Google first tablet market is Nexus 7, an Asus-made device which has impressed us no-end. Updated on 25/06/13.
Wielding Android 4.2 Jelly bean, a 7in IPS screen, a quad-core processor and a bargain price tag of £159, the Nexus 7 is a tablet which, at the least, deserves your consideration.
The Nexus 7 has been on the market for a while now; it's been almost a year since it launched. Over that time a number of rival tablets have arrived, most of which have arguably been copycat efforts.
Despite strong entries from the likes of Amazon with its Kindle Fire HD and Barnes&Noble with its Nook HD, the Nexus 7 is still our top pick for a budget tablet. The Nook HD is a strong contender with a higher resolution display and the recent addition of the Play Store. If you want expandable storage, it's worth taking a look at the Acer Iconia A1. See also: The 7 best tablets with expandable memory: what's the best tablet with an SD card slot?
Of course, if you do not want an Android tablet then the iPad mini is undoubtedly a great choice.
See also: Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) review.
Google Nexus 7 review: Design
As the name suggests the tablet has a 7in screen as is therefore a small tablet. The Nexus 7 is respectably thin at 10.9mm and very light at 336g. See also Group test: what's the best cheap tablet PC?
It's designed to be held in portrait mode predominantly and we found it very comfortable in one hand, in either orientation. You can easily reach right round the tablet with one hand, like you would with a smartphone. The pint-sized dimensions of 120 x 199mm mean you can also put the tablet in the back pocket of your jeans or the inside pocket of a jacket. See also: is the Nexus 7 a good deal?
The front is one piece of glass only interrupted by a camera and light sensor surrounded by a silver metal frame. The back of the Nexus 7 is a dark brown, effectively black, textured cover which has a rubbery feel. The finish on the rear cover provides a good amount of grip and feels nice to the touch.
Physical buttons and ports are minimal with a power button and volume rocker on the right hand edge while a microUSB port and headphone jack reside on the bottom of the tablet.
There's also a 4-pin connector at the bottom of the left hand edge for use with future accessories like a docking station and a pair of stereo speakers sit at the bottom of the rear cover.
Google Nexus 7 review: Build quality
We've come to expect tablets with a price tag under £200 to offer poor build quality. However, the Nexus 7 throws this trend out of the window. Google's tablet is well made and feels like a premium product, almost making us double check the price.
The scratch resistant Corning glass sits neatly flush with the metal frame and the same is true of the rear cover. The buttons and ports also feel solid, not cheap and nasty like we've come to expect from budget tablets.
One very small quibble we found was rippling on the screen at the top and bottom edges. This is something we saw on the HTC One X and happened when putting pressure on the display. We're not suggesting that everyone will be pushing the screen like it's one giant physical button but it is more worrying in terms of traveling with the Nexus 7 in a bag, for example.
Google Nexus 7 review: Hardware
The Nexus 7 has a surprisingly good line-up of hardware for a tablet with a budget price tag. For starters it uses the same nVidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor found in many high-end tablets. This is backed up by a healthy 1GB of RAM.
In the GeekBench 2 test the Nexus 7 scored highly with an average of 1452 over three runs. This reflects how smooth the tablet runs and performs. In our Egypt HD gaming test, it scored a solid framerate of 14fps.
The highlight for us is the 7in screen which uses a backlit in-plane switching (IPS) panel with a resolution of 1280 x 800. The display has excellent contrast, brightness and viewing angles. The level of detail is high thanks to the 1280 x 800 resolution giving a pixel density of 216ppi. This is higher than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) which costs more.
We found the screen good for browsing the web, playing games but even more so for watching films and other video content.
Storage is limited at either 8GB or 16GB with the latter costing £199 compared to £159. It's worth noting that the full quoted capacity won't be available since the Android operating system uses around 2GB of the space.
Unfortunately a cost cutting measures mean there's no microSD for expansion. This is probably the biggest let down about the Nexus 7. Asus told us there is less focus on local storage with content stored in the cloud. However, the Nexus 7 isn’t equipped with 3G capabilities.
There is 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi so you can tether the Nexus 7 to a smartphone for data on-the-go. Other connectivity includes Bluetooth, GPS and a near-field communications (NFC) chip.
In an attempt to save costs there's no rear facing camera present on the Nexus 7. This doesn't bother us much seeing as smartphone cameras tend to be better and more suitable to use. More importantly than a rear facing camera, there is a fairly decent 1.2Mp front facing camera for video chats, though.
There's no camera app pre-installed so you'll have to visit the Play Store to get some software to utilise the camera. We found the picture quality easily adequate for taking a few snaps and video calling.