on you might want to read our unboxing and initial impressions of the Nexus 7 by clicking this link.
Nexus 7 wipes the floor with most Android tablets in design
The moment you touch the Nexus 7 and lift it out of the box we can guarantee that you’ll be amazed at the body design considering how much you paid for it. The dark grey rubberized back not only gives you great grip but it also makes it look much more premium compared to the plastic backs that we see a lot of tablets are sporting these days.
During the unveiling of the Nexus 7, Google said that with this tablet your content comes front and center. That’s true even with the design. The hardware engineers took a minimalist attitude with the Nexus 7. Other than the volume rocker, sleep/wake, headphone jack, and the micro USB port, there are no other knobs or buttons on the device. To make the buttons even more “invisible” they made sure that they’re located at the curved back portion of the silver frame tablet, effectively hiding them if you’re looking at the screen directly. By the way just to add on how minimalist they wanted to be, even the embossed Google and ASUS logos are almost not visible (they meld gracefully with the rubberized back).
Display has some issues but already good for the price
One of the criticisms made by a lot of tech blogs is that the Nexus 7 has an “inferior” display. In real world use the only problem we’ve encountered is when using it under sunlight. You have to turn it to full brightness for it to be useable mainly because of the reflective nature of the screen.
Other than that, the 7-inch IPS LCD is great! It has WXGA resolution and pixel density of 216. That’s pretty good given the much lower PPI of tablets in this price range and form factor. It’s also made of scratch-resistant Corning Glass.
Advantages of the 7-inch form factor
Like what I said at the start of this review, I wasn’t buying into the 7-inch form factor when I first heard about the Nexus 7. I was pretty happy with the 10-inch tablet that I’ve been using for the past few months. However it turns out there are key advantages to using a 7-inch tablet versus a 10-inch one.
Since it’s smaller and lighter the Nexus 7 was easier to bring out of the house. It easily slipped into whatever bag I brought with me and it doesn’t even take up too much space! It was also easier to whip out and use. If you need to type stuff you can actually just hold it in portrait and use your thumbs. If you want to read, play games, or browse the web, the arm fatigue is considerably less than 10-inch tablets due to the weight difference.
Because I ended up bringing it out of the house more and the flexibility of Android OS, the Nexus 7 lends itself to being a great productivity device, especially if you have the right apps. My personal favorite is the Executive Assistant+ app. It displays your agenda, tasks, e-mails, and even social updates all on your homescreen via a classy and organized widget. You can also use it as your lock screen. Sweet.
One of the smoothest Android tablets ever made
When it comes to the software, Google finally got it right with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Project Butter just works. Transitions and animations are much smoother especially if you’re coming from Android 3.0 Honeycomb. This is the first tablet I’ve owned that I constantly run live wallpapers on because even with it the tablet doesn’t stutter or lag (unless I turn on a bunch of apps all at the same time).
Here’s a short video of us playing around with the Nexus 7 to show how smooth the experience is:
The quad-core Tegra processor and 1GB RAM also can turn this into a mean gaming machine. I’ve never seen Dead Trigger run so well on a device! I actually keep scouring Google Play for more graphics-intensive games, haha! I ended up downloading a couple, namely Asphalt 7, Shadowgun, and The Dark Knight Rises. All of them ran smoothly on the Nexus 7.
Again let’s just pause a bit and remember that this is just a $200 device. Awesomeness.
Google Now: Is it any good?
Google Now is supposed to be Android’s answer to Siri. They tried to take it a step further though by adding a predictive feature. Here’s how it’s supposed to work:
Does it work in the Philippines? Just like any other voice activated system, it’s just not reliable. It looks good on video but in real life use you will rarely enjoy the benefits of Google Now here in the Philippines. Here’s a short video of us playing around with Google Now.
You’re just gimped at 8GB. 16GB is okay but still lacking
It’s not all good news though. The Nexus 7 has serious storage issues. If you get the 8GB model, you actually get to use only 5GB-5.5GB of that. That will barely be enough for your movies, songs, and games. If you want to make the most out of the Nexus 7, you have to be very conscious about what you put in it.
To address this, Google announced that they would be putting more content in Google Play for streaming. However here’s one problem about that…
Google Play in the PH doesn’t offer movies and music.
I’m sure there are workarounds available for this but not everyone has the patience and will power to do them. That said you just have to be wise with the content and apps that you load to this tablet. If you’re not using something anymore just take it out so you have more storage.
No rear-facing camera
One thing noticeably missing on the Nexus 7 is a rear-facing camera. However there are only a few people who actually take photos and videos using their tablets. There’s a front-facing camera for video conferencing though which I think is the main purpose of cameras on tablets.
Everything taken into consideration, the Google Nexus 7 is probably one of the best 7-inch Android tablets in the market today. The quad-core tegra processor and Project Butter just makes the Android tablet experience complete. It’s much much much better than the crappy Honeycomb experience. This device screams value for money from the inside out so if you’re in the market for a 7-inch tablet, be sure to look this one up. If Google actually came out with this shortly after the iPad launched I’m sure that the tablet market landscape today would be much different than what it is now (dominated by the iPad).
If ever you do get one just be mindful of how you use the storage. That’s the only major downside but I’m sure you can find a workaround especially with the surge of Cloud storage.
Pricing and Availability
It’s not yet officially available here in the Philippines but if you want to get one hassle free, check out Widget City. It’s priced at Php13,500 there mainly because of the shipping costs and taxes.