The Nexus 7, built by Asus with close oversight from Google, is the best Android tablet and the best seven-inch tablet. If you have already convinced yourself that you want either of those, this is the one you want. It's nice to be able to say that so concretely! But where the best seven-inch, or even the best Android tablet falls in the overall tablet market is the more important question.
This is the first Nexus-branded tablet, which, like the Nexus line of smartphones, means Google was closely involved in its development to ensure the best, purest Android experience. It's the first device to come stock with Android 4.1, better known as Jelly Bean, which has a bunch of new software features. It is the same size and price as the Kindle Fire, its most clear-cut competitor. It's not the first tablet with NFC--if you're not sure what that is, read this (what it is) and this (how it's cool)--but it's the first tablet anyone's ever heard of with the feature.
Hardware: The hardware is great; at 12 ounces it's almost half the weight of the (somewhat hefty) Wi-Fi-only New iPad, and I really like the back panel's material, which feels both leathery and rubbery (now imagining a dark basement lab in which Google scientists splice the DNA of a rubber tree and a cow. Green light flashes. A robotic cackle is heard). The buttons are in reasonable places. It uses a standard microUSB port for charging and syncing, unlike many of its Android (and Apple!) competitors. Here's a weird one: I love the choice to leave out a rear camera. Rear cameras on tablets are stupid! They never take good pictures and you look like an idiot when you try. There's a front-facing camera for video chatting, though.
And the screen is very good; leagues better than other 7-inchers like the Kindle Fire or Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0. Not as pixel-dense as the new iPad, but it's a great screen. It's much more comfortable to read books on than an iPad, which always feels a bit unwieldy as a book-reading device to me.
Google Now is a dashboard-like app that isn't really like anything else on any other platform. You tap the search bar or hold the home button to get there. It's like a very fancy search app; you can search with voice (and voice has been improved to Siri-like levels of understanding) or text, but below that are several little "cards" that constantly and naturally update to show you things you want to know, like weather, traffic, public transit schedules, sports scores, and more. Tap the search bar, and it shows you when your nearest subway train is leaving, or what the weather is where you are right then. We all know that Google knows more about us than our significant others and parents combined, but this is using it for good. It is really, really great, and will be on all Jelly Bean phones as well.
There are at most a handful of apps designed for Android tablets, and none are particularly good. There's no good Twitter app, no good Facebook app, few games, no fun utilities. When you use an Android tablet, you're using the same apps as on your Android phone, just...bigger.
So, yes, this thing can do all of the things that an iPad can do, but aside from reading books, it does none of them in a way that is anywhere near as pleasurable. Apps designed for phones work, but not well; there's too much empty space, they look awkward, they don't take advantage of the larger screen size. And there are definitely no apps that suggest the 7-inch form factor can do things a 10-inch tablet can't. People wondering what you sacrifice when you move $250 down from the iPad to the Nexus? This is a large part of it. iPad apps feel fun and futuristic, design-y and cool. The Nexus can display a Twitter feed, a little bit bigger than your phone can.
The new Chrome browser seems like a great browser, but with the top bar of tabs, the navigation bar, and the on-screen control buttons (Home, Menu, Back), you get about three inches of vertical space when you hold it in landscape mode. In vertical mode you have to do tons of horizontal scrolling—not a great option, either.
Magazines: Google Play is the new name for the Android Market, which now has magazines, music, movies, and TV shows in addition to apps. The app selection, as mentioned, is lousy, and Google is missing several key partners in media (Warner, Viacom, Fox, CBS, and more) so the TV, movie, and music selection has giant holes. Magazines might be the worst offender; instead of the amazing, interactive, next-level reading experiences you get on an iPad, the magazines in Google Play are mostly flat PDFs. Disappointing to say the least.
$200 for 8GB, $250 for 16GB, both with Wi-Fi only (no 3G or 4G here). Neither have expandable memory. It's kind of low, but also extremely cheap, so, you know. Get an Rdio/Netflix/Hulu subscription.
The Nexus 7 is the best of its breed, but it also doesn't give me any evidence that the breed is one that really holds all that much promise. Aside from reading books, I think it's pretty clear that a 7-inch tablet is not preferable to a larger one like the iPad orthe upcoming Microsoft Surface. It's like comparing a moped to a car. Both get you from point A to point B, and it's not bad for what it is, but they're not really at the same level as far as capabilities go.
Google could even things up a little bit by really doubling down on apps. This thing needs apps! It's not enough to just put it out there and say, well, it can run regular Android apps on a bigger screen, so now it's a tablet with lots of apps. Apple and Microsoft have the right idea--the tablet is a new form factor, and it needs its own specific apps.
I don't mean to be too harsh on it; by objective gadget standards (psh! objectivity!), it is a good gadget. It does a lot of things, it's sturdy and well-designed, it's fast and cheap and easy to use. It's just hard to get excited about a pretty good budget version of something exciting. Wouldn't you rather be excited?
Cool review. I think the scope of it was great through the pro's...
However, you really lost focus when you got to the con's. I felt like I was reading about the Play store, not the nexus 7.
Maybe there were ZERO con's other than the Play store? Unlikely. The review/con's you provided could be copied and pasted (might have been) to the previous and following android tablet review.
I agree with PeacedOut above. Your cons seemed a little weird people want to know how the nexus 7 stacks up against other android tablets as well. Your review was a little too OS specific.
Secondly you can produce tablet specific apps on android. The only real difference is google also allows you to create cross form factor apps that try to optimize for whatever screen your using. Certain developers are good at this and certain ones end up creating enlarged cell phone apps or weird menu schemes.
Thirdly the only thing cheap about the nexus 7 is the price. The hardware is at the extremely high end (minus storage capacity...) and if google wasn't trying to market this tablet as a loss leader for content and android tablets it would be $400-$600. The nexus 7 almost matches the ipad 3 in benchmarks. According to nvidia the it eschewed benchmark beating in the quad core tegra 3, for optimizing the tablet experience (ie optimized app task and power management and ui ) I'm excited about it. You don't only get excited about things you have to pay a lot for. Do you?
Other than that once you get used to the seven inch size its preferable for everything but laying the tablet down and using it. Its really a pain to use 10 inch tablets while holding them. You have to stretch your thumbs across them or hold with one hand and operate with the other. Kinda like trying to write in a notebook while walking vs a using smaller notepad.
You miss a few things in your review, lack of a rear camera vs other tablets being the big one.
The number one reason to buy the Nexus 7 was forgotten: the wonderful access to the Google ecosystem which for me includes for hours daily the following: PICASA( with the free storage of PicasaWeb, GOOGLE DRIVE (docs, spreadsheets, presentation etc..with sharing of editing) GOOGLE MAPS (with personalized maps), GOOGLE EARTH (with zillions of features), GOOGLE PLAY (with 500,000 quickly improving apps, 10M books etc..),GOOGLE MUSIC (with 20,000 tunes), YOUTUBE (where I already have plaed 200 videos showable in landscape), GOOGLE BOOKS, GOOGLE SCHOLAR, GOOGLE BLOGGER (I have 35 blogs), GOOGLE TRANSLATE (I use it all the time), CALENDAR (more and more),GOOGLE+ (where all my friends are moving...albeit slowly!) and all that is integrate with incredible velocity and ease with GOOGLE SEARCH, allowing one to move stuff around for free (almost since I had to buy a $5 storage increase valid for extra gigs) - As a veteran of the Apple ecosystem, I can swear that for anyone who actually creates things hourly, it is Christmas 24/7 with this tablet. I have been vainly displaying my Macs over the years. Now I shut up and do stuff at 5x the rate of what was happening in the Apple Stuffy Ecosystem. This is just a personal POV, so don't start a quarrel. Go buy that thing. I can't wait to have mine.
I really don't get all the hype about tablets these days. If I'm trying to do work I'll use my PC and if I require something more portable for my computing needs I have my smarthphone. I'll admit they are fun, in a novelty sort of way, but I just can't justify spending money on something I truly have no need for.
Android having the first slide-down menu isn't actually true, when i jail-broke my one week old 1gen iPod touch you could get a mod for that exact type of thing, and i'm awfully sure that apple didn't just spawn the idea, they have taken a lot of ideas from the jail-breakers.
"The Nexus 7 is the best of its breed, but it also doesn't give me any evidence that the breed is one that really holds all that much promise. Aside from reading books, I think it's pretty clear that a 7-inch tablet is not preferable to a larger one like the iPad orthe upcoming Microsoft Surface. It's like comparing a moped to a car. Both get you from point A to point B, and it's not bad for what it is, but they're not really at the same level as far as capabilities go."
The Nexus 7 is perfect for what it is. A low price high quality consumption tablet. Google actually triumphantly establishes the 7" breed as the new mainstream size.I would say that this 7" inch breed was long overdue and for me provides the perfect portability/power ratio for its intended use. Consumption...
In my view, the tablet market is gradually shaping into 3 distinctive sizes/breeds:
a)The 200~300$ 7" breed for consuming digital content(7" Ipad soon).
b)The 500-600$ 9-10" "prime consumption" breed, which adds add power and screen size. This is likely to be at some point totally extinct with the emergence of the following breed:
c)The 800-900$ "laptop replacement", consumption/creation breed. The recently announced Microsoft Surface Pro is the kind of tablet that some dreamed of when the first Ipad was announced. Something tells me that Apple is already preparing its own "MacOSx-iOS" hybrid tablet (with retina, USB ports 128GB storage etc.).
Man, again with the now age old complaint about apps. I've used both platforms, and I never once thought of my android tablet, if only the apps were better/different, and I don't know a single android user who does. This is a non-existent issue voiced by writers with either a bias, or nothing else to write about. There are thousands of apps available for the platform, for pity's sake. Go find something constructive to do with your time.
Google is the ultimate marketing data base stalking machine. I am not so sure I trust their phone or even those google glasses. The gadget device looks great. But, hey! To each his own!
So you sold your soul to Apple?
Eeeeek! Ack! Hairball, ka-pu eeee! No to apple! Apple is a invotator often at times and I give them credit for this, but in each little package is a propriatary system of software and or gizmos electronic gadgets of being over priced and hard to fix.
The answer to your comment of apple, NO!
Every once in a while, you remind me why I love you.
On the app issue, if you ever have a problem with a built-in app, the Android platform has an alternative. ROOTing allows you to even remove the offenders and ICS (and later, I assume) unROOTed devices will allow you to "freeze" or disable almost all bundled apps through the default Apps interface in Settings. Another point I didn't see mentioned: if this is WiFi-only, you aren't going to be dealing with a boatload of Verizon/AT&T/whatever bloatware in the first place. I would have greatly appreciated some real hardware stats, however. Processor cores and speed, system storage reservation, screen DPI and type, etc. You guys really need to stop pretending to review mobile devices until you figure out how to do it or you link to and reference actual mobile industry journalists. Stick with the flying cars, until then.