Its hard to believe that the Nexus 7 has only been in the market for just about three weeks and yet it already feels like it’s a solid must-have for anybody who doesn’t have a tablet right now. You might ask why, but we can pretty much tell you that it has almost everything going for it – Quad-Core processor, HD screen, and stock Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to name a few. However, the most surprising “feature" is probably the price – $199 for the 8GB version and $249 for the 16GB. If you did the math, that puts it to about PHP 8,500 and PHP 10,500 respectively – a good half of what similar devices are priced right now. Its just too bad though that its not available in our country just yet – with rumors pegging late August if it will ever reach us in any official capacity. While we’re cautiously optimistic about its arrival, and the possible price it may turn out to be, we thought we’d hook you up with a video unboxing and quick look of its features and capabilities to bide the time – kind of like an appetizer, if you will.
One of our colleagues had the opportunity to grab himself a Google’s Nexus 7 unit, which we’ll be featuring here. You might be wondering though, “Well how did he get his Nexus 7 anyway?” Put simply, he got a hold of someone in the US and had one brought home – a classic strategy to anybody who’s ever had friends or family abroad. He was gracious enough to lend it to our care for a bit and let us do our trademark unboxing video and quick look – so here we are. If you’re not used to how this works, just click on the video below to start watching.
So as you may or may not have seen in the video, the Google Nexus 7 is the newest Nexus Android device in the family, and the first tablet Nexus as well. (The Motorola Xoom was launched with Honeycomb but isn’t a Nexus device.) In a nutshell it’s a 7” form-factor tablet with more-or-less near flagship specs, but skimping on a few optional features here and there. You still get a Quad-Core 1.3Ghz processor, 7” 1280×800 IPS display, 8/16GB storage, NFC connectivity, and a 1.2MP front camera. You do lose out though on a rear camera, MicroSD card slot, SIM/3G tray, and other things like HDMI output. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the price has gone to a ridiculously affordable $199 pricetag – and for Quad-Core devices that’s probably the cheapest thing out there. Match that with the fact that it’s the first device with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean pre-installed and you get a feature-minimalist, but fast and responsive handheld tablet.
While ICS isn’t any slouch in terms fluidity, Jelly Bean easily blows it out of the water
And fast and responsive it is indeed. While we’ve seen Quad-Core HD-screen Android phones and tablets before, they’ve all been using version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. While ICS isn’t any slouch in terms fluidity, Jelly Bean easily blows it out of the water. Its new “Project Butter” enhancements have taken the notorious Android Lag and made it feel much more responsive – so much so that yours truly would compare it to the response of a Windows Phone 7 device. (Yes, that’s both a compliment to WP7 and Jelly Bean.) The net effect here is that the OS leaves nothing to be desired – no taps will go unregistered; no interruptions when device starts syncing; and you get an overall positive experience like you’ve never experienced before.
And what an experience it is on a 7” device. Google has designed this form factor to play differently than its typical 10” counterparts. For one, its designed to be used mostly in portrait mode – the System Bar (back, home, task switcher) is located at the bottom of the screen while the Notification Bar is on top. Above it is a launcher bar that doesn’t look dissimilar to the launcher of an ICS phone – a button that’s typically on the upper right corner of ICS tablets. Why? Because it was designed to be used similarly to a large phone. Does it make much of a difference? We think so.
You can read while lying down without running the risk of the tablet dropping onto your face
With primarily a portrait style use case, you’ll notice that you hold onto it more like a small paperback book. (Pinched with fingers on a bezel or with your hands wrapped around the back.) In that sense, it also lends to being a perfect one-handed device to read formatted books, webpages, and content. While 10” tablets also have that capability and generally give us two pages (because of its less wider 4:3 ratio screen), it is often too heavy and bulky to hold with one hand for longer periods of time. And that’s another reason why the 7” form factor works: its really light. We reckon you can hold it at the end of your arms outstretched for hours without felling tired – which means you can read while lying down without running the risk of the tablet dropping onto your face.
Combining all those features together, the Nexus 7 makes for an amazing package that legitimizes the portrait tablet form factor. Of course, you can still watch videos and play games in landscape – and the portable form factor actually lends itself amazingly to be a handheld console. (Would you call a 10” tablet a handheld console? Nope.) The size and weight generally lets us mix it into our notebooks and pads whenever we’re out – easily letting us access the tablet like it was just a notepad waiting to be opened and written on. And with the new Jelly Bean OS being the most responsive and fluid Android OS to date, its also the tablet that simply works.
And with the new Jelly Bean OS being the most responsive and fluid Android OS to date, its also the tablet that simply works
Barring the need for a SIM slot (3G/LTE), expandable storage, rear camera, keyboard docks, or even something like HDMI output, the Nexus 7 is probably the best tablet we’ve ever used. (You can argue iPad if you like iOS, but we personally prefer this one.) We hope to high heavens that Asus brings it in, and brings it in with at least a modicum of reason when it comes to pricing. We’ll let you know as soon as we have concrete news of its arrival. Until then, you can watch out for more of our coverage (eg. a full review) which we’ll be posting soon. Stay tuned!