November 8, 2012

Is the Nexus 7 the Best 7-inch Tablet?


Google recently announced their latest additions to the Nexus family lineup.

With the upcoming holiday season (yes, Halloween is over so Christmas is fast approaching), I thought it would be a good time to check out some of the electronic offerings that will be hot ticket items this year. With the release of the iPad mini, I anticipate a renewed interest in 7-inch tablets.

Of course, there really has been no lull in interest in these tablets according to the sales figures. Estimates are that Amazon has sold in excess of five million Kindle Fires and Amazon has reported that it has captured 22% of the tablet market. Asus, the manufacturer of the Nexus 7 tablet, reported that sales of the Nexus 7 have climbed to approximately one million a month. This success is likely to only improve with the latest price drop on the 16 gig model.

The Nexus 7 has been around since the early summer months, but Google refreshed the lineup by dropping the 8 gig version, lowering the price of the 16 gig version, and introducing a new 32 gig version. Other than the pricing structure and additional storage, the tablet remains unchanged from earlier versions purchased this summer. It must be noted that the newest version of Android 4.2 (still named Jelly Bean) will be available for all of the Nexus devices, but as of this date has not yet been released. It is anticipated that the new version will be pushed to existing Nexus 7 tablets when the Nexus 10 becomes available.

I have spent the last 24 hours with one of the new 32 gig versions of the Nexus 7, so here are my first impressions of Google’s latest 7 inch Android tablet.

My First Impressions of the Nexus 7

One of the first things that I noticed when taking the tablet out of its well-designed packaging is that the Nexus 7 is really light as far as tablets go. Compared to my iPad 3 (1.44 lbs), this device is really light in the hands. Of course, it is much smaller than the iPad 3, and the iPad mini is actually 1 ounce lighter than the Nexus 7. But, overall I am happy with the size and weight of the device.

The next thing that I noticed using this new tablet is that the tablet is fast. It doesn’t even come close to comparing with some of the 10-inch Android tablets that I have used in the past. This Nexus 7 is quick to respond to commands. I look forward to seeing if there will be any more improvements in speed in the newer version of Android, but I am happy right now with the power of the Quad Core Tegra 3 Processor that is standard in the Nexus 7.

Perhaps my favorite physical feature of the Nexus 7 is the tablet itself. The tablet is well-built and feels solid in your hand. Unlike some other Android tablets that I have held, this device does not feel cheap. The non-slip backing is the icing on the cake. I have always been afraid to lay down my iPad for fear of scratching its metallic backing. The Nexus 7′s backing is a textured rubberized material that gives its user the confidence to actually use the tablet without fear of messing it up.

I have read some complaints about the screen resolution of this tablet, but I do not find the screen to be a problem. The 1280 x 800 HD display is bright and clear, offering a picture that looks good to my naked eye. Tablet vendors like to brag about pixel density and display quality in all of their marketing materials, but the main questions are “Does it look good?” and “Does it hurt your eyes?” The answers in this case are yes the tablet looks good and no I have not experienced any excessive eye strain.

The tablet I have operates on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean v.1) software, but I anticipate the device upgrading to Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean v.2) as soon as the other Nexus devices become available. Google advertises this device to operate on 4.2, but since it was the first device to actually ship, it does not have the latest software out of the box. Of course there will be some changes under the hood to the operating system, but the newest features that will be made available in this update are widgets auto-arranging themselves, Photo Sphere, Gesture Typing, Wireless Display, and Multiple User Accounts. As soon as this update installs I will take another look at some of these changes.

One of the major complaints of consumers using Android devices in the past has been the lack of apps and other media available via the Google Play store. However, all this has changed. Google just recently announced that they now have over 700,000 applications now available in the Google play store. This number equals the number that Apple has reported for its App Store, so one can no longer use lack of apps as an excuse for trying out the Android devices.

The Nexus 7 is the Premier 7-inch Tablet on the Market Today

The Nexus 7 is a great tablet. In my opinion, it is the premier 7-inch tablet on the market today. However, only time will tell with the release of the iPad mini if Google can hold on to the title. But, if you are in the market for an Android tablet, the Nexus 7 is the way to go. If you are looking at a Kindle Fire HD or a Nook HD, look no further than the Nexus 7. For the same money, you get the full version of Android Jelly Bean, and, with the Nook and Kindle Apps added to your Nexus 7, you are able to take full advantage of books purchased from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You will lose access to your Amazon Prime videos that you will receive on your Fire, but that is a small price to pay for having the power of the Nexus 7 for all of your other needs.

The Nexus 7, like all Android devices, syncs with your Google account and everything “G” syncs perfectly with the tablet with minimal effort. Just sign in with your Gmail account and you now have access to your Gmail, Contacts, Calendar, Reader, Google +, Google Drive, Google Photos, Google Play Books, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Magazines, and even your Google Wallet.

If you are in the market for a tablet this year, the first decision that you will have to make is size. Do you want a 7-inch or 10-inch tablet? If you opt for the smaller 7-inch tablet, then you should certainly consider the Nexus 7. Only time will tell if the iPad mini will out perform the Nexus 7. But one thing is clear: when it comes to pricing, the Nexus 7 is the clear winner. The Nexus comes in at $130 less than the comparable iPad mini.

The Nexus 7 costs $199 for the 16 gig version and $259 for the 32 gig version and is available now at the Google Play store or at select retailers nationwide.

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