Last year Google, with some help from Asus, released its first generation Nexus 7 tablet. It was an inexpensive ($199) way to get into the Android eco-system. Quickly it became the most popular tablet not named iPad. It was small and portable, fitting in most pockets, while still packing a punch with a quad core processing chip. A big selling point of the Nexus brand of devices is that they are the first to receive Android software updates. The Nexus 7 (2012) was indeed the first device to ship with Android 4.1. It was a solid device which received much acclaim, but some improvements were needed to its 2013 offering in order to become a more well rounded tablet.
This past July Google released the updated Nexus 7 (2013) in 16GB ($229), 32GB ($269), and 32GB LTE ($349) variations.. This tablet would prove to be one of the most sought after tech products of 2013.
- The screen is vastly improved over last year’s model. The Nexus 7’s (2013) resolution is now 1920×1200 compared to 1280×800 in the 2012 model. Colors really jump out at you and it makes reading text a much more delightful experience.
- Watching videos on this screen is great in landscape orientation. Because it has a 16:10 aspect ratio there is much less letter boxing on this device than say an iPad mini.
- It’s super light. At just 290 g it is easy to hold for long periods of time. It’s a tablet that you could use one handed for many tasks with ease.
- It’s form factor makes it easy to take anywhere. I had no problem fitting this is my jacket pocket. It even fit in my back jeans pocket, although it stuck out a little.
- Android 4.3 runs very smoothly out of the box. There are no hiccups when scrolling quickly and at least for the moment, the processor is more than capable of powering this device.
- Many people will tell you they don’t like the build quality of the Nexus 7. While it doesn’t compare to the aluminum and chamfered edges of Apple’s iPad, for the $229 starting price frankly I don’t expect it to. I enjoy holding it and my clammy hands are a bit less sweat prone than usual.
- Using your standard social networking apps- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram- are all enjoyable experiences.I don’t feel like I’m giving anything up by using the Nexus 7.
- The speakers were surprisingly good for a tablet this size.
- If you are immersed in Google’s eco-sysyem (Gmail, Drive, etc.) it is easy to set up and get yourself going.
The Not So Good
- The top and bottom bezels are huge. While they certainly provide some functionality while holding in landscape orientation, they take away from the look of the device.
- I have good eyesight but even I found it uncomfortable to read text in the web browser in portrait orientation. The problem is that when you turn into landscape hardly any of a particular web page shows on the screen. Lots of scrolling is necessary.
- Battery life seemed just okay. Google says to expect 9 hours of battery life and sometimes this appeared to hold true. On some days I found that the Nexus 7 lost a large percentage of its battery just sitting in sleep mode. This is likely due to GPS issues that many have mentioned but for your average consumer it could be a problem that never gets fixed.
- The Google Play Store still lags behind Apple’s App Store. If you just want popular apps like Facebook, Netflix, and Hulu+ you will be fine. But if your needs require more specialized apps check the Google Play Store before you purchase the Nexus 7.
- If you are looking to do anything other than watch Netflix or check your twitter feed it is hard for me to recommend this tablet. Yes, I found it a great way to catch up on old seasons of The Office, but if you want more from your tablet you might want to look at some larger screened alternatives.
Should You Buy?
Taking price into consideration, I think this is the best Android tablet currently on the market. It is fast, portable, and has a great screen. If money is the most important factor in your decision, you’d be hard pressed to find a better device than this. There are even some great Cyber Monday deals going on right now that make it an even better buy. Just remember that the shelf life of this device is likely a year or two at most. If you’re willing to spend more and just want the best product period, I suggest you look elsewhere. But whatever you decide the Nexus 7 is definitely worth considering for yourself or a loved one this holiday season.