Google Nexus 7 Tablet Pros and Cons Review

Nexus 7 Tablet

This is a preliminary pros and cons review of the Google Nexus 7 tablet based on the early Nexus 7 reviews from around the web. I’ll post a full hands-on review later in July after the device is released. Check back then or subscribe to keep updated.

The entire landscape of Android tablets is going to change now that Google has unveiled its first tablet, which brings with it a lot of other firsts.

The Google Nexus 7 is the first tablet to run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and is the first 7-inch tablet to come with a NVIDIA quad-core Tegra 3 processor and have a higher resolution 1280 x 800 screen, as opposed to the 1024 x 600 and 800 x 480 screens more commonly used.

In short, the Google Nexus 7 tablet has a lot going for it, especially with the $199 price, but it’s far from perfect. Below is an outline of both the positives and negatives of the Google Nexus 7 tablet.

Nexus 7 Pros

Price. The 8GB model sells for $199 and the 16GB model sells for $249.

The Screen. In all the early reviews pretty much everyone unanimously agrees the the high resolution IPS screen is freakin’ awesome with its super-wide viewing angles, highly-responsive touchscreen, ultra-crisp text, and vivid colors. With 216 pixels per inch and access to ALL the ereader apps in the Google Play store, there’s no question the Nexus 7 makes for an excellent ereader, provided you don’t want to read outdoors in bright light of course. The one negative you will hear about the screen, like with all LCDs, is that it is highly reflective.

It’s Fast. As expected, the 1.3GHz Tegra 3 processor delivers fast performance and is great for video games. According to benchmark tests, the Nexus 7 is among the fastest Android tablets on the market and is one of the best for playing video games.

Buttery smooth. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean has gotten a lot of under-the-hood performance enhancements to make everything smoother and more responsive.

Lightweight. Most reviewers comment that the Nexus 7 is light and comfortable to hold at just under 12 ounces. That bodes well for ereading.

Build Quality. Most reviews point out that the Nexus 7 feels solid and sturdy and has a pleasant textured back, nothing like most cheap tablets. And it uses scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass.

Android Beam. The Nexus 7 supports Google’s NFC-based technology for sending files to other tablets with the same technology by simply touching the two devices together. You can send maps, web pages, photos, and other files.

Nexus 7 Cons

Limited Memory. The biggest negative is by far the fact that Google decided not to include a memory card slot on the Nexus 7. Worse, according to early reports you cannot even connect a card or external drive with a USB cable, despite the fact connecting a keyboard and mouse works just fine.

No HDMI or MHL. Sadly, there’s no way to connect the Nexus 7 to a TV to watch movies or play games. Even cheap $89 Android tablets like the IdolPad Plus can do that so it’s a pretty big oversight.

The Bezel. Some reviewers like the minimalistic design, but most agree that there’s really nothing special about it. It’s rather plain and ordinary. Some complain the top and bottom bezels are a little too thick, making the tablet needlessly long. Looking at the pictures, I would have to agree.

Lack of Apps. There’s no shortage of apps available in the Android Market with over 600,000, but there is a distinct lack of apps that were designed for use on tablets with high-end hardware. There aren’t any games that can push the limit and really show off the Tegra 3 processor.

Content Consumption Oriented. Given the lack of ports and memory expansion, the Google Nexus 7 is designed to be a content consuming device much more so than a content creating device. The Nexus 7 is centrally designed for people to buy things from the Google Play store.

Content Price. Most reviewers that did their homework point out the fact that content selection is very similar among Amazon, Apple, and Google, but Amazon’s prices are often lower. Then most reviewers neglect to mention that pretty much all of Amazon’s content is available on the Nexus 7 too, except instant videos and prime ebooks.

No Landscape Mode for Homescreen. Hopefully Google changes this once the device is actually released because being forced to use portrait mode for the homescreen is super lame, especially when tablets with 16:10 ratio screens just seem more natural to hold in landscape mode for most tasks.

Hidden Costs. This one I found out myself when I went to pre-order a Nexus 7. They make you pay an extra $13.99 for shipping. Add sales tax on and it’s a good $20 to $25 more than the hyped $199. And if you go with the 16GB model, $275 isn’t a very good price for a 7-inch tablet without a memory card slot or HDMI port, considering the tablets you can get in the $300-$350 range.

To Buy or Not to Buy?

The Google Nexus 7 is the most hyped tablet of the year so far, and it has a lot to live up to. Virtually all the early reviews say the Nexus 7 is the tablet to buy if you are looking for a tablet with a 7-inch screen.

The Nexus 7 is clearly geared toward being more of a competitor to the hugely successful Kindle Fire and cheap Android tablets in general than the Apple iPad. Right now the Nexus 7 has the Kindle Fire beat on specs and features, and it sells for the same price, so it’s really a no-brainer which one to pick. Or is it?

Amazon’s track record with product support and customer service is much, much better. Google, on the other hand, has their hands in so many different places and is notorious for dropping their creations without a thought. It makes one wonder if the Nexus 7 will even matter at all to them 4 or 5 years from now.

It’s not always about the specs. Personally, I think the high resolution IPS screen is the big news with the Google Nexus Tablet, and it one of the main reasons to choose it over the Kindle Fire or other budget tablet.

But too much is being made about the Tegra 3 processor. For most users the difference between dual-core and quad-core is only going to matter for high-end games. It makes no difference whatsoever for reading ebooks, email, watching videos, playing music, and a number of other tasks. Sure, transitions and load times are faster and web pages may load a second or two faster, but the overall usability is going to be the same.

In the end, the Google Nexus 7 is a really nice tablet for the price, but the lack of a memory card slot, rear-facing camera, and HDMI port keep it from being a well-rounded tablet.

Something like the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 that has all that and more for $249 may end up being the better tablet for some. Heck, two months from now there’s a good chance we’ll see something very similar spec-wise to the Nexus 7, but with an SD card slot and HDMI port. Plus Amazon is expected to unveil an updated version of the Kindle Fire at any time. Given that, there’s a good chance the Nexus 7’s glory days could be short lived.

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22 Responses to “Google Nexus 7 Tablet Pros and Cons Review”

  1. What makes the Nexus 7 look good is that it is the first of the 2012-13 crop of Android Mediapads to be released. Of course it is going to look good next to last year’s models.
    But when the rest of the new model year releases…
    I’ll be shocked if anybody is still raving about it in 3-6 months.

  2. A well-researched blog. I like how you summed up the important information from other reviews. It seems Asus pushed the Nexus 7 as part of a business deal with Google. Unfortunately, their rumored much better Memo 370T has been put on hold.

    But, as you pointed out, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 is already available and with more features (memory slot, rear-facing camera). It seems ridiculous to spend $200 or more on any device that lacks something as basic as a memory slot (IMHO).

  3. A couple of clarifications and qualifications are in order.

    While the shipping and tax come to about $25, it comes with a $25 credit on google play.

    While there is no out of the box support for external memory devices, according to several posts I have seen, if you root the device and install StickMount it will read and write to drives plugged into the micro usb port.

    While there is no hdmi out, the N7 is DLNA capable, so buying a cheap dlna media streamer like the $50 Sony n200 lets you wirelessly stream media to your TV.

  4. Does anyone know how to verify that you will be getting the $25 Google Play credit? I pre-ordered mine on the day it was released, but I don’t remember getting an email or notice that I got the special offer.

  5. I agree the most important feature of the Nexus 7 hardware is the screen. I hope there are ways to reduce brightness without blurriness which I experience on my cellphone with the screen filter app. I also think 7 inch tablets are made to be portable and are geared to accomplish useful tasks opposed to being submerged into consuming content like a laptop or large screen tablet.

    Equally as important, is the streamlined path to Google for OS updates. Hopefully, Google will update the device in a quicker fashion than Verizon with my cellphone. The Jelly Bean features I am very interested in are offline voice dictation and offline maps. I almost went with the IPad 3 LTE because I wanted these features everywhere.

    I plan on using the $25 dollar credit towards an office suite, dictate my work documents, and share documents via my wi-drive. I am not sure if this is an appropriate use of the Nexus 7, but its my plan. I view the price of the Nexus 7 to be about $175 ($225 – $25(playstore credit) – $10 (Dark Moon) – $15 (Magazines, Popular Science, Food, etc)). I am sure the content is valued higher, but its what I would be willing to pay.

    Just my 2 cents for what is worth.

  6. I have had a Nook Tablet since December and have pre-ordered the Nexus 7. I rooted the Nook Tablet and have Kindle and Google books apps on it plus many other Android apps. I used it for displaying my photos, web-surfing & displaying my photos. I really like (1) the relative non-glossy screen (very highly rated by Displaymate.com), (2) the accurate colors for photos, and (3) the ergonomic design. I dislike the clunkiness of the rooted Android 2.3 interface compared to Ice Cream Sandwich and B&N’s walled garden approach. The 16 GB cap on the Nexus 7 worries me, but what takes up most storage on my Nook is music, not books or photos, so I will have to be more selective with music. As for accessing additional storage through StickMount, my understanding is people say that should be possible, but it has not yet been verified? I agree other OEMs may come up with better devices but lacking the ability to subsidize costs with content sales like Amazon, Google and B&N, I doubt they can do this at close to this price. This seems to be ASUS’s offering for awhile. Samsung has its Galaxy Tab 2 which has the described benefits, but on other forums there were many Galaxy Tab 2 owners who were selling their tablets to get the Nexus 2 so there is certainly no consensus that is a better tablet.

  7. Oops. I meant to say I use my Nook Tablet for e-reading rather than viewing my photos — again!

  8. Is a 7 inch tablet with HD screen suitable for reading technical books (which usually are bigger than normal books) or I should get 10 inch?

    • You are going to have to do a lot of zooming on a 7″ screen, which is fine, but you won’t regret getting a 10″ screen instead.

    • For technical books I would highly consider the kindle keyboard with Duokan os. Its been the best investment I have made thus far.

      I really find backlit screens to harsh for long time reading, so an eink screen is up my ally. Duokan lets you reformat your pdfs and crop the edges. Depending on the PDF you can use Duokan’s smart layout and get text-to-speech on PDFs.

      The only downside I do not like about Duokan is no web browser. Browsing the web is painful on an eink screen so far. That is why I am buying the Nexus 7 and will use screen filter app to lower brightness.

      Thats my 2 cents for what it is worth.

  9. I wish there were more 4×3 8″ tablets out there. Interesting thing I’ve learned about that size. The long dimension on a 4×3 8″ tablet is almost identical to the long dimension on a 16×9 7″ screen. The short side of a 4×3 8″ screen is the same as the short side of a 16×9 10″ screen.

    It’s the perfect compromise. On an 8″ screen a 16×9 video will be exactly the same size as on a 7″ 16×9 tablet, while a 4×3 photo will be exactly the same size on an 8″ screen as on a 16×9 10″ screen.

    Unfortunately, only the bargain brands make an 8″ screen. I might consider the 8″ Archos 80 G9. It gets kinda mixed reviews, but seems to offer more than any other tablet of any brand for the price.

  10. At the price of $199, Google Nexus 7 is surely worth a buy ignoring all the drawbacks like back camera and much more.

    • Yeah and especially when you factor in the free $25 gift card Google gives out with every purchase to buy whatever cool stuff you want from the Play store. I’ve been cashing it in already on some cool games to test out the quad core processor. $25 goes a long way for apps when most are less than a couple of bucks.

  11. I received my Nexus 7 this afternoon. I am comparing it to my rooted Nook Tablet and have encountered what I consider to be a major problem.

    Reading an e-book using Kindle for Android, Nook for Android, of Nook on the Nook Tablet, the text fills the full Nook screen. Not so on the Nexus 7.

    The text to read seems to occupy nearly 1 inch of less height. Problem #1 – the LCD “navigation buttons” on the bottom of the Nexus screen may fade to black, but they do not disappear, so something like 73 pixels are wasted there. Same thing for the notification bar at the top of the screen, although that is less tall. To add insult to injury, the apps then show me the book title on the top of every page with extra white space above and below that.

    Comparing the same book page in the Nexus 7 and my rooted Nook tablet, I get about 1 inch less text height on the Nexus. This is also true in landscape mode, where the relative impact of the lost height is much greater, rendering the difference between the two devices even greater, and landscape reading almost useless.

    As far as I can tell, there is no way to make reading software full screen. There is no way to make the navigation bars auto-hide. It just sucks.

    And the Nexus 7 has a glossy screen that is very reflective and a fingerprint magnet, although that might be curable with a screen skin.

  12. I picked up the N7 today at Staples; $249 16gb w/$25 credit when you setup a Gmail account.

    So far its quite nice but found two things I do not like: 1) No landscape for Home page; 2) a problem with e-mails.

    N7 allows a Gmail account and you can setup other e-mail accounts, however when you display these other e-mail messages it will not display any images and there is no setting which permits displaying them.

    While I’m not sure of this, the setting may not be working as intended by programmers; just a guess though.

    If anyone has seen this problem and found an answer, please post it.

    Thanks

  13. I realize I slightly overstated my complaint about the navigation buttons taking up too much screen space on the Nexus 7 compared to other tablets. These seems like a generic Jelly Bean issue. The non-hiding navigation buttons appear also with Ice Cream Sandwich, though not taking up quite so much space (particularly on a 10″ tablet). I guess my rooted Nook Tablet running Android 2.3 is the odd one out with the full screen display of text in Nook or Kindle for Android.

  14. Google has a UPDATE and with that installed you can turn on e-mail pictures.

    You must do it sender by sender, not so sure that is best, but it is workable.

    I never expected a UPDATE so soon, it may have fixed things I haven’t yet found.

    Go Google.
    Frank

  15. Also, once you sign up for Google wallet it gives you a $10 credit to the prepaid Google wallet card. I bought the GNex in May and when I opened the Google wallet account it have $10, so I was very surprised that I got another $10 credit on the N7……so that’s a pretty good deal, $25 credit to play store, free movie, free magazines and book, free music, and free $10 in your Google wallet.

  16. Is anyone finding that some pictures, like on Facebook, pictures that people post, are very blurry, almost fuzzy, and hard to make out? I thought maybe it was the pictures but when I look at them on my phone they are clear. They almost look stretched out. Is there a setting that I’m missing? I googled this issue and nothing pops up. If it’s just my device I would like to exchange it before the return policy with staples runs out. Thanks in advance.

  17. How do you replace battery?

  18. You say you cannot connect extra storage but what about the OTG (On The Go)cable? I bought one with 4 USB ports for ~$18 from Samsung Service Centre although there are cheaper with a single port. I usually use 2 x 32 Gb USB drives with it although I’m but haven’t tried to add a USB keyboard and mouse.
    The biggest con is the Sound quality which you don’t mention.
    But I love my Nexus 7 (pre-2013 version)it’s great!