I’m a big fan of Android tablets and iPads, they’re the new best-thing and there’s such a huge choice that finding the right one for you is sometimes a mountainous task. Of course, every Android tablet is compared to the iPad, and rightly or wrongly for the most part the super Apple iPads come out on top.
I have compared my iPad and this brilliant new Google Nexus 7 side by side these last couple of days, in the hope that there is at last an Android table that can match the iPad experience, and for those of you not wanting wait, I’ll tell you straight away what my thoughts are… the Nexus 7 is awesome and as smooth as an iPad in every way.
There is not much to distinguish tablets, and they are all much of a much-ness. The Nexus 7, as the name suggests, is a 7 inch screened tablet, so it fits neatly into your hand, making it ideal for a book or comic reader. The front has the screen which is covered with scratch resistant corning glass, there are no joins and its just one smooth surface. The rear has the Nexus name and the ASUS name embossed into it. It has a rubbery feel to it, making it a pleasure to hold. The Nexus 7 also has a nice weight to it, and at 340grams is not too heavy and not too light. On the side of the tablet there is a rocker volume control and an on and off switch, and that, along with a headphone socket and micro-USB slot are the only buttons and sockets on the machine.
Anyone who has used an ASUS laptop or tablet before will know that they make quality machines with brilliant build quality, and the Google Nexus 7 is no different. Its elegant without being in-your-face and feels like a quality product when you hold it.
Yes, it’s only just been released but the newest version of Android 4 (Jelly Bean) has been released. This is good news as it shows Google and ASUS have their priorities right and are keeping up with the latest developments in the world of Android. If you’ve ever used an Android machine before, you will be familiar with the User Interface instantly. You can place widgets or icons on your screen, you can drag and drop items onto the screen and it looks and feels like a highly polished Android UI. Unlike Samsung who use their own UI, the Nexus 7 comes with pure Android, meaning it’s super smooth in operation.
Android 4.1.1 really is a brilliant overall experience. Its simple enough for newbies to use, and yet can be technical enough for those who need to do a bit more. The only criticisms we found while testing the unit was that auto-rotate was off by default meaning when using certain apps or the internet, you are locked into portrait mode. My advice would be to as soon as you get the tablet, switch to auto-rotate mode. The other niggle is that the home screen is locked in portrait mode. Again, not a huge complaint, but one that might be addressed at a later date.
The Google store is on your home-screen, and has been tweaked a little for this newest version of Android. What is impressive is the speed of the downloads and the speed of the installation. Downloading files is super-quick via wi-fi, and even on quite huge files the installation was almost instant! This machine really does fly!
The Nexus 7 has a screen resolution of 1280×800 pixels (216ppi) and because it’s on a smaller screen than an iPad it looks nothing short of stunning, so much so in-fact, that side-by-side we really could not see any difference in screens showing the same text or pictures. People have mentioned the brightness on the Nexus 7 as a problem, with the brightness turned up full, the Nexus 7 looked just as good as an iPad screen with the naked eye, and its what it looks like with your eyes that really matters, not the figures that people throw around the net.
Watching a movie (Transformers 3 was free with the device) was impressive, because it has an IPS screen like the iPad, you could view the film from any angle without loss of quality. The HD download played flawlessly without any stutter, just as they do on the iPad, but most other Android tablets I have used do suffer in this respect.
Using the internet was a good experience, again the screen is crisp and clear, and the simple pinch controls used these days to expand screen areas works perfectly. Just like the iPad, the Nexus 7 does not come with Adobe Flash, there are techniques to get it to work on the Nexus, but for anyone who is not technology minded it is worth pointing that fact out. That said, HTML 5 is used instead, and the majority of sites now have an alternative version of their Flash site.
Sound from the unit is quite loud, but not quite it does not seem to have as much bass as an iPad. There is a nice little music player on the device, which is more than adequate for listening to music, and of course everything you add to the Nexus 7 is via drag and drop if you are with using it alongside a PC, so its very simple and a much better experience than the dreadful Apple iTunes.
There is no way in which you can upgrade the memory of the Nexus 7, and its available in both 8GB and 16GB versions. For the little difference in price, it is worth buying the 16GB version. Other than memory size, there is no other difference between the two units.
The Nexus only handles a small amount of video files, but there are plenty of programs you can download on the Google Play Store that will allow you to play films you may have downloaded from the internet.
The Nexus 7 uses the Tegra 3 chipset, clocked at 1.3GHz, it has a 12-core Nvidia GPU and has 1GB DDR3 memory. Its a power-house of an Android tablet, and at its current price is a great deal cheaper than any comparable machines. In operation it is silky smooth, with no hick-ups or slow-down.
As an overall experience, its the closest thing you can get to using an Apple iPad, without it being an Apple iPad. It makes a brilliant book and comic reader, a stunning media player, a great internet tool and a cool gaming device. Battery life really is around 9 or 10 hours, once again matching the iPad.
If you’re on a budget and want something small and convenient which you can carry in your back pocket or in your bag then look no further than the Nexus 7. However, don’t let the small size put you off, because the Nexus 7 is the best Android tablet available right now and one easily on a par with Apples iPad range.