Amazon Kindle Fire
Amazon Kindle Fire HD
Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9
Amazon Kindle Keyboard 3G
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Amazon Kindle Touch
Apple iPad 2
Apple iPad 3
Apple iPad 4
Apple iPad Mini
Barnes & Noble Nook HD
Google Nexus 7
Google Nexus 10
Microsoft Surface RT
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Vodafone Smart Tab II 7
Google Nexus 7 Review
Even though we've seen a ton of Android tablets in the past two years, the Nexus 7 is the first Google-branded tablet to appear. Or should that be Asus-branded? Whether you call it the Asus Nexus 7 (which is technically correct) or the Google Nexus 7 (which sounds cooler), this is probably the hottest tablet around that isn't called "Apple".
The Nexus 7 looks very much like a big phone. Its screen is about twice the size of a large-screened phone like the 4.8 inch Samsung Galaxy S3, and it weighs about three times as much as the S3. That makes it too big for a pocket, but much more portable than a full-sized tablet like the iPad. Perhaps surprisingly though, it's not as slim as the iPad, although at 10.45mm it's not exactly bulky. 7 inches is a big enough screen to do a lot with, but at times may feel cramped. If you plan to do a lot of work or some serious gaming/video play, then you should opt for a 10-incher like the iPad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. But for those who are prepared to live with the constraints of a 7 inch screen, the portability advantages are significant.
It may have only 7 inches of screen to offer, but it's a sharp and colourful screen. 1280 x 800 pixels (216 ppi) may not come anywhere close to the new iPad's Retina display, but it's more than HD and that's pretty good in our book. Being HD means that you can watch HD video and even watch YouTube in HD.
Because this is a Google-branded tablet, it ought to have the very latest version of Android installed, and thankfully it does. Yes, Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) is here, offering a little bit of tinkering with the home screen and some new notifications. Is that all, you ask? Well, not quite, because Google Play (formerly Android Market) now offers 4 million ebooks, HD movies and videos, and over 600,000 apps and games to download. Android comes packed with all Google-flavoured things, including gmail, Google Maps, Google+ and the super-fast Chrome web browser. There's no flash support on Chrome, but there's a youtube app and other ways to access video online.
The other feature that's new with Jelly Bean is Google Now. Google Now is a kind of personal assistant that tries to mimic an awfully discreet butler. It brings you things you didn't know you wanted and tells you the answers to questions even before you've asked them. For instance, cards may appear telling you what the weather is doing or what the traffic is like on the way home. It can even tell you when the next train is arriving when you're waiting at the station. If you don't mind the slightly sinister feeling that you're being watched, this can be a mildly useful feature.
Now, perhaps the area where the Nexus 7 excels is in performance. With a quad-core Tegra 3 processor plus a 12-core GPU and a full gigabyte of RAM, this is the Usain Bolt of the tablet world. What to do with all this speed? Well, it's handy for web browsing or browsing maps, but what this kind of power is really for is gaming. But while there are some great games around for Android tablets, there aren't many that actually necessitate the kind of power that the Tegra 3 offers, nor are there any that look better on a 7 inch screen than a 10 inch.
We've previously criticised the cameras that are fitted to tablets for being (a) not always very good and (b) pointless, because who's ever going to take a picture with a large slab of plastic? Well, the Nexus neatly sidesteps this problem by not having a camera. Or rather, it has just a front-facing camera - the kind that is normally referred to as a "second" camera - which you can use for self-portraits or video chat. We think that's a sensible choice.
When it comes to connectivity, the Nexus 7 has the usual Wi-fi, Bluetooth, and micro USB capabilities, plus NFC as a bonus. But still, there's something missing. What can it be? Ah, yes, it's the old-fashioned 3G network connection. So, you don't need to worry about a phone contract or trying to download data over a grindingly slow mobile broadband network. But on the other hand, if you're not in a Wi-Fi zone, then you're completely stuck. We think that missing out this basic feature limits the functionality of the device and will limit its appeal. Remember that Jelly Bean's big new feature, Google Now, won't work if you're not connected to the internet.
Google's blurb for the Nexus 7 invites us to think about battery life in terms of chapters read and movies watched. That's probably because if you think about battery life in terms of the 4325mAh battery capacity, the Nexus 7 doesn't have anything like the capacity of the competition. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a 7000mAh battery, and the new iPad's is even bigger. Anyway, you can watch somthing like 10 hours of movies before your Nexus 7 dies, which is quite respectable.
We thought we were going to love the Nexus 7. Judging by comments on the web, a lot of people do. Sure it's got a lot to like - a compact lightweight build, the delights of Jelly Bean, a nice though compact display and insanely fast processing power. But the downsides? The cramped display, the lack of anything to really use that Tegra 3 processor for, the lack of a microSD card slot, the lack of 3G. And of course, the fact that you can do much more with an iPad. Even an iPad 2. We know it costs less, so if you won't miss the 3G, and if 7 inches is the right sized tablet for you, and if you prefer Jelly Bean to iOS 5, then sure, go for it.
Update (October 2012): The price has now fallen to £159, and that makes the Nexus 7 much better value. We've upgraded our rating from 3 stars to 4 stars to reflect this. It's the same price as the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and a lot cheaper than the new iPad Mini.
Features of the Google Nexus 7 include:
Google Nexus 7 User Reviews
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Average rating from 6 reviews:
Reviewed by Tris from UK on 14th Apr 2013
Reply by Tris from UK on 16th Apr
Reviewed by NCR from UK on 7th Jan 2013
Reviewed by Ben from uk on 6th Jan 2013
Reviewed by Karen from UK on 2nd Jan 2013
Reviewed by JOBS from UK on 10th Oct 2012
Reviewed by Yasser Abbass from UK on 19th Sep
Reply by Mark from UK on 6th Apr 2013