Product Type: Google Tablet PCs / eBook Readers
Newest Review: ... and its user friendly navigation icons. The Nexus 7 has managed to outcompete the iPad mini in terms of portability, with a slightl... more
Bigger isn't always better
Google Nexus 7
Member Name: jipp05
Google Nexus 7
Advantages: Size, screen, apps, price
Disadvantages: No back camera, limited storage
When the Google Nexus 7 was released I was so close to buying one as I thought it would be a better size for me to travel with but in the end my more sensible head came on and I told myself that I just couldn't justify spending any more money on a tablet when I already had the best tablet money could buy.
Once I had decided this it was pretty much forgotten about although I still got a little gadget envy when I saw someone on the train with one when one day there was a ring at the bell and it was the post man with a delivery for me. Not remembering ordering anything I was curious and was absolutely thrilled to find a brand spanking new Nexus 7 that I had won in a competition that I had forgotten even entering.
Originally I had my practical head on and was going to ebay it as I told myself I didn't really need it but after having it a few weeks I can honestly say that other than my phone it is the gadget I use most often in my house and have no intention of not keeping it.
~~~~~~~~~~ Hardwear, build and specs ~~~~~~~~~~
The Google Nexus 7 is a 7 inch tablet that is from Google although they do not actually make the tablet as it is manufactured by Asus on behalf of Google. The design is pretty uninspiring to be honest and it is just rectangular slab with glass covering the entire front and a plastic back which is slightly rubberised to make it easier to hold and keep a grip of without it slipping through your fingers.
It comes with either 8 or 16GB of onboard storage and the one that I have is the 16GB one. There is no option for upping the storage such as with a micro SD card so you are stuck with what is there which isn't actually the whole 16GB as a lot of that memory is taken up with essential apps and the operating system. You do get 5 GB for free of cloud storage when you set up Google cloud storage on the nexus 7 and it is relatively free to buy some more but this does mean you will need to be able to access a WIFI connection to be able to access your files.
The innards of the Nexus 7 make it quite a powerful beast. It has a quad core Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM. This makes everything really snappy and speedy on the Nexus 7 and you will find that it can handle multi tasking and graphic intensive games with no lag or stuttering.
The dimensions of the Nexus 7 are 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm which means it is small enough to be able to held in one hand. It also only weighs 340 grams so it is light enough to hold for prolonged periods of time without becoming uncomfortable.
~~~~~~~~~~ Apps ~~~~~~~~~~
Most people buying a tablet will wonder about what apps are available for it as this is one of the primary functions of a tablet device. Apps are purchased for the Google Play store and there is an app already for the shop pre-installed on the Nexus 7. The amount of apps in the Google Play store is fairly decent and there are hundreds of thousands available. Obviously the majority of these apps are rubbish but there are some excellent ones and all the main ones that people use on a regular basis are available.
The biggest problem with the Google Play store is that it is less easy to navigate than the iTunes store and finding those quality apps takes a bit more time. Also the amount of Android apps that are designed for tablets is nowhere near as good as those for the iPad but in the few weeks I have had my Nexus things are already improving and there are new tablet optimized apps showing up all the time.
One of the best things about setting up your Google Play account is that Google give you a free £15 to spend on apps.
I ended up buying a couple of books with my money and a load of games and apps that were on special offer. I really think that this £15 is a fantastic introductionory gift for new owners purchasing a Nexus 7.
The Nexus 7 comes with some really good preinstalled apps my favourite being Google earth and maps as these have been optimised for the Nexus 7 and Google earth especially looks stunning on the tablet.
As well as apps you can also purchase books and movies although the films on the Play store can only be rented at this time and not bought.
Although the selection is not quite as exhaustive as on the iTunes store there are still more than enough to choose from and you should have no trouble filling up your 7 homescreens.
~~~~~~~~~~ Media ~~~~~~~~~~
Media really is where the Nexus 7 excels. The size of the tablet makes it much easier to take with you on the train and as it is much lighter and smaller it is so much easier to use for prolonged periods of time. Plus it is much more inconspicuous than an iPad so you can watch something on it without the whole train being able to see what it is that you are watching.
I tend to fill my Nexus up with half hour sitcoms rather than HD movies as I think these are easier to dip in and out of on the train. Getting them on the Nexus is simple and you just plug the USB cable to your computer and then drag and drop the files onto the Nexus. The onboard media player is fairly decent and can play a large selection of files but I also downloaded another media player from the Play store which can support nearly every file so I have never encountered a movie file it cannot handle yet.
The screen is gorgeous and is really bright and vivid and TV shows and movies look amazing on it. The viewing angles are also excellent and I don't have to spend ages adjusting the screen to be able to see it properly. The screen is 1200 x 800 and is high definition and this really does show on the screen.
Volume levels are also great and I have yet to put on something and have trouble hearing it properly.
The native book reading app is excellent and I enjoy using it BUT you can only use it to read books which you have purchased from the Play store. This is fine but I have tons of my own books on my computer so I needed to download a third party book reading app to be able to do this. I chose kindle as I already have an account with them and I can also add my own books to the app. I was initially worried that my eyes wouldn't like reading from a lit screen but to be honest it isn't really a problem and I have adjusted the settings so that the screen automatically dims whenever I open the Kindle app.
Games looks absolutely spectacular on the Nexus 7. Of course there are the usual games everyone has like angry birds and temple run and while these are fun they don't nearly make the most of the power on offer. The best way to do this is to download games that are designed especially for devices with Tegra 3 quad processors and marvel at the graphics which are easily as good as most consoles. I enjoy playing games on the tablet and although they do look stunning I am still not 100% convinced that touchscreen is the best way to enjoy them. The touchscreen controls are usually really good but I just don't find them to be completely intuitive.
There are also hundreds of music players to choose from at the Play store but for me I find that the onboard music store handles everything well enough for my liking. The biggest surprise for me was just how well this sounds. The sound is fantastic and isn't tinny and echoey. Even without headphones in the Nexus 7 sounds decent enough. Obviously it will never replace a proper set of speakers but for listening to some music while you are in the bath it is fine.
~~~~~~~~~~ Internet ~~~~~~~~~~
Other than media one of the main things that I tend to use my Nexus for is browsing the internet. For this I use the Google Chrome app that came preinstalled as I find that this more or less fits my needs. I use Google Chrome on my computer and anyone else who uses this at home will know what to do as it is almost identical.
The internet works really well and is quite fast and web pages load and render speedily and because of the excellent screen they also look great.
Obviously because of the fact that the Nexus 7 has less screen than the iPad I do find myself having to zoom occasionally but to be honest considering the smaller screen this doesn't happen as much as I thought it would as most of the writing is so sharp that it can be seen clearly without having to zoom too often.
Again for those who would prefer another browser such as Firefox these can be found on the Play store.
~~~~~~~~~~ Battery life ~~~~~~~~~~
By far the nicest surprise of the Nexus 7 was the battery. In reviews they say that the battery will last for 8 hours of active use. I find that this is wildly underestimated. Perhaps this is true if you are watching HD videos on a loop for 8 hours at a time but for most people the battery will last a lot longer than this.
I find that when my Nexus is fully charged and with using it everyday for a couple of hours at a time to read a book, watch a half hour sitcom, play a game for 10 minutes or so on the train or just browse the internet while watching TV I can get 5 to 7 days of use before it completely dies on me. Obviously I would recommend that you charge it more often but to be honest I am useless at remembering to charge anything so I have been really pleased with the fact the battery allows me to do this.
~~~~~~~~~~ Disappointments ~~~~~~~~~~
Although there is nothing about the Nexus 7 that I think is a deal breaker there are a couple of things which I think could be improved upon.
The main one is a camera. It has a front facing camera for Skype calls but I really do think that it could have done with a back camera too. On something like the iPad the back camera is pretty much a useless extra as the iPad in my opinion is just too big to use to take pictures practically however with the Nexus being a smaller more practical size for carrying around a back camera would actually have come in handy.
The second thing is that I really do think that the Nexus 7 would have benefited from more storage as I have mentioned. Yes you can store everything in the cloud and just download everything that you want when you want it but let's be honest having finding a WIFI connection in the UK can still be tricky sometimes in certain areas even in 2012 and anyway I personally like having all my content to hand whenever I want it.
Talking of WIFI that's another small thing that bothers me about the Nexus 7. The tablet only comes in WIFI and there is no 3G option at least not yet although I read that Google are bringing one out this month. With the iPad I only wanted WIFI as I knew I would only be using it in the house but with the convenient travel size of this I would have like the option of getting one with a 3G connection. These are only very minor niggles that I have and they certainly aren't something which I would let put you off getting a Nexus 7 especially considering the price point which I will get to in a minute.
~~~~~~~~~~ Price ~~~~~~~~~~
The price of the Nexus 7 is frankly amazing especially considering that this isn't some cheap knockoff but is a genuinely powerful tablet packed to the gills with high tech components from a major manufacturer.
You can but an 8GB Nexus 7 for only £159 and the 16GB for only 189. I think this is an amazing price for this tablet but if I could offer one piece of advice it would be to wait a few weeks as Google are actually phasing out the 8GB tablet and are about to release a 32GB version imminently which will be the same price as the 16GB is now and the 16Gb will be the same price as the 8GB is.
~~~~~~~~~~ Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~
I would highly recommend the Nexus 7. I genuinely use mine all the time and if I am completely honest I actually prefer it to my iPad even though my iPad is flashier and fancier. This is just more practical and using it is a pleasure. It is really user friendly and simple to set up and use. There is no faffing about with any soft wear and you can be using it pretty much straight away out of the box.
Some people might just think this is a big phone and in some ways that is basically what it is but without the phone connection. For people who use an android phone now then this will all feel and look familiar and the apps are all the same but it is just so much better on a larger 7 inch screen than on a 4 inch one.
Summary: Bigger isn't always better
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