The purenxs.com Nexus 7 review is a little different to the usual critic’s reviews that you’ll read on other websites. I am not a professional journalist and won’t attempt to compete with their many excellent Nexus 7 reviews out there (you can find links to several in our Nexus 7 Hub).
The purpose of this review is to share thoughts on the Nexus 7 from the perspective of a user, someone who has used one as their main tablet on a daily basis since it was first released. I’ll talk honestly about the things that I do like, and the things that I don’t.
If you want to know how a Nexus 7 might fit into your life then this is the review to read!
Nexus 7 User Review
I’m going to try and keep the waffle to a minimum and get to the bits that will be of interest to you. I hope this review gives anyone interested in buying a Nexus 7 a good impression of what to expect.
Disclosure: I really like my Nexus 7 and this review explains why. I am not pretending that this is a fair and impartial comparison to other products, but it is an honest write up of my personal views.
I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty of the tech specs, most buyers are actually just interested in what a tablet can do for them. Let’s have a look at the things that matter from a practical point of view:
- Size: When I first started looking for a tablet I only had eyes for a 10″ model. And it was only on a whim that I decided to jump on the Google bandwagon, but boy am I glad that I did. This size is so portable, it fits into any bag and easily into a jacket pocket, it’s comfortable to grip and easy to hold for long periods. The compromise is that you have less space to work with, but if 7″ works for you then going larger seems pointless.
- Performance: I won’t go into detail but this tablet has some solid hardware behind it, I have never noticed it slow down, games run way beyond my expectations and everything feels snappy.
- Camera: There is no rear camera, if you want something to take photos with then you’ll need to get something else, or do what most sensible people do, buy yourself an actual camera! I’ve got into arguments with others who are trying to convince me that a 10″ tablet makes for a handy camera. Personally I’ll stick to my real camera or phone. The front facing camera is good enough for video chat.
- Connectivity: You get WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC. I have yet to use the latter and the other two work as expected. There is no 3G option which will be a deal breaker for some. However there are lots of ways to seamlessly access offline content such as books, videos, news, etc. My Nexus 7 quickly became a regular on my daily train commute. Having no 3G option isn’t the strangest design decision in the world, remember that iPads also have a no 3G option and you have to pay a large premium to add it.
- Storage: Out of the box storage options are limited and I would strongly recommend getting the 16gb version. That space can quickly get taken up with apps, games and offline content. Fortunately it is possible to connect it up to external storage such as a USB drive. And who knows, maybe a future update will build this in?
- Battery Life: Battery life is excellent. An occasional top up every few days is all it takes to keep things running, I have been listening to music and watching videos daily and have yet to be caught short. It’s a long way from my phone which needs daily charging. I haven’t taken any measured readings but you just know when you wish a device had a better battery!
I have to say that I am very impressed by the latest version of Android, although perhaps that’s because my phone is still running version 2.1! Android has had some catching up to do, but it is backed by a smart company with deep pockets.
So what’s the Nexus 7 software experience like from my point of view?
- Default Applications: The Google apps ensure a great out of the box experience, even if you install nothing else you get a lot for your money. I love being surprised by Google Now which somehow seems to know when I want directions or sports results, Gmail, Google+, Maps all work and integrate wonderfully. The voice recognition actually works – my iPod Touch has never responded to a single thing I’ve ever said! Google has a smart team working on this and they know what they are doing.
- Play App Store: You can check out this NXTab page for the best apps for the Nexus 7, you’ll see that there are many mature apps for all the common tasks. A common complaint is that Android suffers from a lack of tablet specific apps, however the good news is that apps designed for large smart phones like the Galaxy S3 actually run well on the 7″ Nexus. So whilst you really do need two versions to support iPhones and high res iPads, it just isn’t a problem for the N7. Of course dedicated support is always nice, and more and more Android apps are being reworked to support tablets.
- No Official Flash: The big complaint relates to Flash support and the resulting lack of compatibility with popular video streaming apps, iPlayer being the big one. As highlighted on our blog, this is being worked on and may will be fixed by the time you are reading this. For limited and sometimes frustrating flash support you can side load it.
Android vs iOS
I want this review to concentrate on why I like the Nexus 7 rather than dwell on the competition. However I did want to add a quick comment to push back on the idea that everyone really just wants an iPad!
As an Apple owner I have never got on all that well with iOS and would gladly challenge the idea that everyone should automatically want, and love, an iPad. No software can be all things to all people and for whatever reasons, iOS isn’t for me.
My latest generation iPod Touch (which cost more than my tablet!) has been a source of frustration since the day I got it. From small niggles like the behaviour of the back button, through to the lack of customisation and worst of all the need to do a full factory reset after it froze it was far from the perfect consumer experience I was lead to believe it would be.
Day to day Tablet Use
In this section of my review I wanted to talk about how the Nexus 7 fits into my life. What kind of things is it good for?
- Sofa Surfing: The Nexus 7 is the perfect companion to have sitting on your coffee table, you can just pick it up and do the quick look up and put it down again. I can now quickly check an actors name in IMDB, look up a deal that’s been discussed on TV, answer queries that come up in day to day chat. The compact size ensures it disappears back on to the table.
- Out and About: I already had a good media player and with no 3G connectivity I wasn’t expecting my N7 to become my preferred commuting gadget. I was of course very wrong. Since buying it, my tablet has travelled with me to work every single day. I’ve found the offline capabilities to be fantastic, using apps like Pulse, Google Reader, Ted and Kindle. My only problem is juggling the 16gb space limit.
- Kids: I haven’t installed many kid’s games on my N7 yet but I’m sure that will change as I explore the Play Store. However my toddler is naturally drawn to the tablet and instantly attempted to interact with the screen. The real win to date has been the ability to download a few kids cartoons for viewing whilst travelling – how did we ever manage train journeys before this? Like any parent, we don’t want our kids to become obsessed with these gadgets, but I want him to grow up to appreciate how these tools can fit naturally into our lives.
And the great thing is that it feels like the tip of the iceberg. There are many more things I’m looking forward to try out: keeping up to date with sports results, streaming music to my HiFi, podcasts, games and even some application development of my own.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Nexus 7
To add some balance, here are some reasons why I think people might not want to buy a Nexus 7:
- Connectivity: Need Internet access away from WiFi hotspots? Then you’ll need a tablet with 3G capability.
- Size: Whilst I prefer the 7″ form factor I totally get that some people will prefer a 10″ screen. If you need this extra space and don’t mind carrying it around then it’s an easy choice.
- Camera: Similarly, if you have a good use case for a decent rear camera in a tablet then the Nexus 7 won’t work for you. For example I’ve heard cameras being put to good use in the classroom.
- Specific Software: Is there an App you need to run that is only available on iOS or Windows? Android covers most things but many pro apps only exist on rival platforms.
- Interoperability: If you have already invested in Apple products and love how they work, it makes sense to stay within the iOS world. Similarly, if you are in a Windows based corporate network it could be worth waiting for the Windows 8 tablets.
- Price: It is the cheapest quality tablet on the market, but there are even cheaper non-branded models out there. You can pick up a Chinese clone from Amazon for £100.
It’s worth considering both sides of the argument before shelling out the readies.
I must admit I was surprised at how quickly and comprehensively my tablet replaced my netbook. In fact I often find I am picking up my tablet instead of heading up to the desktop. Whilst I haven’t used it for any professional work, and never really expected to, it has become by go to leisure gadget of choice.
There are a couple of things I would change, I would love to have had an SD Card storage option and I could see HDMI out being useful on occasion. I am confident the software niggles will be sorted out and whilst I can live with these things it will give others pause for thought.
But all things considered, the Google Nexus 7 is a fantastic buy. And then when you remember how much it’s being sold for, you wonder how others are going to compete. I’m not convinced a 7″ iPad will ever appear but if it does I won’t be swapping.
Looking for the best place to buy an N7? We list out the direct links here. Do you already have the Google tablet, how does this review fit with your own feelings? Comment below or look for further opinions on the forum.