I won’t bore everyone with the unboxing photos, if you really want to see that, and have fun, check out Georges St Pierre as he unboxes his Nexus 7 and fights off ninjas who want to steal it..
Instead, let’s get into the actual device..
To sum it up really quickly, the Nexus 7 is running Android 4.1 aka Jelly Bean, and there have been some definite improvements over Ice Cream Sandwich, and major improvements over Honeycomb and Gingerbread.
I’ve had a few Android tablets, and before Ice Cream Sandwich, they always had this unfinished feel to them. Ice Cream Sandwich improved that, and now Jelly Bean has amped that up even more.
Inside the Nexus 7, you’ll find a quad-core Tegra 3 CPU clocked to 1.15 GHz on four cores (or 1.3 GHz when running on just one), 1GB of RAM, and 8GB or 16GB of onboard storage. One interesting thing, is that just like the Galaxy Nexus phone, there is no microSD slot here. The tablet also packs in Bluetooth 4.0m, Wifi 802.11b/g/n, and has a GPS chip, NFC, gyroscope, compass and accelerometer.
There is also a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera, as well as a speaker embedded around the back of the device, and a built-in microphone.
The camera is really only meant for Google+ Hangouts, and skype calls, but it does the job and does it well. To make sure you get the message that you shouldn’t take pictures on a tablet, Google has left out the camera app, thought you can find third-party apps on the play store and make it work, but most of the popular camera apps don’t even show up to install.
If you do need a camera app for some reason, the Camera Launcher for Nexus 7 is a free app that launches the usual native camera app.
The Nexus 7 has a 1280 x 800 LCD display, and has a 216 ppi. Text and images look crisp and clear and colors looked nice. Viewing angles are good, no issues like you have with some other tablets like the Acer A100.
It’s not retina quality, but it’s close, and it looks good.
Performance is fast. The Tegra 3 chipset is fast, and Google spent a lot of time working on Jelly Bean to improve touch response and smoothness in Android. Apps are quick to open and close, and speedy to use. Gaming looked nice and held steady frame rates, and basic tasks like multitasking were nearly instaneous.
So far, the battery’s been pretty stable. I got all day out of a fully charged device with consitant usage. Mileage will obviously vary when gaming, watching video and using more CPU-intensive apps, but for the most part, the battery is about what you would expect from a tablet.
The big draw to the Nexus 7 isn’t just the price, it’s also Jelly Bean. Google has made huge leaps forward in usability and design with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) last year, and Jelly Bean continues this advancement with more refinements to the OS.
Jelly Bean has a higher frame rate for screen animations and movement than any previous version of the software, which combined with improved finger tracking, more accurate and natural touches help make the tablet much more responsive.
I noticed improvements thoughout the OS, for example, the app selection dialog that lets you pick a handler for specific tasks is more visual now, and notifications have undergone a big change, with popups now being both actionable and expandable.
I also love the keyboard shortcuts you can create in your personal dictionary, as well as the keyboard itself getting an overhaul on the back end, with a better predictive text system and a new algorithm that will learn and adapt the more you type.
One big change is the browser. Before, you used an app called “Browser”, this has now been replaced by Chome for Android, which performs beautifully and has several nice features such as syncing with your Google account and tabs that stand out as highlights. I also found it fast for web browsing.
Jelly Bean and Chrome have also dropped Flash support, which Adobe had announced a year earlier they would stop supporting.
Probably the biggest and most important change in Jelly Bean is Google Now – a big step in natural search. Google Now works similar to Siri at first glance, but it goes much deeper than just voice recognition and AI. It actuall learns what you do through searching and starts to find patterns. After a while, it even starts to give you information before you even ask for it, such as weather updates when you leave your house.
One nice thing with Google Now is that it already has a lot of support for Canada so it can tell me where to find sushi near my house compared to Siri that keeps telling me it can’t due to me being in Canada. And yes, I know iOS 6 promises to include support for Canada, but Google Now has it now!
Google’s Nexus 7 is a great tablet. Between the price point of $200, combined with its features, it’s something I can recommend to anyone interested in a tablet without even blinking.
Here are the tech specs for those who like to see a breakdown of everything:
- 7” 1280×800 HD display (216 ppi)
- Back-lit IPS display
- Scratch-resistant Corning glass
- 1.2MP front-facing camera
- 8 GB or 16 GB internal storage
- 1 GB RAM
- 4325 mAh (Up to 8 hours of active use)
- Quad-core Tegra 3 processor
- 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- Micro USB
- Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)