Google Nexus 7 review: This Asus-made tablet sports a 7-inch screen and a bargain price tag that looks set to worry the Amazon Kindle Fire
Update: The new Nexus 7 2 (2013) has been released in the US and is due to hit UK shores within a matter of weeks. Check out our Google Nexus 7 2 review....
The Google Nexus 7 by Asus is the internet giant's first foray into the tablet world, as was announced at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco. Manufactured by Asus - well known for producing the popular Transformer Prime - the 7-inch tablet will pack a quad-core chip along with Google's latest OS - Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
While obvious tablet rivals include the new iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, it's the Amazon Kindle Fire that Asus believes will be the Nexus 7's closet rival. As the Fire isn't even available in the UK yet, we reckon that Google's got a pretty good chance of winning this particular showdown. Plus, the Nexus 7 is cheaper.
Google's tablet is also lighter than the Fire, weighing in at 340g, and measuring just 10.5mm thick. The rubberised back means that the tablet is comfy to hold and shouldn't slip from your mitts too easily.
Google Nexus 7: Features
The key feature on show here is the new Android Jelly Bean OS, which is geared towards tablets just as much as it is towards smartphones. We'll bring you more details on that once we've got a full review sample to play around with.
The Nexus 7 has a front camera, plus two built-in mics for video calling, but no rear-facing cam, which seems like a fair ommission on a tablet, particularly if it keeps the cost down.
Google Nexus 7: Screen
The 7-inch screen sports a 1280 x 800-pixel resolution, along with TruVivid technology for a bright, colourful picture. While no match for the Retina display of the iPad 3, the screen was certainly punchy and easy to read and the IPS panel means that the viewing angle is about as wide as it can possibly be.
For those that are worried about damaging the screen when it's lobbed into the bottom of the their bag, you'll be pleased to hear that the screen sports scratch-resistant Corning Fit Glass, which should keep damage to a minimum.
If that's not enough for you, rest assured that Asus will be offering a case for the tablet as well.
Google Nexus 7: Usability
Along with Wi-Fi, the Nexus 7 also features Bluetooth and NFC connectivity, but there's no option for 3G. While there are currently plans for a 3G-enabled model, Asus hasn't entirely ruled out the idea either. Watch this space.
Unsurprisingly, the tablet comes loaded with all of Google's major services including Gmail, Maps, Chrome and YouTube, while the Google Play store is also easy to find - in fact, it's this outlet that could well be key to the tablet's success.
Google Nexus 7: Performance
The Nexus 7 is powered by a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor (as used in the Asus Transformer Pad 300), with a 12-core GeForce GPU taking care of the graphics. The 4-PLUS-1 CPU is designed to "give maximum performance when you need it and power efficiency when you don't".
We only had limited time to play with the device, but we found it to be very zippy and responsive, while graphics were rendered swiftly and clearly on the screen.
Google Nexus 7: Battery
Asus reckons that you'll get 9.5 hours of video playback, while Google is erring on the side of caution and saying 9. Obviously that's something we'll be testing out in more detail once we get a full review sample in at T3 HQ.
Google Nexus 7: Verdict
The Google Nexus 7 that we had a play with wasn't a completely finished retail version, but we were assured that it wasn't far off/ We were impressed by the tablet's build quality, punchy screen and zippy operation and above all - the jaw-droppingly reasonable price tag.
Just as the affordable Kindle 4, released last year caused a significant rise in the number of people using e-readers, we think that the Google Nexus 7 could well be the tablet that really cracks the mass market - after all, top-tier tablets like the Asus Transformer Prime and the iPad 3 are still prohibitively expensive for many.
Google Nexus 7 availability: Mid-July (8GB), 27 July (16GB)
Google Nexus 7 price: £159 (8GB), £199 (16GB)
Hands-on review by Libby Plummer