The original Google Nexus 7 that debuted last year showed us that premium products don't have to have premium prices. At $200, the 7-inch Android tablet stood up to its pricier competitors such as the Apple iPad Mini and with top-of-the line specs at the time. To this day, the first-generation Nexus 7 is still a favorite to those looking for a small tablet.
Not content with that, Google has further upped its game this year with a new Nexus 7 sporting all-around improvements like a faster processor and a new 4.3 Android OS, but priced about $30. Has Google given us a boring upgrade? Or is the Nexus 7 a winning dynasty? Let's find out!
Build and Design
The Nexus 7 offers a thin-and-light design with a solid build, making it feel like a premium product.
Weighing at only 0.66lbs., the Nexus 7 is the lightest tablet of its class at the time of this writing -- lighter than the iPad Mini which weighs 0.68lbs and lighter than last years Nexus 7 at 0.74lbs.
At a width of 4.5-inches, the Nexus 7 is cleverly designed as it fits comfortably in just one hand. In fact, it feels like a phone with a big screen at portrait mode, which in this case a good thing for ergonomic reasons.
I didn't really care for last year's leathery back and I'm glad that Google and Asus changed to a smooth all-plastic back making it less cheesy. The matte-black color is classy and it seems like Google is sticking with it, as there are no other colors available.
My only concern with the design is that the bezels on the top and bottom portion waste some space. Sure you need some finger room, but too much makes the device look awkwardly out of proportion, but it doesn't really have any affect on using it. Other than that, it is a very comfortable tablet to use.
Two words to describe the screen? Absolutely Gorgeous. The new Nexus 7 sports an ultra-sharp 1920 x 1200 resolution with 323ppi which is a big leap from last year's 1280 x 800 resolution with 216ppi. Comparatively, the iPad Mini has a 1024 x 768 resolution with 163ppi, which looks very out of date (to put things lightly) in today's standards.
Just by browsing the web, you will be pleased that text is easy to read, images are highly vibrant and detailed, and HD movies look amazing viewing at almost all angles. Even outdoors, the Nexus 7 has hardly any issues in direct sunlight.
You won't run into that many problems running your favorite Android apps even if they aren't tablet optimized. Apps like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Evernote, etc looked great on the Nexus 7. There is no 2X button which makes everything look blurry because it just works. The display is definitely one of its selling points especially at the price that it's at. If you are tired of waiting for a "Retina Display" 7-inch tablet, this is it right here.
The Nexus 7 uses the stock Google Keyboard that is available on all Android devices from the Play Store. They keys are large, easy to read and adequately responsive along with Swype-like capabilities. They stock keyboard is great for everyday use, but isn't smart like SwiftKey which remembers your word patterns. But hey, the beauty of Android is that you have the choice to install whatever keyboard you want to use.
Other Buttons & Ports
On the top right hand side of the Nexus 7 there is a standard headphone/mic port with an addition of speakers. Then on the right side you'll find the power/sleep button along with a volume rocker, which are all easily accessible. And finally at the bottom there are speakers with the microUSB port for syncing and charging. It should be noted that the Nexus 7 supports USB OTG allowing you to connect other USB devices such as an external hard drive or media card reader.
On the front of the screen, there is a front facing camera on the top right corner of the bezel and on the back you will find engraved but non-obtrusive Nexus and Asus logos. There is also with a 5MP camera that surprisingly takes decent photos on those rare occasions where you just want to be that weirdo in a museum capturing memories with your tablet.
The Google Nexus 7 surprises me again with something that is usually overlooked and ignored on tablets: stereo speakers. Everyone always recommends using headphones if you want to get the best sound out of a mobile device, which is also true in this case, but the Nexus 7 has speakers on its top and bottom, which will give you stereo quality sound. It's not blaringly loud and is no Beats speakers like on the HTC One, but they produce the best sound on any tablet so far.
Keep reading: Page 2 describes the performance of the Google Nexus 7 II.
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