The Asus or Google Nexus 7 made a short but sweet visit to the tech2 labs and needless to say, we were more than merely curious to see just how good Google’s tablet would be. We've all had a chance to put the search giant's other devices to the test and so far we've been reasonably impressed with what we saw. So far, HTC and Samsung managed to make sure that Google's flagship devices in the Nexus series were above too much reproach and it was time to see if Asus could do the same with the tablet. We managed to get our hands on the new refreshed model of the Nexus 7 complete with 3G support, and here's our first impression.
Unboxing the Nexus 7
The form factor, unfortunately, is quite blah. It has that “if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all” type of design. Asus hasn’t quite managed to give it that edge that Samsung incorporated into the Nexus S or the subsequent Galaxy Nexus mobile devices. Like the generic tablets available in the market today, the Nexus 7 has a curved rear panel with a leathery finish. It lends a slightly refined and elegant feel to the device while providing a certain measure of grip, but also tends to make the tablet quite bulky. The aluminium sides don’t really add much to the device in terms of protection, but do make the device look a little slicker.
Micro SIM card slot for 3G
It is, thankfully, not a heavy device, so handling is quite easy. Like most other 7.0-inch tablets, the Nexus 7 will fit quite easily in your jacket or the rear pocket of your jeans, but don’t expect it to be inconspicuous. The volume and power/sleep buttons on the right side of the tablet have a little too much play in them, which made them feel a little loose. The SIM card slot is on the left side with the micro USB and 3.5mm earphone socket both located at the bottom.
The 7.0-inch display features a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, which keeps things sharp and crisp for video, viewing documents and surfing the web. The display is an LED backlit IPS panel that's protected with Corning Gorilla Glass to keep those pesky scratches at bay. Unlike Samsung’s Nexus mobile handsets, the Asus Nexus 7 doesn’t have an Oleophobic coating, so a few smudges tend to remain after excessive use. A micro fiber cloth will be real handy at this time; we suggest carrying one with you at all times.
Ports at the bottom
In the looks department, the Nexus 7 will not turn heads. You’d need to look loser if you were to pick it out of a line-up of Android tablets. However, when it comes to handling, the tablet proved to be quite comfortable to use for typing and or surfing the web, playing games etc.
With an NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset, 1GB RAM and a Quad Core CPU of the 1.2GHz variety, the Nexus 7 is relatively fast. Jelly Bean (Android 4.2.1) with Google’s Project Butter only enhances the overall usage and ensures smooth functionality of the tablet. This particular version of the Nexus 7 is equipped with a SIM Card slot (micro) that will allow you to easily access data, emails, social networking etc. on 3G while on the go in case you are nowhere near a Wi-Fi signal. Of course, Wi-Fi is also part of the tablet’s connectivity make up along with Bluetooth with A2DP and NFC.
Specifications look reasonably impressive
On the storage front, 32GB is all you'll have to contend with. Like other Nexus devices, this Nexus 7 offers no expansion option. The Wi-Fi + 3G edition is available only in this one specific model.
It’s rather disappointing that Asus has failed to include a better camera on the tablet or a rear primary option as well. You’re stuck with a forward facing 1.2MP camera for video or Skype calling. On the up side, at least it allows you to capture video in 720p.
We tested a few games on the device and while they ran quite smoothly, the same games looked and felt so much better on the iPad mini that we used as a comparison. What was rather odd was the constant presence of the Android convenience keys (Return, Home, Active Apps) still featuring at the bottom of the screen even while playing games and running other apps that would require the use of the full screen. It's quite a waste of usable display real estate.
Can't seem to shake the Android activity bar from the bottom
The Bottom line
So we’re looking at a 7.0-inch tablet priced at a whopping Rs. 28,000 that has no rear camera, doesn’t allow you to play some games in full screen and isn’t even as slim or sleek enough as some of the low budget options. Let’s also keep in mind that the Nexus 7, like all other Google branded hardware, won’t be launched in India in an official capacity, so warranties might not hold good here. Of course, it should not be a problem if you can get a piece via official retailers like Croma. Although there’s quite a bit to offer users in terms of hardware – and truth be told, it has a tremendous potential to deliver on all fronts – the Nexus 7 just doesn’t seem to be a fitting match for its price tag. Devices like the iPad mini (16GB Wi-Fi only) is priced at just Rs. 21,900 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 310, which is also 3G enabled, is priced at Rs. 19,500. With options like these, there’s really not much to consider.
However, if 3G is not really a feature you care too much about, you could always opt for the Wi-Fi only 16GB edition of the Nexus 7, which is also available and is priced considerably less at about Rs. 20,000. In this particular case, although most of the hardware specifications of Google's tablet far outweigh the competition, it still seems to be a tad on the pricier side when all you're really paying for is the power of the CPU and GPU chipsets.
Check out our comparison of these 3 tablets, viz. the iPad mini, the Galaxy Tab 2 310 and the Nexus 7 at this link here.
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