Google's new Nexus 7-inch tablet is fast with a great display

Google's new Nexus 7-inch tablet is fast with a great display

A fast processor good enough for gaming, a stunning fine-resolution screen, wireless charging, the latest Bluetooth protocols, and Near Field Communication for advanced connectivity on a relatively inexpensive tablet is a line-up that's hard to beat.
You may not like the Nexus 7 when you first see it. It does look squarish and a bit drab. But there's not much else you can say that's negative. And the positive experience begins when you pick it up.
For starters, it's light. At 290g for the WiFi versions or 299g for the 4G LTE cellular version, it's lighter than Apple's competing 7.9-inch iPad Mini but has a superior screen resolution: 1200x1920 pixels at 323 pixels per inch versus 768x1024 pixels at 162ppi.

That could change if Apple updates the Mini later this year, but for now the Nexus 7, a Google-designed tablet built by Taiwanese manufacturer Asus, reigns supreme.
GRAPHIC: Nexus 7 tablet
The Nexus 7 case is thin, narrow enough to be held comfortably in the palm, yet offers decent real estate at the top and bottom for gripping in landscape mode, which invariably is what you use for watching video. Unlike the Samsung S3 models, you won't mistakenly trigger the back or home buttons while holding it.
On the downside, the Nexus 7 doesn't have a slot for a microSD card, so you can't augment the 16Gb or 32Gb of internal memory on board. The Nexus 7 too has fairly ordinary cameras: a 5 and 1.2 megapixel rear and front-facing cameras. Pictures are OK but colours can look a little dull and washed out.
The micro USB charging slot, however, offers versatility. It supports SlimPort: you can attach a USB to HDMI connector and mirror tablet content to a HD TV.
The hallmark of the Nexus 7 is performance. It has a fast and modern quadcore Snapdragon S4 Pro processor. The AnTuTu benchmark which tests CPU and graphic capabilities returned a score of 18174, an 80 per cent improvement on the Samsung Galaxy S3 8-inch tablet we reviewed last week. The latest Samsung and HTC smartphones seem among only a handful of devices that perform better in AnTuTu.
The Nexus 7's performance is evident when you load and play games such as 3D Racing. When we tried it out, there was no lag when steering; the tablet was responsive to twists and turns, and no glitches. And watching video was a great experience. The crispness and detail of 1080p full HD was certainly evident.
The Nexus 7 has a not-so-huge 3950 millampere hour fixed battery and, given it needs to drive a big processor and high-definition screen, I was sceptical about battery life. We achieved just over six hours of battery life watching video stored on the device, at 75 per cent brightness. Battery life is reasonable at least.
Software and content is increasingly important to tablets. The Nexus 7 is the first Android device to run the latest upgrade: Jelly Bean 4.3.
The upgrade isn't stunning but there are a few new features. Windows Phone 8 has a feature called Kids Corners which lets users set up restricted profiles so that their children can use selected apps with no access to parents' confidential files or accounts.
A similar feature is now available on Android. Under Android 4.3, parents can set up profiles for each family member, or a business can configure a tablet so that each staff member can login with a different username. These users only use pre-designated apps and cannot purchase with Google Play.
Bluetooth Smart Ready sees Android become more compatible with new types of connected devices such as pedometers and health monitors. Android's graphics have received a software overhaul with OpenGL ES3.0 high-performance graphics. A demo app shows you what you would see with and without it and the improved detail is noticeable.
Google uses the vanilla, or unmodified Android, in contrast to a manufacturer's modified Android. This has advantages and disadvantages. You can upgrade when Google releases a new version and not wait until a manufacturer produces its own. On the other hand, I miss some of the rich content and features that Samsung offers through its TouchWiz Android user interface. HTC similarly offers an improved strain of Android.
Overall the, Nexus 7 is a classy tablet with well-designed hardware, a great screen, and the most up-to-date Android available. It is well priced and should be popular with those seeking a small form-factor tablet.


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