Nexus 7 review: the best $200 tablet you can buy

DNP Nexus 7 review

In 2008, when the Eee PC was revolutionizing the computing world and driving every manufacturer to make cheaper and smaller laptops, Sony washed its hands of the whole thing. The “race to the bottom,” the company said, would profoundly impact the industry, killing profit margins and flooding the market with cheap, terrible machines. Sony was wrong, its stance lasting about a year before joining the competition with its own VAIO W.

Four years on we’re buying better laptops than ever before and, with the netbook class now more or less dead, that downward competition seems to have shifted to the tablet front. A flood of cheap, truly awful slates preceded Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the $200 tablet from a major brand that looks to have been the proper catalyst in plunging prices. The latest challenger to enter the competition is ASUS, partnering with Google to create the first Nexus tablet, a device that not only will amaze with its MSRP, but with its quality. It’s called the Nexus 7, it too is $200, and it’s better than Amazon’s offering in every way but one.

Hardware

Though that low cost is the big talking point about this tablet, you’d certainly never know it just by holding the thing. Okay, so there’s more polycarbonate than panache here, but the design of the Nexus 7 feels reasonably high-end, starting with that rubberized back. Yes, it is rubber, but it’s very nicely textured, nice enough to fool one tech journalist into thinking it was leather.

Though the cost is the big talking point about this tablet, you’d certainly never know it just by holding the thing.

No cow shed its skin to cover the back of this tablet, of that we can assure you, but the dimpled pattern here is not unlike the sort you might find on leather-wrapped racecar steering wheels. While there’s no MOMO logo to be found, the feel is much the same and, we presume, rather more durable. There are two other logos to be found, though, starting with the Nexus branding embossed in big letters on the top, with a much smaller ASUS graphic on the bottom. That’s it, though: understated and sophisticated. Just how we like it. (Even the FCC logo and other noise are on a piece of plastic you can easily peel off.) There’s also no camera lens poking out here, as the 1.2-megapixel shooter up front is all you get.

Move further down toward the bottom of the back and you’ll find the device’s single speaker. It’s a slit that runs roughly two-thirds of the way across the back, centered and sitting about a half-inch above the bottom — which is, by the way, where you’ll find the tablet’s only ports. Centered down there is a micro-USB connector and, to the far right side when looking at the display, the 3.5mm headphone jack. That’s it. Thankfully, ASUS’s proprietary connector found on the Transformer tablets doesn’t make an appearance here, but neither do we get a dedicated HDMI output, which is a bit of a bummer. (You can, of course, use an MHL adapter if you like.)

Nexus 7 review

On the left edge of the device, similar dock contacts to those found on the Galaxy Nexus can be found, presumably waiting to be tickled by some future accessory, while up top you’ll find … nothing. Just the silvery ring that runs around the full device. It looks like brushed metal, but feels more like plastic. Even so, the tablet has a very sturdy, strong feel to it — but that’s partly thanks to it being just a little bit chunky.

It measures 10.45mm (0.41 inches) thick, which is just half a millimeter thinner than the Kindle Fire — itself no slender belle. But, crucially, it weighs much less: 340g (12 ounces) versus 413g (14.6 ounces) for the Fire. That’s a very noticeable difference and it makes the Nexus 7 much nicer to carry around. Its curved edges, too, make it far more comfortable.

On the inside is an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor running at 1.2GHz (though it can step up to 1.3GHz when it wants to) and paired with 1GB of RAM with either eight or 16 gigs of flash storage (doubling the capacity will cost you a $50 premium). As there’s no microSD expansion here, you’ll probably want to pay the extra cash. WiFi (802.11b/g/n) is your only option for data connectivity, though there’s naturally Bluetooth and NFC, not to mention GPS, an accelerometer, a digital compass and a gyroscope, too.

Display and sound

Nexus 7 review

Budget tablets typically make the biggest sacrifices on the display front, and certainly the 1,024 x 600 resolution on the Kindle Fire feels a bit constricting at this point. Not so with the Nexus 7, which is fronted by a very nice 1,280 x 800 IPS panel rated at 400 nits of brightness. While more pixels is always better — the new iPad and its Retina display having made us yearn for ridiculously high resolutions in all our devices — WXGA feels perfectly adequate here. Text is rendered very well and 720p videos look great.

Much of that, though, is thanks to the other, less quantifiable aspects of the screen. Viewing angles are top-notch, with contrast staying strong regardless of which side you’re coming from. And, it’s plenty bright, too, a properly nice screen that, like everything else here, is just a little nicer than you’d expect given the cost.

Audio, however, isn’t exactly fighting above its class. The speakers integrated in the back and peeking out through a slender slit toward the bottom deliver a decent amount of sound that isn’t too unpleasant to listen to. It passes the “loud enough to fill a hotel room” test but the quality at those levels will leave you reaching for your earbuds.

Performance and battery life

Nexus 7 review

When Jen-Hsun Huang teased Tegra 3-powered tablets would drop under $200 this summer he obviously knew what was coming, but what we didn’t know was just how far back those tablets would have to be scaled to make that price point. If you’ve been reading all the way through to here (and we love you for it) you’ll know we haven’t yet found a real compromise made to achieve that price. Compromises will not be found in this section, either.

Okay, so a 35-second boot time does leave a little bit to be desired, but once you’re inside the OS, applications load quickly and respond briskly, even graphics-heavy ones like the Google Play magazine app. Webpages are rendered promptly and swiping through them is snappy. Sure, there are the occasional stutters and hiccups here that even a coating of Butter doesn’t completely eliminate, but we’ve experienced those with even the top-shelf tablets, like the recent Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 with its 1.7GHz version of the Tegra 3 processor.

If benchmarks are to be believed, this little guy actually performs better than its bigger brothers.

In fact, if benchmarks are to be believed, this little guy actually performs better than its bigger brothers. SunSpider tests, which look at JavaScript rendering speeds in the new Chrome browser, were completed on average in a relatively speedy 1,785ms. The tablet burned through Vellamo with an average score of 1,650 and notched 11,713 in CF-Bench. Only the Quadrant score was on the low side compared to the much higher-priced competition, coming in at 3,501.

Nexus 7 ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 ASUS Transformer Prime
Quadrant 3,501 4,685 4,137
Vellamo 1,650 1,475 1,418
AnTuTu Would not run 12,027 10,269
SunSpider 0.9.1 (ms) 1,785 2,012 1,861
GLBenchmark Egypt Offscreen (fps) 63 fps 75 fps 68 fps
CF-Bench 11,807 7,874 11,861
SunSpider: lower scores are better

Since there were plenty of people freaking out about the new iPad getting warm when gaming and doing other intensive tasks we’ll point out briefly that the Nexus 7 was noticeably increasing in temperature as these benchmarks cooked away. But, at no point did it become disconcertingly hot. Just a little toasty.

Tablet Battery Life
Nexus 7 9:49
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 12:01
Apple iPad 2 10:26
Acer Iconia Tab A510 10:23
ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime 10:17 / 16:34 (keyboard dock)
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 9:55
Apple iPad (2012) 9:52 (HSPA) / 9:37 (LTE)
Apple iPad (2011) 9:33
ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 9:25 / 14:43 (keyboard dock)
Toshiba Excite 10 9:24
Motorola Xoom 2 8:57
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 8:56
HP TouchPad 8:33
ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 8:29 / 12:04 (keyboard dock)

And of course a tablet is only good for as long as you can use the thing, and we were quite impressed by the longevity here. We came within spitting distance of 10 hours on a charge using out standard rundown test, which has the tablet connected on WiFi and looping a video endlessly. That’s very, very good for a budget 7-incher and bests many bigger, more expensive slates.

Software

The Nexus 7 is the first device shipping with Android 4.1. We’ll defer to our full review of Jelly Bean for full impressions, as it’s far too much to get into here, but there are a few aspects of the latest additions to Android that are worth pointing out.

Like those magazine subscriptions we mentioned above, for example. The Play Magazines app is a perfectly respectable reader that has a great selection of content and very smooth performance. While pinch-to-zoom is quite fluid, thanks to the reasonably high-res screen you won’t necessarily have to do so as often as you might on the Fire. That’s because text is clear and readable if you still have the eyesight to match — though should you want something a bit easier to parse there’s a handy text view.

In terms of pricing, though, we found many magazines to be slightly more expensive here than they are on the Fire. Music, too, tends to cost a dollar or two more per album than what Amazon offers in its MP3 download store. Thankfully, since all that music is DRM-free, there’s nothing stopping you from loading up your tablet with what you’ve bought elsewhere. Nothing, at least, other than the somewhat limited amount of internal storage.

You can finally uninstall that ancient Chrome to Phone plugin.

And then, of course, there’s the new stock browser, Chrome. Not a lot has changed since our first impressions a few months ago, so it’s still a nice step up from the boring, old Browser app on previous versions of Android. Rendering performance is generally good, and the ability to import open tabs from a desktop browsing session is very handy, indeed. You can finally uninstall that ancient Chrome to Phone plugin.

Wrap-up

Nexus 7 review

The Nexus 7 is an amazing package for something that costs a penny less than $200. It feels like something that could sell for much more. It has a great screen, solid performance and a clean, clear, uncluttered version of Google’s latest operating system, Jelly Bean. From a pure hardware standpoint it beats the Kindle in every way possible — except for content. Amazon’s selection almost always trumps that of Google’s, both in terms of variety and cost, but that’s one wonderful problem to have, because almost all of that content is just as available on the Nexus 7 as it is on the Fire. The only major exception is Amazon Instant Video, and with Netflix, we can live with that.

So, while we tend to prefer larger tablets that better differentiate themselves from phones, if you’ve been toying with the idea of getting a real Android slate but didn’t want to spend big bucks for a big device, this is what you’ve been waiting for. This is the best Android tablet for less than $200 and the best budget 7-inch tablet on the market. For the moment. The race to the bottom in the tablet space is, after all, just getting started and, if the Nexus 7 is any indication of what’s to come, we’re in for a very good ride.

Update: We received some bogus information on the MHL. We’ve now confirmed that the Nexus 7 does not support MHL, meaning there’s no way to connect this over HDMI to get video output.

 

Courtesy : engadget

 

 

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What Will Be the Best Android Phone of 2012?

 

The year 2011 was all about “dual core”, becoming the standard for high-end smartphones. And we have all witnessed what superphones like the Samsung Galaxy S II, DROID RAZR MAXX, and others are capable of. These phones are five times more powerful than anything released last year, and for this upcoming generation of devices, even more.

So, what next? This year, chip-makers have come forth with quad core processors supporting mobile multitasking comparable to the performance of a desktop computer of a few years ago, powered by Tegra 3 SoC’s and TI’s OMAP equivalent. More cores equal more power and a faster smartphone; certainly they are likely to offer increased power savings and a performance increase in the range of 300-500%. And, they actually have power saving features embedded in them too.

NVIDIA Tegra Product Roadmap

And the players include HTC, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, LG, and Meizu. We will look at the devices they are bringing to market one by one.

HTC

HTC might be launching the first quad-core smartphone in the market among the smartphone manufacturers. Dubbed HTC One X, it will run on NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 having four cores (and a fifth, companion core for less demanding tasks) clocked at 1.5GHz allowing the processor to simultaneously run multiple sets of program instructions. Along with this, the battery life will increase two fold. With 1GB of RAM will be at your disposal, along with 32GB of built-in memory, this mammoth device will offer a 4.7″ screen with 720p HD resolution; big-screen junkies should be happy.

HTC One X Specs

  • 8MP camera unit with 28mm, f/2.2 lens
  • 4.7″ screen with 1280×720 HD LCD Display
  • NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 quad core clocked @ 1.5 Ghz
  • 32GB of built-in memory
  • 1GB of RAM
  • Android 4.0 ICS

Other specs include an 8MP camera unit with 28mm, dual shutter f/2.2 lens, capable of capturing 1080p videos will be present as well. Bluetooth 4.0 is expected on board, along with the rest of the usual connectivity. The HTC One X will, reportedly, be only capable of 21Mbps HSDPA network speeds. In the software department, we can be all but certain to see Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box. The Edge will also most likely come with Beats by Dr. Dre as well, for bass-fanatics, too. A number of new HTC content services are also expected like HTC Listen Music, HTC Read, HTC Watch and HTC Play. The HTC One X is expected to hit the market between March and April this year, and is likely to be one of the first quad core smartphones on the market.

MOTOROLA

Now, for Moto, if we are to believe the rumors, is gearing up with its Tegra 3 based devices lined up for the launch in the Q2 2012 and might be unveiled during MWC 2012. After the Motorola DROID RAZR and the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX, the phones have been codenamed as Motorola Bullet and Motorola Jet. Supposedly the Bullet will be a straight-up slate, while the Jet will be a QWERTY slider. Aside from the absolutely unstoppable and drool-worthy 3300mAh Quad core powered Motorola Atrix 3, very little in the way of rumors have surfaced over the past few months, Motorola seems like they are quite content with their current line-up, but this is likely to change quickly. You know how it goes, things change rather quickly in these here parts.

Motorola Bullet

The Bullet is a candy bar style 4.3″ qHD (960×540) phone, packing a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, and most likely 1.5GB of DDR2 RAM. It will also feature 16GB of on-board storage, an NFC chip, and a redesigned image sensor to capture amazing photos and HD video on its 12MP camera. It’s also alleged to be launching before its keyboard brethren, the Motorola Jet.

Motorola Jet

The Motorola Jet 4 will be adored by the Android QWERTY lovers and sports a smaller 4″ display, brandishing a qHD (960×540) display with an amazing QWERTY keyboard from its cousin Motorola Droid 3.  Thankfully, it will be sporting the same Herculean hardware as its keyboard-less cousin, the Bullet, and will feature a 4″ qHD 24-bit screen, Tegra 3, up to 1.5GB of DDR2 RAM, 16GB on-board storage, same newly designed 12MP camera as the Bullet, NFC chip, and a fully redesigned 5 row (perhaps) style sliding keyboard.

Some also reported that Motorola is getting quite serious about putting world class image sensors in their upcoming phones, giving consumers the power to capture fast, awesome HD photos and video in low light. So, with Motorola making this a major focus, it’s looking like the chance of us being able to put our dedicated digital camera away sooner than we thought. Plus, with the promised processing power of the quad core Tegra SoC, it’s theoretically possible that these devices will be able to capture 60fps + at 1080p. Judging by the image above it looks like both devices will be running on Verizon’s 4G LTE – since they aren’t releasing any more 3G only devices – and both phones have the “Verizon” logo, and on the back there is the “4G LTE” logo. Here’s to hoping they find a way to get great battery life on 4G LTE.

SONY

The Arc was one of Sony Ericsson’s (soon to be just Sony) best smartphones last year. While it lacked dual core goodness, it was slim, as it was supposed to be, since most of their competition had phones like that already, and it was stylish. Design is still one of Sony’s strong suit, but it doesn’t go well with thick phones, which is how most of their phones still are. But they will be pushing other slim phones in 2012.

Sony Xperia S

Sony Xperia S Specs

  • dual core 1.5 Ghz Snapdragon chip
  • 4.3″ 1280×720 HD display
  •  1 GB of RAM
  • 32 GB of storage
  • 1750 mAh battery
  • 12 MP rear camera

Sony will be debuting the Xperia Ion this year, which is packing a dual core 1.5 Ghz Snapdragon chip, a 4.3″ 1280×720 HD display, 1 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and a 1750 mAh battery. Also, it packs a 12 MP camera with full HD recording and HDMI port.

The Ion is not only proof of that, but it’s also a bit of proof that Sony Ericsson finally understands that they need to be on the edge with hardware specs, too. From what we’ve seen, it appears that Sony is taking the smartphone market very seriously, and is positioning themselves in 2012 to become a lot more competitive.

SAMSUNG

The giant Korean company, maker of the Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S2, is poised to be a leader in this particular superphone death-match. Samsung’s phones and tablets have used ARM, Snapdragon and Tegra chipsets, but the manufacturer’s semiconductor division is working hard on the next generation of its own Exynos line of systems-on-a-chip. They are testing possible processors like the Exynos 5250, which isn’t quad-core, but rather a dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 processor. Samsung seems to be confident that the Exynos 5250 can produce benchmarks and performance competitive with a quad-core processor. Or it may even go with the 32 nm quad core Exynos 4412 (based on Cortex A9) having the same clock speed of 1.5 GHz.

One of the latest renderings of the Galaxy S3

Samsung Galaxy S3 Specs

  • 1GB/2GB of RAM
  • 4.6 inch 1280×720 AMOLED display
  • under 9mm thin
  • 12MP rear camera, with W750 BSI CMOS sensor
  • 1.5Ghz quad core (potentially dual core, but unlikely)
  • Multiple variants to be released to support different carriers
Samsung has some tough choices to make. According to our very own Lucian Armasu:
“The “safest” rumor about the Galaxy S3 has been that it has a quad core 1.5 Ghz processor, most likely based on Cortex A9. While that will certainly be competitive this spring, I don’t think the competitive edge will be that big for the Galaxy S3 to maintain the lead in performance for too long.”

If we take into consideration the specs of the device, the talks which are in the air reveal that the Galaxy S III’s design will be different from the current design of the Galaxy S series, and will thinner in size than its ancestor, the Galaxy S2. Samsung might be including 3D (glassless) functionality into the Galaxy S3 line of Android phones. Predictions indicate that it will feature a 4.6” Super AMOLED Plus HD screen, 2GB of RAM, LTE connectivity, running on Android’s latest ICS firmware with Touchwiz – Samsung’s own overlay. Also like its competitors, it might incorporate a 12 MP primary camera (with W750 BSI CMOS sensor) and NFC support.

If Samsung does unveil the Galaxy S3 at Mobile World Congress in 2012, we will see Galaxy S III earlier this May or even in April. If not, then look for it closer to the summer.

MEIZU

Meizu MX with Quad Core Launching in May 2012

Meizu MX with Quad Core Launching in May 2012

Meizu MX Specs

  • Tegra 3 Quad Core @ 1.5 Ghz
  • 1/2GB of RAM
  • 16 GB ROM
  • 8MP Camera
  • 1600 mAh
  • 4 inch LED backlit display

Recently, Meizu CEO J Wong has confirmed that after first gen Meizu MX launched recently, its quad core version will be hitting the market soon installed with the Android Ice Cream Sandwich while it arrives in May 2012. He also confirmed in the official company forum that the second version of the Meizu MX will come with the Exynos processor. There is not so detailed information about the features it will showcase, but it will perhaps have a processor clocked at 1.5 GHz, 1/2 GB RAM, 16 Gb inbuilt memory, 8 MP or higher camera, full HD recording, HDMI port, 4+” LED display and a 1600 mAh battery.

Meizu have gained reputation in China, and their quality and powerful devices are starting to be acknowledged by the West, too, which means that it might not be long until they start selling them to Europe and US, as well struggling against the iPhone.

LG

LG’s new quad core speed demon – the Optimus 4X HD

LG 4X HD Specs: 

  • NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-core CPU
  • A whopping 4.7 inches HD Screen (1280×720)
  • 8MP Rear Camera and 1.3MP Front
  • 16GB on a microSD card.
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box
  • 21Mbps HSPA or LTE depending on region and carrier
  • 2000mAh battery
  • NFC

LG has received a lot of flack for slow updates, and for software that doesn’t perform at its best, all the time. That being said, they still are considered one of the top five, in terms of market share, at least. So it should come as no surprise that LG does not want to stand idly by. Rumors have it that they will be debuting a very powerful quad core device at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. In terms of specs, it seems to match a lot of these other top tier phones that we are looking at, and includes the extremely powerful chipset, Tegra 3, and will feature a high resolution, 4.7 inch display with a resolution of 1280 × 720. We’ve also had its dimensions confirmed by reliable sources that have told us it will be very thin – most likely under 9 mm.

Said to come with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box, it will feature a 1.3 megapixel, and an 8 megapixel rear. Other specs include the usual suspects, including Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G/4G/LTE connectivity, depending on the region, and a fairly substantial 2000mAh battery.

These companies are not alone in the game.  Panasonic, ZTE, Huawei and even Fujitsu are also planning to roll out their quad core phones soon, too. So, what are there plans? Let’s check them out!

PANASONIC

When we had the chance to meet with Panasonic at CES, they expressed that they want to internationalize their smartphone business. Panasonic is a borderline legendary company, with some of the greatest experience in the world at making technology. That being said, this is purely a business move. You see, every single Japanese OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) has lost tons of money making TV’s and displays in general (big part of their business before), so it’s only natural that Sharp, Panasonic, Fujitsu and others would want to bring their “A game” and sell their mobile technology on the international stage. Either way, what we are looking at above is the Panasonic Eluga, which is destined for Japan – for now. It’s likely though, and somewhat unfortunately, that Panasonic doesn’t quite ‘get it’, and will likely unveil their premier Android smartphone with only a dual core processor, which is, in a word, insufficient. Either way, they are bringing their expertise to the production of said device, and it will likely be a dust-proof and waterproof device. The last reports we heard indicate that the device has been named the Panasonic Eluga. Still, we simply can’t help but admire at how beautiful its renderings are.

Specs

  • 4.3″ qHD display
  • NFC
  • 8GB of onboard memory
  • 8MP camera
  • Dual-core 1Ghz processor
  • Android 2.3 upgradeable to Android 4.0 ICS

HUAWEI

I’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again. Huawei is the one to watch in 2012. They’ve had quite a bit of success domestically in China, and elsewhere in Europe, and they’re hungry for more. Out of the hundreds of pieces of technology I had the privilege of experiencing, the Huawei Ascend P1 and P1S were the ones that really stood out. Remarkably thin, and built of an extremely strong composite plastic, they both featured an eye popping qHD AMOLED display, and made me want to put my Galaxy S2 back in my pocket.  Dubbed the Huawei Ascend D Quad XL, it’s alleged to be packing a quad core Tegra 3, and all in a super tight, svelte package. What’s not to love? Perhaps the battery life. Time will tell, as with all good things, but from judging the reception the DROID RAZR MAXX has enjoyed with its industry leading 3300mAh battery, major manufacturers better wake up and notice that consumers want long battery life, and, in most cases, are willing to forgo thinness in the pursuit of more road-warrior attuned qualities.

Specs

  • 4.5″ qHD display
  • NFC
  • 16GB of onboard memory
  • 8MP camera
  • Quad-core 1.5Ghz processor
  • Android 4.0x+ Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 2200 mAh battery

Anyway, no matter the number of devices, what we are in the midst of is truly a mobile computing revolution. At the end of the day, we, the consumers, will all benefit. After all, we are going to experience a whole new world of smarter, faster and buttery smooth mobile devices. Any thoughts? Which manufacturer do you think will bring to market the first quad core device? Would you settle for a device with anything less than a quad-core processor?

 

courtesy : http://www.androidauthority.com/best-android-phone-2012-42303/