These new Google Nexus 7” Android tablet, if you’ve been lucky enough to pre-order, have been arriving at their doors over the last few days. I hadn’t expected mine, so when it did arrive then it was a pleasant surprise. Although it does appear that many haven’t received them on time due to an error on the ordering system.
My first impressions are all positive. Having a previous Google account, I was up and running in a matter of minutes. The only difficult part was getting the Nexus 7 out of the box without damaging the box. It’s much faster than my now aged Asus Transformer, which starts to really chug along once you open more than one tab on the browser. The Nexus 7 is slick, and the screen resolution is high enough in order to read this webpage in portrait mode.
Design wise, it looks just like either a large smartphone, or just a scaled down tablet so no real surprises. The responsive touch screen is protected by tough Corning Gorilla Glass and the rear with a grippy rubber, making it feel safe in the hands. That’s essential for the kind of outdoor use I intend to give this device.
If you want a review of how fast this tablet is, how it compares to other tablets and the in-depth tech specs, the it’s already been done to death – here.
The Nexus 7 comes with Jellybean installed, being the latest version of Android, and boasts a battery life of 8 hours or more. The first thing I installed was Backcountry Navigator Pro, and to my surprise it immediately located me. I’m not only indoors, but also underground in the basement. If it performs that well on the hill, then I know I’ll be impressed.
In the few hours this has been in my grasp, I’ve also found the face recognition feature that allows you to unlock the device just by looking at it, or if you look particularly rough after a night on the hill then you can override it with a pin.
What’s not so good with the Nexus 7 is the lack of a HDMI port, so you can’t use it to view Netflix on the telly like the larger tablets do as standard. There’s also no way of expanding the device, with no memory card sockets, but a serious lack of expandability hasn’t prevented Apple yet. You also lose the back camera, but while that may be important for some, it’s not a dealbreaker for me as I wouldn’t use a regular tablet as a camera. Though at the smaller form factor of the Nexus, a back camera may have been a bit more practical compared to that on an iPad.
More importantly is that all this should be taken in the context of the ludicrously low price. At £160 for the 8GB version and £199 for the 16GB, you’re getting a decent device that only compromises a few features. If like most users you intend to spend money on apps, music or movies then that price starts to look even more attractive with a £15 Play Store credit. You also get a few free books (a Jeffrey Archer, if you like that sort of thing) and a free Movie – Transformers Dark of the Moon, which is more of a big screen movie. But they’re free, so I’m not going to complain.
We’ll be taking this out into the wilds very soon, and will follow up with an ‘on the hill’ review to let you know how practical this is as a GPS and how it fares on a wild camp. We’ll also get some better pictures outside!
UPDATE – 21:05 – Just realised that there’s no Flash support on Jellybean. I know that HTML5 is meant to be the new standard, but that’s absolutely no use whatsoever while some of the key sites out there are based on Flash. So for instance, if you expect to view iPlayer on this device, think again. Neither is the android app compatible, but considering that I’ve yet to get that to work on other devices then that’s no loss.