Google Nexus 7 review: Catching Fire

GSMArena team, 15 August 2012.
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Introduction

Google's Nexus line has welcomed its first tablet, the Nexus 7. With a promise of solid specs for a low price, the ASUS-made tablet is poised to storm the Android tablet market and maybe even steal a chunk of Apple iPad's market share.

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Google Nexus 7 tablet by ASUS

The Nexus 7 is powered by one of the two chipsets at the heart of current flagship phones and tablets - NVIDIA's Tegra 3. You get a quad-core CPU and good graphics muscle at a time when the only quad-core tablets around are pricy 10" models.

The 7" screen might be a compromise to some, but others will see an advantage in the excellent portability. 7" tablets fit in a coat pocket or purse. Plus, WXGA resolution and 216ppi pixel density sound more than reasonable. For comparison's sake, an Amazon Kindle Fire offers 170ppi, and even the new iPad isn't too far ahead with its 264ppi.

Some corners had to be cut to get a quality product at Google's intended price point. Here's the summary of what ASUS and Google offer for $200/$250.

Key features

  • 7" 16M-color IPS TFT capacitive touchscreen of WXGA resolution (1280 x 800 pixels), scratch-resistant Corning glass
  • NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset: quad-core 1.2GHz (1.3GHz in single-core mode) ARM Cortex-A9 processor; 1GB of RAM; ULP GeForce GPU
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • 8/16 GB of built-in memory
  • 1.2 MP front-facing camera
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Bluetooth; Android Beam
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • GPS with A-GPS support; digital compass
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor, gyroscope sensor
  • 4325 mAh Li-Po battery
  • Incredibly attractive pricing

Main disadvantages

  • The screen is a bit washed out and has poor sunlight legibility
  • Non-expandable memory
  • No USB mass storage or TV-out
  • No mobile data-enabled version
  • Front-facing camera only
  • Disappointing audio output

The Nexus 7 sure has its downsides, but it makes a killer tablet for web browsing, email or gaming. With the Samsung Galaxy Nexus price set at $350 (one of the cheapest dual-core droids, especially considering the screen size and resolution), it looks like Google's Nexus line has transformed from developer-oriented devices to some of the best Android buys.

But there's more to it than just bang for the buck - a Nexus gadget is a ticket to fast updates to the latest Android OS, an untouched Android at that (some don't really like vendor skins) and a great developer community pushing the gadgets beyond what Google had in mind for them.

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Nexus 7 tablet at ours

So, is smart money on the Nexus 7 tablet or were there too many corners cut to make the price? Is the Kindle Fire shaking in its boots?

The specs look promising despite a few stinging omissions, but it's now for our tests to answer those questions. The trials start on the next page.

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