The 7 is Google’s first attempt at making tablets. Up until now they’ve let a broad range of companies create them, and they’ve failed to gain any kind of lead on the iPad, most probably because they tend to fiddle with Android, slowing it down and making it look awful. So Google set about creating the perfect tablet, with undiluted Android, and surprisingly they did an incredible job.
Since the Nexus 7 has had nothing but praise I’ll start with all the things that are wrong with this tablet.
What’s Wrong With It
Missing Expandable Memory and 3G
Most apparent is the missing SD-Card slot and 3G. So no possibility to upgrade the memory or surf the internet while out. The bulk of my phone memory is taken up by photos, and since tablets aren’t designed to be cameras there aren’t likely to be many photos, and even so, the Galaxy Nexus doesn’t have expandable memory and I’ve not once needed to make room.
As for the lack of 3G, that is a blow since tablets are portable and the internet is pretty useful. But to make up for it Google Currents (news reader) will save articles and all their images, Google Play lets users download movies and music and Google Maps now lets you cache an area, and you still have GPS to play with. There is of course the option of tethering the tablet to a mobile phone via WIFI and, with some hacking, USB.
The majority of apps I use on mobile are available for tablets. However, if you’re in the UK you will miss out on the BBC iPlayer app and 4oD app, and now that Flash has ditched Android (waves fist at) we can’t even use those services via their websites any more. For the mean time your only option is Netflix, Youtube and Google Movies; which isn’t the end of the world, really.
And that’s everything that’s wrong with it, i.e. not a lot.
The quality of the casing is superb. The backing looks like a rubbery texture on pictures, but it’s actually hard plastic that somehow still feels like rubber. The one thing I did pick up on is the metal-effect bevel around the edge. It’s not metal – it’s plastic. But what could’ve been tacky turned out ok, so I have no quarrel with thou bevel.
Like the iPad the speaker is on the back and exactly where your hand is when you hold it. But since the speaker grill stretches across almost the entire width of the device there’s no chance of covering it up completely, like you would on an iPad.
The camera is 1.7MP, which isn’t amazing, but you’ll only be using it for [low quality] video calls so it’s more than ok.
And thank the lord, there is no crummy, useless, ugly single button on the front – just gorgeous, adaptable, customizable software keys. I say customizable.. they’re not, but if you’re willing to root the tablet you have the freedom to do anything you like with the keys.
The Operating System
I’ve been using Jelly Bean on my Galaxy Nexus since it was leaked, and it is such a vast improvement over previous versions. Granted, Ice Cream Sandwich was fast, but Jelly Bean is on a new level, and installed onto a tablet there is no exception. One of the things the iPad is known for is it’s speed and glide-e-ness, and finally Android is there with them.
The Nexus 7 doesn’t seem to use a tablet version of Jelly Bean, but the phone version. It looks like a giant phone, especially since the home screen forces you into portrait mode. It certainly makes more sense, but if the operating system can look like a phone it does make you wonder why you can’t install apps designed for phones.
Overall the Nexus 7 is a great little tablet for it’s 7-inch market. If you’re looking for a cheap tablet to read with your only option is this. It’s 1280×800 HD screen is perfect for watching movies on too, but whether 7 inches is too small is up to you – it may be! In which case, if you’d rather a larger tablet with the same build quality you need to get an iPad (at least until Jelly Bean appears on other tablets).