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Thread: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

  1. #1
    WHERE IS GOD DennyCrane's Avatar
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    Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

    Google Nexus 7



    Android phones first hit the scene in 2008 with the G1. Compared to the venerable Windows Mobile and Blackberry platforms, and the new iPhone, Android was primitive to say the least. Slowly, and steadily, Android has grown to a full-fledged operating system. In February, 2011, not even a year and a half ago, the first true Android tablet was released. It was the Motorola Xoom and was the first device to see the Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system. Probably the best we can say about the original Xoom was that... it did the minimum that was expected of it. It had good specs- a dual core CPU, a gig of RAM, and a 720p screen. But, it was twitchy, laggy, and personally, I found it annoying. It was also thick, heavy, and amazingly, cost MORE than the Apple iPad. It was a recipe for disaster.

    Let's fast forward to 2012. Honeycomb is gone. It was replaced with a streamlined OS called Ice Cream Sandwich. Suddenly, older tablets started screaming the way we all wanted. But, that's still not 2012. Today, we have Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean". Using the Ice Cream Sandwich underpinnings, everything has been further refined and optimized. Google had "Project Butter" specifically deal with making the OS as smooth and lag-free as possible. And they succeeded. Introduced first on the Google Nexus 7, our first look at Jelly Bean is impressive. It's as smooth as was promised and finally can go toe-to-toe with iOS... and come out ahead in many areas.

    Google has had their own branded phones for years with varying degrees of success, and now they have their own tablet, the Nexus 7. Anything else you hear about this tablet falls secondary to this fact: This tablet was meant to beat the Amazon Kindle Fire. The Fire was the first true commercial success for any Android tablet. The problem was, it's barely recognizable as one. Most Google apps are gone or buried, there's no access to the Google Play app market, and the whole device is geared to get you to spend money at Amazon. Google makes no money on a platform like that, so enter the Nexus 7.

    The Nexus 7 is thinner, lighter, and has a better screen. The Fire has no camera, has a weaker processor, and what's essentially a modified phone operating system. The Nexus beats it in about every measurable category.

    Specifications:


    DIMENSIONS

    98.5 x 120 x 10.45 mm
    340g


    SCREEN


    IPS LCD
    1280x800 resolution
    Multitouch
    Corning scratch-resistant Glass

    PROCESSOR


    Quad Core Tegra 3- 4 cores @ 1.3Ghz, 1 low consumption core @ 500Mhz
    NVidia GeForce 12-core GPU

    MEMORY


    1gb RAM
    16gb internal (13.5gb useable)

    CAMERA


    1.2mp front camera with 720p video

    PORTS

    Headset
    Micro USB

    Battery


    4325mAh

    MISCELLANEOUS

    Bluetooth 4.0
    Stereo Speakers
    GPS
    WiFi 802.11 b, g, n, a
    Accelerometer

    The Nexus 7 is comfortable to hold and is light enough for extended reading in bed. The edges are rounded and the back has a rubber-like coating that makes for an easy grip. Remember- this is an Android e-reader first and all else secondary. The LCD screen is bright and has a good pixel density. Since e-reading is a primary function, I'll talk about that first. Like most Android devices, you get Play Books from Google. But, you can also get the Kindle and Nook apps as well, so you're not limited to one format. There's even other programs out there like Aldiko that are good for reading generic .pdf books, too. Turning the brightness down to about 75% gives a comfortable reading experience and the text is crisp in all the readers I've tried.

    OK, here's some downsides. It's designed to compete with the Fire and doesn't really try to go that far beyond it. You have a choice of 8gb or 16gb. That's not much storage in todays world. I suppose they're really trying to push cloud storage, but you're not always near a wifi hotspot. Worse, there's no micro-SDXC slot to expand your storage. Also lacking is the HDMI port that Android users have come to expect. It's really great to plug your phone or tablet into a TV at a hotel and watch your own media. Not happening on the Nexus 7. For some inexplicable reason, Google forces the tablet into portrait display mode at all times unless some app calls for a landscape view. Yes, even video and picture viewing. The camera? Front facing, and no app to take a picture. It's usable by most video calling programs- Google, Skype, etc, but you can't snap a picture. Not a big deal, but it is odd. Lastly, when really putting the Tegra 3 throug it's paces, the back does get very warm. Not hot, but warm enough for you to tell it's getting a workout.

    But the plusses... there are a lot. The device, manufactured for Google by Asus, feels very solid. No creaks or snaps, no flexing, it just feels solid. Integrated into the design is a smart cover feature- a magnet sensor that will shut off the screen when a "smart case" (that contains a small magnet at a strategic location) closes and turns it back on when the case opens. The video player is awkward in Portrait, so I don't use it. MX Player is fantastic and offers hardware and software acceleration. It plays all formats thrown at it. Anyway, video is crisp and without lag or stutter. Battery life is great. You'll average about 9+ hours and that should take you through a full days use and then some. The speakers are loud enough to hear without straining and the sound is decent for what it is. It sounds great through headphones. Gone is the old reliable Android Browser. Chrome is now the preferred web app. It's fast and integrates with your desktop settings, saved bookmarks, etc. Then, there's the wifi... I have NEVER seen reception this powerful on any device. I can go anywhere inside and stay connected... that's expected. What's more, I'm seeing strong signals I've never seen before. It's a little piece of terrific. And when tethered to my phone, gets the same great 4g speeds.



    Jelly Bean- It's very much a matured OS. Beyond the silky-smoothness, there's some great new features... some came with Ice Cream Sandwich, some with Jelly Bean. Face unlock has been refined. Originally, you could trick it by putting a picture in front of the camera. Now, there's the option for it to withold unlocking until it tells that you blinked! Google's Voice Search has advanced a great deal. Google's had voice input and search since 2009, and it's never been bad, but with all the press and ad revenue Apple's Siri has received, Google knew they had to step up their game. Google's voice search now answers in a very human, non-computerized voice. And the answers are literally twice as fast as Siri's. When it doesn't have an exact answer, like when there's a range of answers, it doesn't ask you if you want to search... it just gives you the results. Navigator has been updated with the same natural voice, too. And speaking of that, Google Maps now allows you to cache a pretty large area for offline mapping. Being it's a wifi-only device, this is extra handy.

    There's all sorts of throw-ins when you buy a Nexus 7. The biggest is $25 credit at the Google Play app market. In case you needed inspiration to gouge out your eyes and ears, they threw in a complimentary, punitive copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I guess if you're traveling with kids and they act up, you could force them to watch it instead of something good. They also threw in 20 complete songs in a variety of styles. Some recognizeable, some new and kinda neat, and some quickly eraseable rap songs.

    Benchmarks are great. The powerhouse CPU/GPU combination takes everything you throw at it in stride.




    So, what am I going to do with this thing? I have no idea. It's fun, it's a great size, but it's not for someone who wants a complete tablet experience. The lack of storage alone sees to that. At best, it will be a secondary device, but unlike a full-on tablet, you're going to rely on a smart phone more when you carry the Nexus 7 around. I'll take it to work and see how it is for wiring diagrams and flowcharts, so stay tuned. I'm either going to give it to my folks or make it an extended loan. Mom's somewhat Android-savvy, having had 2 Android slider smart phones. Dad's completely technophobic, so I want to see how he likes things like the NFL and ESPN apps. Regardless, they're going on a cruise along with a flight to Europe and back, so this will certainly help matters.

    So, it's a nice tablet in a great package. Not unlike the Apple ecosystem, if you're OK with the limitations of the environment, you'll have a great experience. If you want a fully expandable complete tablet experience, you might want to look at a Samsung Galaxy mini tablet instead. The Nexus 7 is priced at $199.99 for the 8gb version and $249.99 for the 16gb model. It's available at https://play.google.com/ and at retailers like GameStop, Sams Club, Staples, Office Max, and others. Availability is very limited now, but within a couple weeks everyone should be stocked up.


    Last edited by DennyCrane; 07-15-2012 at 10:01 PM.
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    Re: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

    solid. while this product may not satisfy the more hardcore technogeek segment, it appears it is right up the alley of your casual user.

    in january i bought my mom a kindle touch 3G that she tells me she has really taken to. having just recently moved back to the states she was asking me about my ipads and expressed interest in something with expanded functionality, basically a couch surfer she can use without having to turn to her full-size desktop. something like this could be what she is looking for.

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    Re: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

    Excellent review Denny

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    WHERE IS GOD DennyCrane's Avatar
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    Re: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

    Thanks.

    A couple small edits- first, there IS a setting (oddly in the notification bar) to allow screen rotation. You're still locked in portrait on your home screens, though, but that's not a huge deal. The big thing is, you can view media in landscape. Second, the tablets power supply really should be used. Most phone adapters are .5a, but the Nexus 7's is 2a. Using anything else will take a LONG time.

    Also, the Nexus 7 has received 2 updates so far. The first immediately brought it to 4.1.1 and was pretty big. Last night another pushed through, a very small patch. Good to see they're still working on things after release.
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    Re: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

    Very nice review Denny.

    Couple questions. Were there any interesting books included? And the more important one, how does the battery life compare to the numbers released so far?

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    Re: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

    They included The Bourne Dominion. Battery life seems to be good to the claims.....i.e. about 9 hours of mixed use.
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    Re: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

    Denny, did you run into unboxing problem?


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    Re: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

    Aaaand... it's gone. It's Mom's birthday, and at dinner, I brought up their trip to Europe and cruise in the Med this September. I asked about language barriers, how they'd get along when there wasn't a guide around, etc. Then I showed them Google Translate and how you could speak in English and it would speak Spanish. They were amazed. Then I asked about internet, calling home, etc... they didn't have an answer. Mom said she'd bring along her clunky POS HP netbook. So, I asked if they'd thought more about a tablet... hesitations, said not sure what to get, blah blah blah...

    That was when I pulled out the Nexus 7 and showed it to them. Showed them all the awesome features, they were amazed some more. Mom asked what I was going to do with my old tablet, I said I was keeping it. This was for her birthday and Dads.

    Boom.... skadoosh!

    I spent about 2 hours getting it all set up for them, including ESPN tied to their cable TV account, their Netflix (they're loving the idea of streaming schtuff), Mom's Nook... again, amazed that once she signed in, all the books she owned showing up... and downloading in a few seconds. Dad, who has the biggest case of technophobia known, was playing Angry Birds on the thing. Mom loves Zen Pinball. But, I got all their emails on it, got them up to speed on how to navigate around Jelly Bean, and I think we're good to go. I have 2 and a half months to fill in any details, so they should be set for their trip.

    Now, I want a 10" Google Nexus tablet with expandable memory, 1080p resolution, Jelly Bean, and all the other great Nexus 7 features.
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    WHERE IS GOD DennyCrane's Avatar
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    Re: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Tulkas View Post
    Denny, did you run into unboxing problem?
    lol, that's terrific.

    OK, I can easily see how that could torment people. I took a different tack, especially since I wasn't sure I was keeping it. The outer shell is like a Chinese finger handcuff. Try hard, it sticks. Lightly hold the outside and gently push the inner box and it slides right out. I didn't cut the tap, I simply peeled it back and when the lid was off, stuck it to the inside. But, like I said, I can see how people could have the same problem... I reassembled all the boxes along with the charger and the pamphlets, and did run into some trouble when I took it apart again... Trying too hard. lightly hold and press, out.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

    Tulkas, that's great and those are the people that do unboxing videos ad nauseam.

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