Google Nexus 7 (8GB)
CNET Editors' Rating: 4.0 / 5
The good: The Nexus 7's quad-core Tegra 3 processor delivers fast performance and a beautiful and responsive screen. Also, it's comfortable to hold and Android 4.1 brings a surplus of welcome additions. At only $200, the Nexus 7 is a steal.
The bad: The lack of built-in expandable storage and omission of HDMI are disappointing, and the design follows the plain, black tablet mold. The top and bottom bezels are a bit too thick
The bottom line: With a beautiful screen, fast performance, a comfortable design, and overall great media options, the Nexus 7 is easily the best 7-inch tablet available and one of the top tablets on the market.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
Editors note: Google has discontinued the 8GB version of the Nexus 7. The 16GB version now takes its place at $199 and a new 32GB model is now available for $249. Another new 32GB version with 3G HSPA+ will begin shipping on November 13 for $299. As of July 2013, the 2012 Nexus 7 reviewed here has been replaced by the 2013 version.
The Nexus 7 tablet embodies the moment when tablet buyers no longer have to compromise performance for price. No other 7-inch, $200 to $250 tablet combines this level of performance, with Android 4.1's features, in such a comfortable design.
What buyers lose with the lack of built-in expandable storage options and the omission of a back camera, they’ll gain in complete OS flexibility in a powerful and cheap tablet.
Yep, the Nexus 7 is yet another black tablet (unless you got one with a white back at Google I/O) in the long line of black tablets. Yet, it does its best to break from the cookie cutter mold of most slates. Chief among those efforts is a rubbery, leathery, grippy back texture, similar to what we saw on the Acer Iconia Tab A510, but with both "Nexus" and "Asus" embossed on it. It may not look like much, but the inclusion of this seemingly small bit of design panache makes the tablet one of the most comfortable I've ever held.
Then there's the bezel. Held in portrait, the right and left side bezels of the tablet are refreshingly thin, while the top and bottom are thicker than what I usually find on 7-inch tablets. While the thicker bezel design can be useful as a place to rest your thumbs while holding the tablet, they are a bit too thick for my taste and make the tablet feel needlessly long.
Speaking of holding, the Nexus 7 is noticeably lighter than the Kindle Fire and, thanks to its beveled bottom and painted silver trim, actually looks thinner. Or at least sleeker. There's definitely some kind of slimming illusion going on, as I wasn't the only one to think it's much skinnier than the Kindle Fire. Turns out, it is thinner, but only by 0.04 inch.
|Nexus 7||Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0||Amazon Kindle Fire|
|Weight in pounds||0.74||0.74||0.9|
|Width in inches (landscape)||7.8||7.6||7.4|
|Height in inches||4.72||4.8||4.75|
|Depth in inches||0.4||0.3||0.4|
|Side bezel width in inches (landscape)||0.8||0.76||0.78 (power button side), 0.6 opposite side|
I usually describe tablet feature placement from a landscape perspective, but given that Google changed the way the Home screen functions, I've been forced to adjust. When the Nexus 7 is held in portrait mode and viewed from the front, the 1.2-megapixel front camera sitting in the middle of the top bezel is the lone distinguishable feature. On the right edge toward the top is the power/lock button, closely followed by the volume rocker. Following the right edge down and around to the bottom reveals a headphone jack, with a Micro-USB port in the middle of bottom edge. Right above that, on the back is a horizontally aligned 2-inch-long speaker slit.
That's it, though. No memory expansion, no HDMI out, and no back camera are included. Their exclusion is likely a cost-saving measure, but also makes the tablet that much more approachable for the tablet layman.
Just how sweet is that Bean?
The Nexus 7 will be the first device to ship with the latest incarnation of the Android OS, version 4.1, also known as Jelly Bean. Though Android 4.1 on the Nexus 7 is just as customizable as previous incarnations of the OS, the way it's presented here feels much more controlled and focused, and while a bit less intimidating to the uninitiated, it also feels a bit constraining.
Part of the reason is the way the home screen now works. Well, it works the same as it does on every other Android tablet, allowing you vast customization options, but now if you turn the tablet to landscape mode the screen won't rotate. It rotates fine in apps, but as soon as you tap that home button, you're back in portrait mode. Not the biggest deal in the world, but it does contribute to a slight tinge of claustrophobia when navigating and can be quite annoying. To me, at least. Google may see it as a safety net: if you get scared or confused, just press this home button and return to the comforting bosom of the home screen in the same orientation you remember. Not a bad compromise if Google is indeed going after a mass audience with this tablet.
The dock on the bottom of the home screen is filled mostly with Google services apps like Play, Music, Books, and Magazines. There's also a folder housing Chrome -- the default browser -- as well as Google Maps, Google Plus, Gmail, and other services. Directly in the middle of the tray is the apps button. Swiping up from the home button and across the apps button takes you to Google Now, Google's new predictive personalized helper.
Google Now displays information like the current weather, local bus schedules, and nearby restaurants you may be interested in. While this can be useful on the Nexus 7 if you're near a Wi-Fi connection, it loses its appeal if you're already outside, waiting for a bus, and is much more useful on a phone.
As mentioned, there's a 1.2-megapixel camera on the front, but there's no actual camera app included. Unless Google adds one before release, it looks like video conferencing is all the camera will be used for. To which my response is, "Why even include a camera, then?" Google's response is Google Plus hangouts.
Google Play plays nicely, but not cheaply
In keeping with the "Google's gunning for the Kindle Fire" theme, Google Play has been updated to include TV shows, purchasable movies, and magazines, finally bringing the store into modern times. After browsing through a few HD and standard-definition TV shows, it appears that Google's prices for complete seasons match the prices for the same shows on iTunes. However, on the Kindle Fire, prices were routinely much cheaper compared even with the SD versions on Google Play -- though those lower prices are offset by the cost of an Amazon Prime membership.
Also, a couple of shows on Google Play like "Breaking Bad" and "Justified" currently offer only the latest season, while Amazon Instant offers the complete series; however, the complete series of other shows like "The Walking Dead" and "Parks and Recreation" are available. This is a rights issue more than anything and the catalog should hopefully improve over time.
Movies and TV shows purchased through Google Play will stream by default and you'll have to manually download them if you want them stored locally. I've been looking forward to this for a long time, and it's exciting that Android owners finally have an official, fast, and legal way of getting movies and TV shows on their devices.
Android 4.1 teaches typing
One of the purported new Android 4.1 features is improved precision when typing on the soft keyboard. After taking the Nexus 7 out of the box, I wanted to quickly put this to the test. I usually make lots of mistakes when texting on my iPhone 4 or even when testing typing precision on other tablets, so my typing skills aren't exactly legendary. However, when signing in to my Google account on the Nexus 7, I was able to type quickly, without making a single mistake.
While I did eventually begin making mistakes (and plenty of them, of course), the majority of the time I felt much more like they were my own errors and not the tablet misinterpreting my taps. It's obviously not perfect, but it is an improvement over what I've experienced on Android tablets before.
Siri-ous voice recognition
There's also now a Siri-like voice recognition app that allows you to search the Web with your voice. It's not so much an assistant like Siri -- it won't schedule meetings for you or remind you to call your wife when you leave work -- but it will recognize phrases like "Who are the Oakland A's playing today?" and return the answer via a voice response as well as a crude graphic showing a recent final score. "Where can I get some pizza?" returns a Google Maps listing of restaurants nearby that serve pizza. The current version of Siri on the iPhone 4S could keep up with the food queries, but not so much the sports.
Other queries, like, "Show me pictures of 'X,'" worked really quickly to deliver an assortment of pictures matching your subject. The same goes for word definitions. Again, while cool, this is another feature that will probably get little use on the tablet and be more at home on phones.
The quad-core Tegra 3 inside the Nexus 7 is the same 1.3GHz chip we've seen in most recent Android tablets, including the 12-core GPU. The Nexus 7 also includes 1GB of DDR2 RAM, as opposed to the faster DDR3 RAM the Asus TF300 uses. The Nexus 7 also has 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and GPS. There's also support for Google's NFC-based technology, Android Beam.
With Android Beam you can send Web pages, maps, and files, but not apps, however. To work, the two compatible devices have to touch back to back, and in the case of the Nexus 7 the device must touch the upper-right corner of the tablet's back to work. And work it does. Web pages or maps travel fast; however, pictures and larger files obviously take a bit more time to copy over.
The Nexus 7 sports an IPS screen with a wider viewing angle than the Kindle Fire's and even wider than you see on some 10-inch Android tablets. The 1,280x800-pixel resolution packed into a 7-inch display gives visuals like text and graphics a sharper look than what I'm typically used to seeing on most 7-inchers.
The screen is responsive to touch and swipe, but possibly could use just a bit more sensitivity calibration, as some of my swipes would only half take.
|Tested spec||Google Nexus 7||Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0||Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7||Amazon Kindle Fire|
|Maximum brightness||288 cd/m2||379 cd/m2||110 cd/m2||424 cd/m2|
|Default brightness||190 cd/m2||150 cd/m2||51 cd/m2||147 cd/m2|
|Maximum black level||0.28 cd/m2||0.31 cd/m2||0.0049 cd/m2||0.45 cd/m2|
|Default black level||0.18 cd/m2||0.12 cd/m2||0.0049 cd/m2||0.15 cd/m2|
|Default contrast ratio||1,055:1||1,250:1||10,408:1||980:1|
|Maximum contrast ratio||1,028:1||1,222:1||22,449:1||963:1|
Riptide GP ran smoothly, and, of course, it includes the Tegra 3 water-splash effects; however, the frame rate does drop when the resolution is cranked to max. Both GTA 3 and Max Payne Mobile looked as good as they do on any tablet, save the Transformer Infinity or iPad.
That said, I feel it's make or break time for the Tegra 3. It's been six month since its release, and we've still yet to see a killer, exclusive game that takes advantage of its quad-core architecture. Infinity Blade on the iPad is approachable, additive, takes advantage of the iPad's GPU to produce gorgeous visuals, and above all, it's fun. For a while at least. Tegra 3 needs its own "Infinity Blade" (actually, several killer apps would be nice) to avoid being anything other than a stopgap.
That said, Tegra 3 has video chops. I got a 1080p movie to play on the tablet, and it looked great, especially with the screen's high pixel density.
As for battery life, Google says to expect 9 hours while playing HD video. Using the device casually for a day or so, I found that its battery drained at about the same speed as the Kindle Fire's. Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.
|Video battery life (in hours)|
|Google Nexus 7||10.1|
I found Web speeds matched those of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, but on average were faster than the Kindle Fire's. App download speeds were identical to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0's speeds; I downloaded a 218MB version of Deer Hunter Reloaded in 122 seconds. This score was averaged over three iterations with the closed network router about 5 feet away from the tablets.
The speaker slit is located on the bottom back of the tablet. The sound that emanates is fairly loud and full, without much distortion, even at maximum volume. One word of advice: when using the speakers, keep the tablet laid flat on its back. In this position the sound is able to bounce off whatever surface it's on and reverberate, creating a echo that increases the fullness of the acoustics. Look, I'm no audiophile, but I was impressed considering the size of the tablet.
|Amazon Kindle Fire||Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0||Nexus 7|
|Deer Hunter Reloaded |
download speed (in seconds)
The Nexus 7's screen looks great and feels responsive; the tablet feels well-built and does a good job of demonstrating its power in games and movie performance. The lack of built-in expandable storage or a back camera is a bummer, but it's understandable given the dirt-low $200 (for 8GB; $250 for 16GB) price.
Google is off to a good start here. The specs are impressive, the Android 4.1 OS feels simplified while retaining its flexibility, and TV shows and purchasable movies are welcome additions to the Google Play store. However, while the Nexus 7 is clearly the best 7-inch tablet available, Kindle Fire owners will still be treated to a better-implemented ecosystem and more video options, especially if they're Amazon Prime members.
To be an iPad killer, you'd need to gather a universe-size amount of app support. And that would only be your first step. The Nexus 7 isn't an iPad killer, but it could be the first step on the road to a much more competitive tablet market.
Editor's note: Thanks to its comfortable design and light weight compared to the Amazon Kindle HD (7-inch), we've bumped the Nexus 7's design score from a 7 to an 8. Its overall rating hasn't changed.
Average User Rating: 4.0 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 22
4 Star: 7
3 Star: 2
2 Star: 0
1 Star: 2
Excellent tablet !
Rating: 5 / 5
on July 21, 2012
10 out of 12 users found this review helpful
-very Fast unlike other versions of android
- 7 inch form factor feels nicer in the hands and makes typing easier.
- the textured backing feels nice
- good battery life
Cons: - no expandable memory
- lack of rear camera (but who uses a tablet to take pictures )
- android apps are not as great as the iPad
Summary: I actually enjoy the nexus 7 over the ipad. Having owned the new iPad, it was always too heavy to hold with one hand and typing was difficult because of the 10 inch form factor. The speed and performance of the nexus 7 is equivalent to the ipad
ITS A MUST BUY
Rating: 4.5 / 5
on June 27, 2012
14 out of 23 users found this review helpful
Pros: RESPONSIVE TOUCH
ANDROID 4.1 JELLY BEAN
1.3 GHZ QUAD CORE PROCESSOR
12 CORE GPU
1 GB RAM
Cons: NO HDMI OUT
NO BACK CAMERA
NO EXTERNAL CARD SLOT
Summary: The display is amazing and the touch response is awesome.anyway 200% more value than our money.it runs on 1.3 ghz processor
and compared to ipad which has 1 ghz its more than the value.as you know GOOGLE ROCKS. :)
A KNOCKOUT PUNCH in a 7" form factor!
Rating: 4.5 / 5
on July 14, 2012
9 out of 11 users found this review helpful
Google Search w/voice input
Play Music (up to 20,000 of your own music streamed to your device FOR FREE!
About a Gazillion More Things
Cons: No Expandable Memory
Back Camera (I like scanning QR codes, not a fan of taking pictures with tablets
No HDMI out
Summary: I actually preordered and picked up mine from Gamestop. After that, everything is a blurr. I looked up from the tablet after playing with it all day, to find the light of a new day, peaking through my window.
The Nexus 7 is now the standard to which all other 7" devices should be measured. It's smoking fast. The first website I went to loaded so fast, I was in shock! Chrome browser loaded up webpages open on my laptop and synced all of my bookmarks.
My family and I took turns passing it around asking questions in the Google Now app and it was fast and responsive. The first time I used Google now in front of them, their eyes grew as big as saucers.
I can not say enough about this tablet. If you're considering buying a 7" device, run, don't walk to your nearest retailer or online store. This thing makes you smile, every time you touch use it.
Good for what it is.
Rating: 4 / 5
on August 28, 2012
5 out of 5 users found this review helpful
Pros: Nice screen
Fast compared to dual core tablets
Cons: As long as you know its limitations, no real cons. As everyone stated before me, there is no HDMI or micro SD slot. If you don't care, then don't worry.
Battery isn't as great as everyone says
Summary: The tablet is great. I don't plan on moving my music or movie collection to this device so I have no need for external storage or HDMI. (I'm a man of several operating systems, iPod for music, movies on WMC on Win7 PC connected to a TV, Android for everything else)
I don't think the battery life is as fantastic as people make it sound. Maybe I have been spoiled by my Razr Maxx smartphone, but I think my Motorola Xoom lasts longer too.
Do not get me wrong. You can go all day, but it just seems to drain faster than I've gotten used to.
Regardless of this minor thing, I would recommend this to everyone. I love the devices that are as close to stock Android OS as possible, and this one fits the bill by being pure stock Android. (If you don't know what I mean, different manufacturers can alter or skin their Android devices to give them their own flair or style). The Xoom also fits this bill, but is now becoming an outdated piece of equipment. The Nexus 7 adds portability, speed, and specs that are not found on any other tablet prices at $200. If you don't need a 10" screen, then I definitely recommend the Nexus 7.
A must by!! High quality at an affordable price
Rating: 4 / 5
on July 16, 2012
7 out of 10 users found this review helpful
Size is just right
Responsive and vibrant screen
Jelly Bean works great
Update directly from Google no carrier bottleneck
Cons: WiFi only is a drag at times with it feeling so good you want to just take it everywhere
Lack of expandable memory
No Flash support
No rear facing camera(not a problem for me but for some it will be)
Summary: In conclusion I have had it for two days and I love it. I have taken it to the gym for when I do my cardio and it is awesome. I think that the size really makes it a bit more mobile and comfortable. With the ipad and the ASUS TF Prime the size is good but sometimes it can be a bit too big as you move from room to room or try to read while laying in bed. The tablet is fast. The Screen is vibrant. If you have an android phone pretty much all your apps are ready for you to download. At this price there really isn't much to really complain about. No there is not expandable memory or data connection but ASUS wanted to keep the price down and sometimes you have to give a little to get a lot and I think that you get a lot for the $250.00 that you pay for the 16GB version. If you are in the market for a tablet and don't have $400 plus dollars this is the tablet for you! Actually even if you do have $400 plus dollars I would say give this a look and save some money.