- Features What's there is fantastic. What's missing is annoying, but not hugely so.
- Display Video on this looks better than it does on the new iPad. This is the new high water mark for pixel density without giving up color and brightness and contrast.
- Battery life It weighs nothing. It's tiny. Despite this it has outstanding battery life. I played with it for 3 hours and the battery barely moved.
- Ease of use ICS was already the best. Now it's even better as Jellybean. Nothing comes close.
- Storage capacity 8GB? Really? Give 4G or give more storage. One or the other. If this is supposed to stream most content, it should have 4G.
- Design and form factor YAY! A tablet made from smart materials. Metal dents and glass shatters. Thanks for making it a proper high impact resin, and sexy at that.
- Portability (size / weight) This much battery, this light. This is a world beating design. Great job Asus!
- Durability You can drop this and it won't break. It was designed properly. Sexy and functional.
I ordered one of these almost immediately because you'd have to be insane not to. They are obviously selling these at cost, and they could have charged 299-350 and gotten it. You can tell Google isn't about the device, and is about selling their ecosystem. That being said, they are using the device to push the ecosystem, so it has to be good. It's very very good.
In these reviews, I like to go through my criteria ratings and explain them more fully.
Everything that is there is perfect. Best in industry perfect. Best processor. Best graphics engine. Best display. Best form factor (for a content consumption device). Best ergonomics. Best mobile OS. There's just a lot of bests. What isn't there hurts some. I understand the argument to not include a back camera, but even when I was lugging around the huge iPad, I'd frequently use it for foursquare check-ins and I always snap a quick picture. We aren't talking about a huge hardship there if I was doing it with an iPad. It would have been nice to even have the crappy 5MP camera the iPad has. It's good enough for mundane things like foursquare check-ins and social networking. The front camera is barely good enough for video conferencing. Some of us carry our tablets around because we need them. I'm an on-call admin. I usually have a tablet with me to do my job if I'm called. The lack of external storage (microsd slot) was simply dumb. They should have either added 4G, or simply gave it an sdcard slot. Anybody would have forgiven the tiny 8 and 16G offerings if they'd included an sdcard slot considering the insanely low pricetag.
I got used to thinking the New iPad display was the benchmark. Samsung really did make a great screen for Apple. But I'm sorry to say, side-by-side watching the same video (I used From up on Poppy Hill from Studio Ghibli) the picture just looked better on the Nexus 7. Even worse, because of the ridiculous 4:3 dimensions of the new iPad, the HD video was roughly the same exact size since the video is only using about a third of the iPad screen. So you hold them both in your hand. The tiny tablet with the same amount of battery that weighs a third less looks better, and you wonder why anyone would buy an iPad to watch HD video anymore. Now, we aren't talking a huge difference here. Just like you don't notice a huge difference in "pixels" either unless you hold them 7 inches from your face. You do notice that the Nexus Tab has better color, better contrast, and gets a lot brighter. I did my "outside" test. I spend a lot of time working on a balcony, and sitting at a table in front of a local market. The iPad is useless because you can't make it bright enough to compete with the outside world. The Nexus Tab does not exhibit this flaw. This is the new standard for real world displays. I'll take a line from the Apple playbook. Specs don't seem to matter here. Ignore the specs. Concentrate on the actual experience. Using that logic, the Nexus 7 wins handily.
Not much to say here. It's outstanding. It pretty much has to be. Anybody that delivers a device with subpar battery at this point is failing.
Ease of Use:
ICS was already amazing. Things just made sense. It was like the Apple OSX team helped Google make a great mobile OS, and secretly hate their internal iOS department. Jellybean just improves on that even more. The truly shocking thing though? SO SMOOOOOOOOTH. Instantaneous reactions to fingertips. It's just now now now. It's almost freaky. Nowness. They called it Project Butter, and they far exceeded my expectations. This is better than iOS. It's the kind of thing you can't really quantify. Like how iOS was smoother than Android until Gingerbread, and still had that something about it that made it feel tighter. Google has out-appled apple with Jellybean. You'll have to experience it to understand.
Just pretend I'm grumbling about this stupidity again. It is the flaw in the design. 4G or sdcard slot. Very easy.
This is the new "small king". In a lot of ways it's just "the king". When you consider that the iPad is supposed to be a media consumption device, and it can kinda sorta do some work things, this beats the crap out of that by dominating every aspect of that model. What does a "toy" tablet need to do?
Video: This does it better.
Games: This has the nvidia store with the best games for tablets made. This does it better. One only has to compare a game like Riptide GP on the iPad then this to see how much better the Nexus does games.
Web: Google Chrome. Enough said. Better
Productivity: Same Docs to Go. Better voice actions. Smarter GPS. Better.
Then factor in lighter, faster, better screen, same battery, and most of the same apps. You can't even make the "optimized for tablet" argument anymore because it has the same resolution as the top three android phones, and all those apps look AMAZING on this thing. You essentially have 400,000 "tablet optimized" apps using Apple logic, even though they are just apps, and "tablet apps" is marketing jargon.
For the day to day tablet uses someone would have, this obliterates the iPad. No question.
Durability: It's light and it's made of high impact resin and Gorilla Glass 2. I'll just wait for the inevitable drop tests to confirm what is already obvious. This design is superior to all metal tablets.
Now, that's a very flowery review, so I want to hammer on some of the negatives. I'm a power user. I know I can root this thing and do whatever I want, but for the casual user that isn't a rocket scientist:
Storage again. If your usage scenario depends on keeping lots of media on the device long term, this is not your tablet. You need to get used to the "streaming" paradigm or you will run out of things to do fast.
Network again: For a device that relies on streaming, if you aren't currently always near great wifi, or you don't possess the technical skill to set up bluetooth tethering with your phone so you don't have to care about it or screw with it ever, this is not your tablet.
Market Tie-In: If you don't know how to connect to windows shares to stream content (because that's what 93 percent of us own. Windows machines), and you have some show or movie you want that isn't on the Play Store or Netflix, this is not the tablet for you.
Now, I'd point out all those negatives are shared by the iPad, and it's an older dated design. Lets be honest, it's just an ipad2 with a new screen. And because of that, this is definitely the new king. Everything the iPad does, this tablet does better. We'll have to wait a few weeks for Asus to release the new king of tablets (tf700t) but until then, this is the one to buy. And at 199 bucks? You'd be a fool not to. Google really did their homework.
15 percent of us own tablets. The reason is simple. The economy sucks. Joe Sixpack can't justify 500 bucks for a tablet when the mortgage is already late, and he's working two jobs to raise his family. But he'll gladly pay 199 bucks for one. The Nexus 7 is going to be a massive success with most of us. Just like Android phones stole the smartphone market, I think Google is about to do it again in the tablet market.
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Updated detailed review
Updated detailed review
Edited comment on Battery life
Updated detailed review