Google Nexus 7 (2012 edition) review [updated]
We review the affordable, ultra-powerful first-generation Google Nexus 7 (2012 edition) tablet to see what all the fuss is about
If you wanted a decent tablet experience between 2010 and late-2011 there was only one real option: Apple's iPad. Despite persistent attempts from Google and its partners, Android has failed to give Apple any real trouble in the tablet space.
Android's first whiff of success came with the Amazon Kindle Fire, which featured a heavily modified version of Gingerbread, lots of content options and some relatively decent hardware.
Priced at under $200 in the US, Amazon's slate sold well initially and by Q1 of 2012 it represented over half of the US Android tablet market, illustrating that consumers would gamble on a new slate, particularly if it was priced correctly - i.e. less than $200.
Google took this idea one step further with its Nexus 7, adding a faster quad core processor, 1GB of RAM and a high definition IPS display. The result is one of the strongest debut devices we've seen in quite some time.
Now we have the Nexus 7 2, dubbed 2013 edition with extra features including Android 4.3, a 7-inch 1200x1920 pixel display with a truly pin-sharp pixel density of 323ppi. It will be powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Pro chipset and also features 2GB of RAM and storage options of 16GB and 32GB. Google has also added in two cameras: a 5-megapixel setup on the back and a 1.2-megapixel on the front.
But don't let that deter you from checking out the original Nexus 7 - the price will most probably be reduced when the 2013 version is released and it's still a pretty damn good piece of hardware.
Nexus 7 (2012 edition): Aesthetics
With its expertly crafted chassis, rubberized back panel and metallic bezel, the Nexus 7 looks anything but a budget device. It looks like it should cost quite a lot more. Boot up the Nexus 7 and it still looks like a quality piece of kit with its detailed IPS panel and silky user-interface (UI).
The exact dimensions of the Nexus 7 are 198.5x120x10.45mm and it weighs 340g, making it 20 per cent lighter than Amazon's Kindle Fire. The overall design of the device is of a similar quality to what we've seen from Samsung and RIM with their respective offerings, which cost considerably more.
There's a power/unlock key and volume rocker along the top right hand side with a 3.5mm jack and microUSB along the bottom. Nothing about the Nexus 7's design screams innovation. Instead Google has gone for simplicity - clean lines, conservative proportions - and the results are impressive.
After using the Nexus 7 for a year, the device still looks as good as new, despite it being taken all around the world and (mostly) used as an ereader and gaming device.
Sure, the Nexus 7 2013 loses the dimpled back and the screen is amazing, but the original Nexus 7 will do just fine for us!
Nexus 7 (2012 edition): Display
A pixel density of 216ppi and a display resolution of 1280x800 pixels is not usually something you expect to see on a sub-£200, but that's exactly what you find on the Nexus 7. Colours and text look sharp making it ideal for browsing the web, reading ebooks and gaming.
It does lack the vivacity of current SLCD and Super AMOLED displays and is no way near the standard of the Retina Display present on Apple's iPad 3. But for what it is - a £160, entry-level tablet - the Nexus 7's IPS setup is far beyond anything currently available at this price-point - apart from the Nexus 7 2013 edition, that is.
|Typical Price||£159 (8GB), £199 (16GB)|
|UK Launch||July, 2012|
|Built-in Memory||8GB / 16GB|
|Additional Memory||N/A, no expandable memory card slot|
|High-speed Data||N/A, WiFi only|
|Screen Size||7-inches, 1280x800 pixels (216ppi)|
|Screen Colours||16 million|
|Designer Lens||Front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera|
|Video Resolution||720p@30 frames-per-second|
|Song Storage||8GB / 16GB|