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Google Nexus 7 Review

on December 27, 2012 – 3:42 pmNo Comment


Google unveiled the Nexus 7 earlier this June that went on sale in India last month. Here we have the review of the Nexus 7, Google’s first Android Tablet that is made by Asus, popular for its Transformer tablets. We unboxed the device back in August. Let’s get into the complete review of the tablet to find out how it performs.

Video review

Hardware


The 7-inch (1280×800 pixels) IPS display with a pixel density of 216 ppi is good. Text, photos and videos are clearly visible in the sharp and bright display. The screen has Corning Gorilla glass protection and is prone to fingerprints. It has a minimal bezel around the display and has good build quality.


There is a 1.2MP front-facing camera at the top along with a ambient light sensor for auto brightness control.


Since the tablet doesn’t have capacitive touch buttons, there are on-screen buttons for home, back and multi-tasking. The functions of these buttons vary accordingly.


There is tiny microphone hole on the left along with pins for docking station. The tablet is 10.45 mm thick.


The power button and the volume rocker are located on the right side . These buttons are present at the back cover instead of the front part, that lets you access them easily when you are holding. It might be uncomfortable for some.


The micro USB port and the 3.5mm audio jack are located at the botton.


At the back there is a secondary microphone that is hardly noticeable. This is used to reduce background noise.


There is a Nexus branding and Asus branding on the textured back. There is a loudspeaker grill below that.

Camera


The tablet has a camera app that lets you capture images from the front-facing camera. Panorama and the Photo Sphere app doesn’t work since the tablet doesn’t have a rear camera. You can swipe to the left to view the image gallery. You can hold on the camera UI or touch the circle on the bottom to access the settings menu that lets you control white balance, change picture size, enable geo tagging and adjust exposure. You can also record videos from the camera at 640 x 480 pixel resolution.

Software


Since this is a Google Nexus device, this would be the first to get the latest Android update. The Nexus 7 launched on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), and it received Android 4.1.2 update later that brought portrait mode finally. It brought Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) that brought several features including Lockscreen widgets, Multi-user support, better notifications and Quick Settings, Daydream and more.


The Lockscreen widgets are much useful to view Gmail, Calendar, Sound Search and more, directly from the lock screen. Even if your device is password protected, you can view a glance of the widgets, but can’t access them.


You can also launch the Google Now from the lockscreen by swiping up from the bottom. Google Now offers several cards for travel, Maps, Weather and more.


The Multi-user option lets you add several users. You can log into your personal account and maintain your own settings right from the lock screen. It also saves all of your app data so that the other users don’t need to download all the apps again.

The homescreen has Google Search / Google Now bar with voice and shortcuts. There are on-screen buttons for back, home and multi-tasking. You can add shortcuts and add apps to the Favorites tray. You can press and hold on the home screen to change the wallpaper.


You can press and hold the home button to launch the Google Now.

In the portrait view, you can swipe to either left or right to clear the background apps, in the landscape view you need to slide it to up or down.


You can swipe down on the left side to get the notification bar. The notifications bar has advanced options such as option to share the images easily, reply to e-mails and more.


You can swipe down on the right side to see the Quick Settings options that has shortcuts for Brightness, WiFi, Airplane mode and Bluetooth.


You can also add Widgets to the homescreen easily by holding it and placing it on the homescreen.


In the settings, you can enable Daydream screensaver that runs when the tablet is charging when it is docked. There are different daydream screensavers such as Clock, Colors, Google Currents, Photo Frame or Photo Table.


Other than the default Slide unlock, the tablet also feature Face Unlock, Pattern, PIN and Password unlock. The security settings also has an option that disallows or warns you before installing an app that may case harm. There are also new accessibility features such as Magnification gestures and accessibility shortcut for blind users. You can also read What’s new in Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) to know more details about these features.

Apps


The tablet has Google Apps including Google+, Gmail, Calendar, YouTube, Earth, Talk, Currents, People and Calendar. It has the Chrome browser, which replaces the old Android Webkit browser. The Google Currents app lets you explore online magazine, just like Flipboard.


The Photo Gallery has photo filters that lets you add a list of Instagram-like effects such as Vintage, Latte, Litho, X Process and more. You can also add borders, crop, rotate, straighten and adjust white balance.

The new Gmail app has pinch-to-zoom option and swipe to archive or delete features. This also adds option to Attach photos and videos from within Gmail and view larger photo previews and gallery view for photo attachments. There are Play Books, Play Magazines and Play Movies & TV, but these are not available in India.

Music and Media Player


The Play Music is the Music Player. You can view all Music or Music only on the device. There is Album view and several options in the music player including shuffle, repeat and instant mix. You can add songs to the queue to play next.


You can enable equalizer from the settings, which offers several equalizer settings (Classical, Dance, Flat, Folk, Heavy Metal, Hip Hop, Jazz, Pop, Rock, FX booster and custom). The Bass boost and 3D effect are available when you plugin the earphones. The audio from the loudspeakers and the earphones are good. You don’t get earphones in the box, unlike the Samsung Galaxy Tablets.

The Play Movies and TV app can play MP4, MPG and 3GP videos but doesn’t support AVI or MKV formats. You can change the on-screen caption size from the settings.

Keyboard and Browser

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The Keyboard offers several input languages. It also has auto-correction, suggestions, next-word prediction and more. The Android 4.2 update brought gesture typing that lets you input a word just by gliding over the letters, just like Swype. Some of the advanced keyboard settings include, contact name suggestions, language switch key, option to switch to other input methods, change between QWERTY or QWERTZ and adjust keypress sound volume.


The Chrome browser scores 385 points with 11 bonus points out of 500. It also has Incognito tab, bookmark sync and more useful features.

Connectivity


The connectivity options include, WiFi 820.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, NFC to share files using Android Beam and for contact-less payments using Google Wallet in select countries. It also has GPS support, but since this is the WiFi version, it’s not much helpful when you are travelling since Google Maps need data. There is a Data usage manager that lets you keep track of data used by apps every month.

Benchmarks

Let us see how the 1.3 GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and GeForce GPU performs.

Quadrant Benchmark

The Nexus 7 is between the Note 10.1 and the Tab 2 310 in the Quadrant benchmark.

Vellamo

Nexus 7 is at the last in the Vellamo browser benchmark.

Smartbench 2012 – Productivity

The Nexus 7 is just behind the Note 10.1 in the Smartbench productivity benchmark.

Smartbench 2012 – Gaming

It is few points behind in the SmartBench Gaming.

Linpack – Single Thread

Linpack – Multi-Thread

The Nexus 7 lies between the Note 10.1 and the Tab 2 310 in both Linpack single and multi-thread.

GLBench Egypt (1080p) (Onscreen)

Nexus 7 tops the GLBenchmark Egypt test

NenaMark 2

It is just behind the Note 10.1 in the NenaMark 2 test.

Conclusion

The Nexus 7 has good build quality and offers latest Android experience. The 4325 mAh battery lasts for 2 days with average use. We compared the Nexus 7 with the Galaxy Tab 2 310 recently, and the main thing this lacked is the 3G support. The Tab 2 310 excels in the storage, 3G and the voice calling. The Nexus 7 has limited storage with no expansion slots which is a bit disappointing. The iPad mini went on sale in India recently, which becomes a direct competitor to the Nexus 7 since it lies in the similar price range. At a price tag of Rs. 19,999, if you need an Android Tablet with good build, display and want to run the latest Android version, go for it.

Pros

  • Good display
  • Runs on the latest Android OS
  • Good build quality

Cons

  • Less internal memory with no expandable slot
  • Few Tablet-optimized apps on Google Play
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Srivatsan Sridhar is a Mobile Technology Enthusiast who is passionate about Mobile phones and Mobile apps. He is currently using the Motorola Moto G. You can follow him on Twitter @ssrivatsan and on Google+