This is a real world review of the Google Nexus 7, based my first 4 weeks of owning it.

Nexus Close up

Did I research the purchase?  No. The previous evening I’d picked up my wife’s iPad and been told to get off. That was it. My mind was then made up to buy a tablet of my own, and previously in the week the Nexus 7 had been announced, and the pricing also had been very recently announced at £159, leading to the belief (at the time) that Google would lose money on each item they sold.
I plumped for the 8gb version for £159 and got the £15 Google play voucher tagged to my Google account.

Alternatives researched:

  • iPad 2 16gb – £329.00
  • “new” iPad 16gb – £399.00
  • Sumvision Astro+ 7”  – £79.99

Ok, so why did I reject the above?

Ipad2. Too expensive, not the latest tech. “new” iPad ticked the same boxes, and was even more expensive.  The cheap option at the other end of the spectrum was the Sumvision Astro+ at £79.99 but the reviews I’d seen online weren’t that favourable compared with the Nexus, which at the time was receiving a lot of airtime from pretty much every media outlet out there…..

HARDWARE:

So, what do you get for your £145 from Google?

  • 7” IPS capacitative touch screen
  • Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core processor
  • One camera. Facing you. VGA
  • Bluetooth, wireless  (B/G/N)
  • 1gb RAM and 8Gb Flash storage
  • GPS, NFC, compass, accelerometer
  • Random 4 gold pins

Physically: nice to hold in the hand, you can actually hold the Nexus for long periods of time without it being a chore, and surprisingly the device actually fits in a pocket of my jeans – in the back pocket or the front. The weight isn’t too bad either, obviously it’s heavier than a mobile phone, but infinitely more transportable than an Apple iPad for example.

nexus 7 Features

There is also a headphone and micro USB charger port on the bottom, I’ve not used headphones with it yet, but I guess it’s only a matter of time

I also dropped mine a week into ownership – bit irritated that the OEM cover wasn’t available at launch – seems like a really daft thing – even today the official Nexus cover *still* isn’t available.

Anyway, it was on my lap in the car, forgot while I was finishing off a conversation and then let it slip off on to the floor. Screen smashed? No way – gorilla glass kept it safe, however I do now have a couple of neat dents on the bezel – the back is also unscathed, being a soft kind of rubbery plastic – shall we call it prastic?

There are also 4 random gold pins on the bottom left of the device, I assume these are the same as the Galaxy Nexus’ pins, used for a charging cradle, but as of yet, no official cases or stands have been released, which is strange as I’ve had the Nexus for over a month now.

nexus 7 onscreen

SOFTWARE/USING IT

Turning on the Nexus is a nice experience too, you’re given the Google splash screen followed by a big X in different colours which cycle round until the OS has loaded – in this case, Android Jellybean 4.1 (now on 4.1.1).  Incidentally the flashy X is the same shape X that’s imprinted onto the back of the Nexus 7, but it’s not as nice as the ice cream sandwich splash screen which looked really nice.

Anyone that has a Nexus phone will instantly feel at home with the Nexus 7, all the controls are in the same places except the screen is bigger, and there are six quick launch icons at the bottom of the screen instead of the usual four.

Jellybean is really a nice step forward, especially for those who are used to the Gingerbread or earlier iterations of Android – things really are very snappy, booting takes no time if you need to, and applications start really quick – just what you actually want – and this I think is just as much to do with the software, as the quad core Tegra processor (probably helps too, J)

PROBLEMS

Well, as I’m sure you may have read from some internet blogging sites, the screens can come a bit loose – I did drop mine and after that it seems to have developed a little squeak on the left – I put this down to me dropping it, but it could be an inherent design flaw…

The only fly in the ointment as far as the software is concerned is the fact that some programs don’t work on Jellybean – specifically BBC iplayer – a much used app on my wife’s iPad.  This is as much to do with Android dropping support for Adobe’s Flash, which the BBC uses to secure content – I gather that they’re working on the HTML5 version at the moment, but for now – and for novice users, iplayer is out. There is a workaround, but involves downloading unsigned Flash and iplayer APK’s (installable packages to the rest of us) and running them – I’m sure if you search the internet for “bbc iplayer working on android and how to, with files” something will come up

Apart from that, it’s a great little device, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.  However, the iplayer issue will probably irritate people a bit.

CONCLUSION

Ok, I’ve said my bit, I guess you all know how I feel about the Nexus, I probably wouldn’t have brought one if I  knew I wasn’t going to like it. So, time for the . . .

JamesScore:  9.5 excellent device, spoiled by software incompatibility

 

Image by: Domenic K

 

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