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An Honest Review of the Nexus 7

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Peter Bailey

Freelance Wordpress Developer in London ( @peabay
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Check out: HTC One Review

Finally got my hands on a Nexus 7 – the tablet that has seemingly nothing wrong with it and commended by the most vile of Apple fanboys.

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.

Fewer Apps

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 Hardware

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).

Posted 19th Jul 2012
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  • freddie

    Is it possible to use 4od if not will there be a solution in the future

    • Peter Bailey

      There is no Android 4oD app and with the lack of Flash now on Android you can’t even watch it in the browser.

  • I have had 2 of these in the last 3 months and have now got a refund due to unresponsive Very very warm screen. I thought I would give android a try seems as I am an iPhone user but I’m going to buy an ipad as my partner has not had either of these issues.

  • Ashley Alston

    I just got this tablet, I have an iPhone so fancied something different for my tablet… the only thing I’m dissapointed with so far is not being able to get BBC iPlayer or 4oD… but so far so good!!x

  • Rich

    you can turn off portrait lock with the toggle on the notifications bar

  • my buddy at work just got his Nex7.
    it’s great, but the speaker is REALLY REALLY bad. distorts even at low volume.

    • Peter Bailey

      I don’t have any problems with it. I expect it will naturally distort a bit since the speaker is on the back. I find cupping my hand around the spaker helps with sound.

  • Gridlock Manifesto

    I didn’t see anything about the battery life, so did you dim
    the screen and have more battery as a result?
    That was my major concern after reading other reviews. I especially like the powerful processor and
    small size, which is better for portability.
    I stopped taking my Galaxy Tab to work at Dish because my coworker
    always wanted to borrow it, and now I don’t take it anywhere else either since
    it is so large. I want to start watching
    more live and recorded TV from my Sling Adapter at home, which uses the Dish
    Remote Access App. My wife uses her iPad
    with the app, and she loves it because we watch more TV than we otherwise would
    be able to. I think the “7” is a great
    solution to that problem.

    • Peter Bailey

      Haven’t noticed any battery problems. The Battery Left app is predicting 14 hours of battery life. 3G is usually the battery killer when travelling, and since the Nexus 7 doesn’t have it the battery doesn’t drain as fast.

      • Gridlock Manifesto

        That’s good to know. That changes everything for me.

      • Peter Bailey

        Just for the record, It’s lasted 19hr25min with 21% batter left today after moderate use (with gaming).