Lost in the glory of Google Glasses, the company’s first Android tablet, the Nexus 7, is likely the best Android tablet on the market. Google was clearly aiming to put out Amazon’s Fire, creating a device that is superior to both the Amazon Fire and Nook Tablet. Arguably, the Nexus 7 is superior to larger, pricier competitors such as the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity.
Taking from Amazon’s playbook, Google priced the Nexus 7 at $199, a steal for what you get. Unlike the Fire, the Nexus 7 doesn’t look or feel cheap. You’re getting the same, if not better, Android experience than you would on a device that costs twice as much. Google drew a fine line between portability, functionality, and style. Like most tablets, even the iPad, the Nexus 7 is designed for media consumption.
Coming direct from Google, the best part about the Nexus 7 is that it doesn’t contain extra bloatware. You’re getting a vanilla version of Android 4.1, dubbed Jelly Bean. Fortunately, Google partnered with Asus to build the device, after their original fiasco with the Nexus phone. As expected, the device truly “gets” Android and the connection is seamless.
You’re not going to find fancy aluminum or magnesium on the Nexus 7, as the tablet features a more practical rubberized back, which some reviewers mistook for leather. At just 12 ounces, it’s lighter than the Kindle Fire, but it’s by no means the slimmest tablet. Once you start gazing into the 1,280 x 800 IPS LCD display with Corning’s Gorilla Glass, you’ll forget the device is even in your hands.
As part of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google introduces Project Butter, which is a much needed UI overhaul and upgrade. Notably, animations are much smoother at 60 frames per second. The overall tablet experience feels fluid compared to those choppy ICS tablets.
Furthermore, Butter predicts where you’re going to touch the screen and animates the experience accordingly. It’s always ready for your next move – nothing is a surprise. It’s not all Google’s engineering expertise, though. The quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor undoubtedly contributes to the Nexus 7’s speedy performance.
Surprisingly, Google’s own Nexus 7 tablet performed better than the leading Android tablets in terms of benchmarks. At $200, it’s hard to justify spending another $300 for a 10-inch screen. Under the hood, the Nexus 7 has the aforementioned Tegra 3 processor, IPS display, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of built in storage. You can upgrade it to 16 GB for an extra $50.
And that isn’t a bad idea, considering the Nexus 7 doesn’t support removable storage. Speaking of ports, you’ll have a hard time finding them on the Nexus 7! To keep the device’s girth, and presumably cost, down, there’s no Micro HDMI out. This isn’t surprising, given Google likely wants to promote their Q device, which uses NFC – not HDMI – to stream content to your TV.
The Nexus 7’s gorgeous IPS display is wonderful for viewing high definition videos. Their built in video player is fast, transparent, and unobtrusive. Downloading content from Google Play is intuitive, debatably as easy as iTunes on the iPad. Definitely leaps and bounds better than the Amazon Kindle media experience.
For the price, you cannot beat the Nexus 7 in terms of performance, design, and functionality. It’s a powerful device with an equally powerful operating system. It’s the first Android tablet designed with mainstream America in mind. While Android is still rough around the edges, it’s a tablet your parents could easily use. The same couldn’t of been said about the original Motorola Xoom.
The Nexus 7 may not have the sexiness of aluminum or a ridiculously pixel-rich screen, but it’s clearly the tablet for the masses. Samsung, Toshiba, and Acer will likely have a difficult time selling their slates at the $499 or $450 price. Now, start devising plans to pawn off your Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet so you can trade up.