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Google Nexus 7 Review



  • Good screen
  • Speedy performance
  • Handy form
  • Textured rear avoids plasticky feel


  • Still no Google Music in UK
  • Non-expandable memory
  • Native video support limited

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £199.00
  • 7in 1280 x 800 IPS screen with Corning glass protection
  • Tegra 3 quad-core SoC, 1GB RAM
  • 8GB/16GB of storage
  • NFC, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi N, USB
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

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The Google Nexus 7 has been around for a year now. It revolutionised the way people thought about tablets and the size they should be. Dominated by 10-inch tablets, and specifically Apple’s iPad, the tablet market was littered with poor quality Android tablets made by companies you’ve never heard of, or some rather expensive offerings from some you had.

The Nexus 7 changed the tablet landscape entirely. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean provided a great user experience and the device itself packed a quality screen with good build quality at an astonishing price. An 8GB Nexus 7 cost just £159 while the 16GB model cost £199. A year has passed and you can now get the 16GB model for £159, while a 32GB Nexus 7 has also become available costing £199.

It was also the device that kickstarted the smaller tablet revolution. 7 inch tablets had not done well. The BlackBerry
PlayBook flopped. HTC Flyer? Disaster. Acer Iconia A100? No-one’s even
heard of the thing. The Nexus 7 managed to shift people’s opinions of what a 7-inch tablet should be. It also threatened Apple enough to get it to created its smaller version of the iPad, the iPad mini.

We were so impressed by the Asus-built Nexus 7 that it won TrustedReviews “Product of the Year 2012” award, voted for by the public and our panel of experts. 

Let’s find out what makes the Nexus 7 a cut above.

Google Nexus 7 Video Review

Want to see more of the Google Nexus 7? Sit back and watch our video.

Google Nexus 7 Design and Specs

The Google Nexus 7 tablet reportedly only took four months to get from original concept to final design. You can bet the iPad mini has had a lot more man hours pumped into it, but this tablet does not feel like a rush job.
Google Nexus 7 10
Made by Asus, the Nexus 7 takes a few pointers from the company’s Transformer range of tablets. In particular, the brown/black rear and its textured rubberised plastic finish wouldn’t look at all out of place as part of that series.

Splashed with the Nexus and Asus logos, the Google Nexus 7 tablet is not quite an Apple-grade thing of beauty, but the dotted rear makes it feel almost leather-bound, rather than encased in plastic, as it actually is. The front is topped with Gorilla Glass.
Google Nexus 7 12

One of the best things about a smaller tablet like the Nexus 7 is that you can hold it out in public, in one hand or two, standing or seated, without feeling as ridiculous as you would holding a larger dinner plate. We’ve always felt a little ridiculous wielding a 10.1 inch Android tablet on the train. A comparatively petite, elongated paperback in shape, the Google Nexus 7 tablet is the perfect size for the purpose. It’s slim too – 10.5mm
Google Nexus 7 9
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (left) and the Google Nexus 7

At 325g, the Google Nexus 7 tablet is a little lighter than some of  its current 7 inch rivals, such as the 425g BlackBerry PlayBook and 344g Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. This sort of weight makes it possible to use comfortably one-handed, but if you’re used to the feather-light body of a Kindle, it will feel a little heavy.

So far, so what, right? The Google Nexus 7 is a portable tablet made to a similar standard as we’ve seen in the past. However, what’s special about this tab is that it packs-in specs that just a few months ago you’d have seen in devices twice the price. It offers a quad-core 1.3GHz Tegra processor, the 800 x 1,280 pixel resolution that was until recently the standard for larger 10.1in tablets, and all the Google software bells and whistles that are often left out of budget tablets. What’s not to like?

Google Nexus 7 Connectivity

Aside from lacking the cool-feeling metal finish of Apple’s tablets and iPods, we have no complaints about the Google Nexus 7’s build. However, its connectivity is pretty limited.
Google Nexus 7 11
On its bottom edge are the microUSB slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack. That’s your lot, in terms of sockets. Memory is non-expandable, with 8GB (£159) and 16GB (£199) versions available at present. There’s also no access to the battery.

Not being able to jam in a memory card is one win the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 can claim over the Nexus 7, but using a microUSB for both charging and data transfer earns the Google tablet back some points. Most Android tablets from big names use proprietary connectors. Plug the Nexus 7 tablet into a computer using a standard microUSB cable and it’ll start charging and its internal memory will show up as a media device, allowing drag and drop copying of files. However, it’s not an MHL-compliant port, so the microUSB won’t double as a video output.

The Google Nexus 7 has already caught a lot of flak among long-term Android fans for its lack of expandable memory, but it retains much of the versatility of any other Android device. You can still install programmes downloaded from here, there and everywhere and you’re not tied to an iTunes-like piece of software to get media onto the tablet. Using a simple (we’ll keep you posted with step by step instructions on how to do this) root and app-based workaround you can use the microUSB to connect to powered external hard drives too – although it’s not a standard feature as it is in some other Android tabs. You can plug in keyboards and mice without rooting, though.

The one other notable Google Nexus 7 omission is a rear camera. Although many other Google Android tablets offer one, it’s no great loss when they tend to be of low quality, and half-decent smartphones are much better-suited to the task anyway.

Wireless connectivity fares much better than the cabled kind. Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and NFC all feature. The latter in particular is a rarity in tablets. There’s no 3G model available as yet, but adding it would also bump-up the price significantly.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Some say the Google Nexus 7 tablet is here to combat the iPad mini. Others say
it’s to fend-off competition from the Amazon Kindle Fire 2. However,
either way it is also here to showcase Android 4.1 Jelly Bean – this is
to be the only Google tablet to officially use the OS for the next few months.

its predecessor Ice Cream Sandwich, version 4.1 Jelly Bean is not an
earth-shattering change for the three-year-old operating system, but
there are some significant improvements. The most important is what
Google calls “project butter”. This is intended to finally get Android
up to speed – previous versions have been laggier and buggier than the
comparable platforms from Apple and Microsoft, iOS and Windows Phone. Google Nexus 7 3

is now employed in the OS, and it’s designed to run at a solid 60fps.
With a quad-core Tegra 3 1.3GHz processor to call upon, the Google Nexus
7 makes every other tablet at the price look slow. Flicking around the
system’s menus at top speed, you have to try pretty hard to make the tablet
drop frames.

Aside from the speed increase, Android Jelly Bean
looks and feels similar to Ice Cream Sandwich. A simplified three-icon
nav bar sits at the bottom of the screen, home to Back, Home and Recent
Apps buttons, and a seven-icon app shortcut dock sits just above. A neat
notifications bar is dragged from the top of screen and the discreet
universal search bar sits at the top of each home screen. Type or talk a
search term and the Google Nexus 7 tablet will search through your contacts, apps and
– if necessary – the web to find results.
Google Nexus 7 5
The Google Nexus 7’s take on Siri

recognition has also been updated on Google’s tablet to make it far more powerful than
before, to compete with Apple’s Siri.

search uses the Wi-Fi connection to pipe anything you say over to the
Google servers for analysis. Without 3G connectivity, this makes the
feature largely useless when out and about, but with a connection to
call upon, it’s impressively accurate.

Web browsing

4.1 Jelly Bean changes the default system browser from stock Android to
Chrome, which was previously an optional download from the Google Play
app store. It’s not the prettiest browser interface in the world, but it
skilfully minimises the intrusion of its UI elements, giving over
maximum screen real estate to the webpage in question.
Google Nexus 7 6
neat features include integration of voice search into the standard
search bar and a deep-rooted “incognito” mode. HTML5 support is good
too, although there’s little recognition of when a keyboard is needed in
HTML5 games. Some work is left to be done, but it’s getting there.

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