Google's Nexus 7 Tablet: Feature-Packed, Responsive, Reasonably Priced

Apple has to be concerned about the Nexus 7, a fast, feature-loaded new tablet. A lot of potential buyers who might be on the fence about iPad pricing are going to be swayed by saving precious dollars here.

The first thing you think when you pick up Google's new Asus-built, Android Jelly Bean 4.1-powered Nexus 7 tablet is this: Wow, this is cool-looking, it's light, it feels comfortable in my hand, and it only costs ... what? $199, that's what.


My second thought was this: Google must be selling this as a loss leader for some other product or service. But it's not; $199 is the real price for a WiFi-configured Nexus 7.

It won't be much of a profit center for Google, at least at first. The first estimate of the Nexus 7 production cost is $184 per unit, based on a teardown by TechInsights and first reported by gadget website Slashgear.

When you press the "on" button at the upper right holding it vertically, it fires up and is ready to go in exactly 30 seconds, so this offers a clue as to its responsiveness. And the Nexus 7 is indeed quick to respond€”both in delivering the feature or service requested (browser, email, video, music, etc.) and in its touch control. Its 1.3GHz, Tegra 3 quad-core processor and 1GB RAM, the most powerful engine yet for a tablet PC, has something to do with that.

Generous Screen Resolution


Nexus 7 also features a generous screen resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels, a 1.2-megapixel camera, 8GB or 16GB storage and a battery that can power up nine hours of high-definition video. There's no question this tablet packs a lot of power into its 7-inch screen Apple has to be concerned about the Nexus 7. A lot of potential buyers who might be on the fence about iPad pricing ($500 and above) are going to be swayed by saving precious dollars here.

Here is the Nexus 7 spec page for quick reference.

Nexus 7 features I believe are the most important to spotlight:

Responsiveness: The touch action is quick and accurate, equal to my iPad and better than other Android and BlackBerry devices I have used.

Battery life: With nine to 10 hours, it's excellent. I actually kept it on for about 11 hours before recharging€”although I did not use it for movie viewing, high-definition or otherwise.

Screen size and resolution: A 7-inch screen may be too small for older people and those with weaker eyes, but it seems adequate for most users. The screen brightness and resolution is exemplary; Google Earth and HD video look fabulous on this screen, for example.

Feature Set: Outstanding. Google has gone all-out to supply this and future devices with easy-to-use, practical applications (Live@Google, Google Events are examples) that people actually use on a regular basis.

Price: At $199, it is equal in cost to the Amazon Kindle Fire yet has many more advanced features. It is significantly less pricey (several hundred dollars less) than iPad and other Android tablets.

Some things I did not care for in the Nexus 7:

Wifi only, no 3G or 4G wireless connectivity.

The home screen: The tablet home screen shows not only application icons but also covers of books and magazines that are loaded on the device, such as a preloaded Robert Ludlum novel, Bruce Willis on the cover of Esquire magazine and a Transformer movie. Recommended apps, books, music and movies are also displayed when swiping across to a secondary home screen; in my view, these are simply ads, and I really don't want ads in my face on my device.
Nothing Windows: No Microsoft applications are available for Android devices; Google offers its own Web services, such as Google Docs, Picasa for photo storage and others.

Accelerometer: This view-balancing device is picky about when it decides to work. The normal view it offers is vertical; personally, I prefer a horizontal view most often. But I could not induce the device to change over during a browsing session, for example, or for simply navigating the device. Thankfully, it went horizontal for the movie I viewed, as it did for the camera. Know that the Nexus 7 isn't like the iPad, Motorola Xoom or others that allow a user to deploy any view desired.

Application store: The Google Play app store is improving in quantity and quality all the time but naturally has some catching up to do compared with Apple's store.

Bottom line: The Google Nexus 7 is highly recommended for excellent performance, feature set, battery life and pricing.

The Google Nexus 7 will start shipping to retailers and customers later this month.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...