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It’s hard not to have high expectations of Google’s new Nexus 7—the original was a standout product that offered a satisfying Android experience in a highly portable 7-inch form factor, for less than $200. Now we’ve got the new Nexus 7 (is it us, or is it very annoying that it has the exact same name?) promising a number of refinements to the original, but also asking a higher price: $230 for 16GB, $270 for 32GB (reviewed here). You’re probably wondering if it’s still a compelling product.
Google and Asus again teamed up to make the new Nexus 7, and while the physical changes are subtle, they amount to a more sophisticated-looking device.
Like the first Nexus 7, this one was built for Google by Asus. As you’d expect from a tablet refresh, the new Nexus 7 is lighter than its older sib, down from 12 ounces to 10.22 ounces; it’s also narrower by about a quarter-inch, and ever-so-slightly thinner. The new dimensions make this Nexus 7 even easier to hold with one hand, and more notably, transportable in a pants pocket. Seriously. That is, if the pants aren’t too snug.
The 7.87x4.49x0.34-inch body frames a 7.02-inch, 1920x1080 IPS screen (up from the OG’s 1200x800), which offers 323ppi and a damned fine picture. The 16:10 aspect ratio seems a little long and thin at first (especially compared to an iPad mini’s 4:3), but ultimately it didn’t detract from our enjoyment of movies, apps, and books—all of which looked clear and vibrant on the device. Other welcome modifications include three speaker grills—two on the lower back of the device, one on the upper back—versus the single speaker on the back of the original. In other words, noticeably improved sound over the earlier version’s mono audio. The 2.0 device also adds a 5MP back-facing camera. The social acceptability of using a tablet as a camera notwithstanding, the Nexus 7 snaps pretty nice pics if the lighting isn’t too low (grainy) or too bright (washed out); it also sports autofocus and can shoot 1080p video. The 1.2MP front-facing camera from the original remains, although it’s been shifted to the right of center over the screen. The headphone jack has been moved from the bottom of the device to the top.
Of course, the Nexus 7’s guts have also been rejiggered, in ways that we approve of. This time around, the tablet sports a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro (with a quad-core CPU and Adreno 320 graphics) and 2GB of RAM, compared to the Tegra 3/1GB RAM combo of yore. Performance in benchmarks was impressive, with the new Nexus outpacing the old by an audacious 200–300 percent in 3DMark. In civilian use, the device showed verve, loading web pages, scrolling, and launching app after app without hitches. Naturally, it runs the latest version of Android, Jelly Bean 4.3, which takes up a full 6GB of storage. There’s still no SD card slot for memory expansion, but you can attach an external drive via the microUSB port.
Due to its slightly flatter body, we’re guessing, the new Nexus 7’s battery got a bit smaller—going from 4,325mAh to 3,950mAh—but we found it could last for as long as two days of regular use between charging, as long as screen brightness wasn’t turned all the way up. When we looped a 1080p video for four hours, we were left with 62 percent battery remaining.
Yes, Asus and Google stepped up their game with the new Nexus 7, improving mission-critical features like the screen, sound, size, and performance enough to make its higher price seem reasonable. (And still is costs $100 less than an iPad mini!)
Does anyone really need a tablet? Probably not, when we’ve got phones and laptops that serve overlapping purposes. What makes the Nexus 7 so great is that it fulfills all its duties capably at a price that won’t make you feel guilty should the novelty wear off.
$270 for 32GB w/Wi-Fi, www.google.com
Nice screen; stereo speakers; good battery life; improved performance.
OS takes up 6GB; no SD slot; power and volume buttons are easily mixed up.
|OS ||Android Jelly Bean 4.3|
|Processor||1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro|
|Screen||7.02-inch, 1920x1200 (323ppi), IPS|
|Storage ||16GB, 32GB|
|Cameras||5MP rear (1080p video), 1.2MP front|
|Connectivity||IEEE 802.11b/g/n, optional 4G LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB, 3.5mm audio, mic|
|Weight||.64 pounds (Wi-Fi only); .66 pounds (LTE option)|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||7.87 x 4.49 x 0.34 inches|