In pictures: Google Nexus 7 first impressions
- — 24 July, 2012 22:00
The Google Nexus 7, made by Asus, is not yet available in New Zealand, but on a recent trip to San Francisco, Paul Spain of NZtechpodcast managed to source one. He loaned it to PC World, so we've given it a once over.
We unboxed it, then got to set it up.
The version here is the 16GB model, which cost US$279 (NZD$357). The processor is a 1.3GHz Nvidia Tegra quad-core and it comes with 1GB RAM. There's no slot for an SD or microSD card, and no SIM slot - the Nexus 7 is Wi-Fi only.
The screen is 7 inches, with 1280 x 800 resolution. Our scales clocked the Nexus 7 at 350g, which is about 3 times the weight of the average smartphone. In terms of physical buttons, there's just a power switch and volume up/down. There's a single (rather puny) 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera. You can connect headphones via the 3.5mm jack, and on the bottom left you'll find a dock connector (below).
The rear of the device is textured, and it feels comfortably grippy when you hold it.
Of course, because this is the US version, it comes with a US plug, but we found that it comfortably charges with a 1 Amp microUSB charger.
The Nexus 7 runs Android Jelly Bean (Android 4.1), which includes Google Now -- Google's answer to Siri. We tested out the voice recognition on my voice and Harley's and it handled our queries, such as "Tha dark knight rises review", "my little pony friendship is magic" and "ivy bridge", well, with only the occasional hiccup. It was pretty impressive, given the background noise.
The screen surprised me with its clarity and resolution. There's none of the distant feel and obvious poor quality of cheap tablet here. When I put it side by side with the clear and bright screen of the Samsung Galaxy S III, it was apparent that the colours on the Nexus 7 weren't as vivid despite its IPS screen. While reds and yellows are rich and saturated, greens appear just a little faded. The text smoothing is good, however, and overall, it's hard to be unhappy with it.
The screen is nearly as responsive as that of the Samsung Galaxy S III -- the quad core processor has something to do with that, but the capacitve screen must also have a fast response rate to track finger movements swiftly and react to even light touches.
Games that can prove challenging for underpowered tablets and phones, such as the game Monsters Ate my Condo, had no problems here. Video playback via YouTube was smooth, too. The rear of the device did get warm near the dock connector when I was playing games, but not as warm as, say, the new iPad.
We'll be spending a couple of days with the Nexus 7, so watch this space for our review. We can tell you how well the battery fares, as well as give a better idea of its performance for a wider range of apps.