The list of tablets that I would consider owning is very short. For one, it tends to exclude anything under 10-inches. Which is almost everything that has been made in the last year or so. The only exception would be the Nexus 7, or so I thought.
More after the break
At a resolution of 1200 x 1920, the Nexus 7 is admirable in what it achieves for the price point. Price is going to be a recurring theme in this review.
The display is a little dark, and even colours feel somewhat muted and dull. The effect is more pronounced with the brightness set at maximum. That isn’t to say that the display itself is dim. On the contrary, it can be bright enough to be used in direct sunlight if you want.
That being said, icons reasonably sharp, with some slight blurring around the edges. Text on the other hand is displayed well, and reading notes or email is very comfortable. Ideally, this is probably the strength of a 7-inch tablet. Because you are not going to convince me that I should be watching shows on anything less than 14-inches.
However, as an ebook reader, the duller colours make sense as it allows for staring at the screen longer without getting eye strain. Unfortunately, it means that reading comics is out of the question. Such a pity really.
I like matte surfaces. They are more pleasant to handle and provide a stronger grip. More importantly, they don’t scratch as easily as glossy plastic does. On the same note, the Nexus 7 does have a nicely matte finishing on the back.
On the front, there is quite a bit of extra bezel around the screen. It might be a waste of space, but I can’t really tell without opening everything up and checking inside. Not that the extra surface area hurts. It’s nice to be able to get a solid grip on the edges while playing games. One tends to get carried away sometimes, especially with certain sports titles.
Asus helpfully added two sets of speakers to the Nexus 7, possibly to increase the audio quality while watching shows. Unfortunately, the bottom speaker is divided in two by the micro-USB port. The split creates a very strange sensation of having two small speakers on one end, and a large one at the other.
Thankfully, it doesn’t affect the audio balance; although Asus makes the traditional mistake of putting the speakers on the back of the device. Or could it be that HTC has patented front facing speakers? Somebody should look into that and get all tablets to feature sound that is directed at the user. Then again, like everyone else, I use my tablets with earphones.
As my esteemed editor pointed out, benchmarks prove nothing about how good a device is. I am inclined to believe him. Especially since there have been accusations of benchmark padding going about.
After using the Nexus 7 for a while, it’s safe to say that it works as intended. A comfortable machine for surfing the internet and reading. Applications launch fairly quickly; performance brought on by the Snapdragon S4 Pro chip inside. Although it seems to run out of memory when reading too many comics at a go. It could just be the app I was using, but the 2GB of RAM shouldn’t have run out after issue 5. Or it could have just been trying to save me from the terrible writing of DC’s Worlds’ Finest.
Aside from that, the experience is on par with any other flagship tablet. Switching between apps is smooth and quickly done, while battery life greatly depends on what you use it for. There’s about 7 to 8 hours of life if you’re constantly checking social media or receiving messages, but that can be stretched to whole week if you are like me and tend to only use a tablet sporadically.
At 5 megapixels, it’s not entirely headline material. But at least it exists now. That’s still an improvement. However, the picture quality isn’t anything to write home about. It’s grainy with plenty of artefacts. Great for the amateur cryptozoologist, nothing too good for those who want to take pictures.
The forward facing camera isn’t much better either. At only 1.2 megapixels it’s mostly practical for video calls and not much else. With that in mind, the Nexus 7 does have an LTE version which is capable of extremely high data rates. So why not bump the camera up a little? It can’t be completely a question of keeping costs down. This sort of thing can be done.
In any case, smartphones are easier. Thus rendering most of the camera arguments moot.
The Nexus 7 works as intended, a fancy ebook reader. It’s a little lacking when reading comics, but regular monochrome manga won’t be affected. Movies would probably be better off on a proper screen, due to the dimness of the display. A dimness that reduces eye strain while reading. Aside from using it for reading, the internal specifications of the Nexus 7 will run just about anything. However, there is a certain lack of fluidity in the programs; a slight concession to the price point.