Nexus 7 tablet: What you need to know

Once you’ve read our guide make sure to check out our review of Google’s Nexus 7.

The first Google branded tablet to hit the market is the Nexus 7. Find out all the important details right here.

The latest batch of announcements from Google has stirred up plenty of excitement. Google I/O 2012 was quite an event. A raft of updates and new products has got the tech world talking. Top of the bill is the attractively priced Android tablet, the Nexus 7.

What is the Nexus 7?

It’s basically a 7 inch Android tablet running the latest version of the platform, Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). Designed as an accessible and affordable option for everyone, the Nexus 7 is aggressively priced at $200 for the 8GB version and $250 for the 16GB version.

Primarily the Nexus 7 is a portable entertainment device. You can use it to watch movies or TV shows, play video games, read books or magazines, and listen to music. Since it runs Android, you’ll access that entertainment through Google Play. You can download and run apps/games as well, or use it as a second screen for web browsing, social media, messaging, and email. That list extends to video chatting thanks to a microphone and a front facing camera. Being a Google device, it comes loaded with Google apps like Gmail and Chrome, which are integrated and can be synced across your tablets, computers, and smartphones.

In terms of connectivity, the Nexus 7 is a Wi-Fi device that offers Bluetooth for audio and NFC for transferring files to other Android devices using something Google calls Android Beam (tap two Android 4.0+ devices together to try it out).

Look and feel

Nexus 7 case

Asus is the manufacturer behind Google’s new tablet and has already announced that some Nexus 7 accessories are on the way. The tablet appears to be well built. It is 0.41 inches thick, 7.8 inches tall and 4.7 inches wide. The tough, Gorilla Glass display dominates the front and the thick bezel is designed to accommodate comfortable holding without your thumb obscuring the screen.

The back is covered by an easy-grip, black rubber panel with a stippled pattern which was apparently designed to mimic “Steve McQueen style” driving gloves, according to Android design chief Matias Duarte’s chat with The Verge. That may be a bit of a stretch, but weighing in at just under 12 ounces, it shouldn’t be a burden to hold for extended periods.

Let’s get technical

The display measures 7 inches with a resolution of 1280×800 pixels (216 pixels per inch). It is an LED-backlit IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen. It has good viewing angles and is readable in various lighting conditions, indoors and out.

The processor is a 1.3 GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 and the Nexus 7 has 1GB of RAM. There is 8GB or 16GB of internal storage, but unfortunately no microSD slot, making adding memory difficult. The front facing camera is 1.2-megapixels, but you won’t find a rear camera on the Nexus 7.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC, as well as a microphone, accelerometer, GPS support, magnetometer, and gyroscope are also present.

The battery is rated at 4325mAh and people are reporting between 6 and 10 hours of battery life, depending on usage.

Latest Android Platform

Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) is a general upgrade for Android, rather than a complete overhaul. The platform runs more smoothly, it is easier to customize your home screen, and the notifications system has been improved.

Google Nexus 7 tablet new widgets

The really big news is Google Now. Widely touted as a Siri-beater, Google Now can learn about your life and assist you in various ways. You can also ask it questions and it will do its best to answer them correctly.

If you enable the AI assistant, it will learn what you are interested in by observing you. It will learn from your searches, your movements, and your calendar. It effectively spies on you, but only so it can offer helpful tips. You’ll get reminders for appointments with pertinent traffic information about reaching your destination on time, the latest score for what it thinks is your favorite team, and if you are waiting at a train station it might throw up a schedule for you to check. The more info you put in, the more helpful it will be.

Sizing Up the Competition

google nexus 7 tablet unveiled

The Nexus 7 might be the best small Android tablet in the world right now. We’ve even compared the Nexus 7 with the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet and you’ll see that it wins hands down. It is faster, it has a better display, and it boasts the very latest version of Android. If you want to take advantage of killer features like Google Now in the short term then the Nexus 7 is the only tablet that will allow you to do so.

Few have been bold enough to suggest that the Nexus 7 is an iPad competitor. The consensus seems to be that Google needs to release a Nexus 10 for that. However, if content consumption is the point of a tablet then there’s no reason the Nexus 7 can’t compete. It should certainly sew up the budget end of the tablet market – Apple may need to release a 7-inch iPad to compete on that front.

The main weakness right now is probably apps. The iPad has plenty of apps and games that are optimized for use on the device, offering a highly polished experience. The Nexus 7 might be capable of running all 600,000 Android apps and games on offer, but the majority of them have been designed with a smartphone in mind. Is this really a major problem? For some people maybe, but it’s hardly a deal-breaker and we can expect more developers to target the Nexus 7 as it takes off.

To Buy or Not To Buy?

That is definitely the question. You can pre-order the Nexus 7 right now and it will start shipping this month (July). In order to sweeten the deal and tempt you further Google is offering $25 credit to spend in the Google Play store and some free content, including Transformers: Dark of the Moon, for early adopters.

Could this be the device to kick start Android’s tablet presence? Could it be the first Google branded device to be a real hit? Yes it could, but only time will tell. What we can say with certainty is that you won’t find a better tablet at this price on the market right now.