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Google Nexus 7 Review: State-of-the-Art Features, Performance & Price

What a difference a Jelly Bean can make! Home runs don’t come easy in the technology arena especially in the tablet market with a third-generation, 800-pound gorilla named iPad® already sitting in the room and an upstart Kindle Fire® threatening to burn the house down. But, if you’ve been disappointed by the fit and finish of previous Android releases, then it’s time to have another look. Whether you’re a road warrior or a couch potato, you’re gonna love the new Nexus 7 quad-core tablet from Asus. Open the case and look into your Nexus 7’s eyes. Blink once1 and boom. Your desktop appears. Incredible features. Stunning performance. And unbelievable price.

We like to start with the bad news. There’s not much: no rear-facing camera, no microSD expansion slot, and no HDMI port. Don’t make the mistake of buying the 8GB tablet. While $199 is appealing, you’ll quickly wish you’d spent the additional $50 to purchase the 16GB flavor. Remember, the storage is not expandable. But, if you hurry, you’ll get a $25 gift card to Google Play. So go for broke and splurge. You’ll want to fill all 16 gigs with lightening fast Android apps. And there’s no longer a shortage of choices. Almost anything that you’d find on an iPad is available for the Nexus 7… and then some. The one missing feature in Jelly Bean is Flash support. That’s Adobe’s doing, not Google’s. But there’s an easy fix. Load the Firefox Beta browser and side load the Adobe Flash Play 11.1 apk, and you’re back in business.

If you follow our musings on Nerd Vittles, you know that we eat our own dog food. So our Nexus 7 has both a PPTP VPN and NeoRouter VPN activated. We connect back to our PBX in a Flash server through one of the VPN connections and log in as an extension on the home Asterisk® server using Bria for Android. We activate a Google Voice account using GrooVe IP. And we connect back to an OBi device in the home office using OBiON. That makes three active phones for inbound and outbound calls right on the Nexus 7 desktop. Incoming calls to our home office pop up using Gtalk with the new Nerd Vittles’ GV Call Notifier.

As you can see from the above screenshot (actual screen size), our most recent Gmail messages, Google Calendar, and today’s weather forecast for our current location are displayed whenever the tablet is opened for use. The PIAF Forums are one click away with Tapatalk as is access to your favorite dozen apps and 20,000 of your favorite songs.

Drooling for Apple’s Siri? You’ll love the new, voice-activated Google Search which puts Siri to shame. Watch the video above and decide for yourself. And then there’s Google Now:

It tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform, or your favorite team’s score while they’re playing. And the best part? All of this happens automatically. Cards appear throughout the day at the moment you need them.

The Nexus 7 also sports a gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and a GPS chip that can take advantage of Google Maps new off-line mode when WiFi isn’t available. Want to take a high-res screenshot? Just hold down the Power and Vol/Down buttons at the same time, and presto, your screenshot is saved. Video conferencing also is a breeze using either Google Talk or Skype. File transfers are equally easy thanks to NFC. Just tap two Jelly Bean devices together and the file transfer is on its way wirelessly. And then there’s Google Wallet which lets you pay for purchases with the tap of your Nexus 7. In a revolutionary move, there’s also a well-written, real User’s Guide (as in book) at your fingertips. Just click the Book icon to access your entire book collection including the User’s Guide. We could go on, but you get the idea. It’s revolutionary as is the price!

We can’t really show the near instantaneous response that a quad-core processor provides. Suffice it to say, this isn’t a Kindle Fire brimming with compromises to save on production costs. It’s a fast, no-compromise, state-of-the-art tablet with battery life that rivals any iPad. Because of web constraints, the above screenshots really don’t provide an accurate rendering of the actual screen resolution. Simply put, the 1280×800 WXGA screen leaves the Kindle Fire in the dust. Watching 720p videos of the Summer Olympics is nothing short of amazing with images literally jumping off the screen. For those of you that still wear suits to work, the Nexus 7 will fit comfortably in your inside suit pocket. Weighing in at just 12 ounces, you won’t be listing to one side from carrying the Nexus 7 in your pocket. In fact, it’s about 20% lighter than a Kindle Fire which makes a huge difference with the form factor of this device.

Last but not least, the setup process is now as smooth as silk. In about 5 minutes, everything is configured, your Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Music and photo collections are all synced and ready for use. Run, don’t walk, and buy this tablet. It’s that good. And it’s less than half the cost of the cheapest, entry level New iPad. Does it replace a desktop PC or Mac? No. Could it replace an iPad? In a heartbeat.

Originally published: Monday, July 30, 2012

Astricon 2012. Astricon 2012 will be in Atlanta at the Sheraton beginning October 23 through October 25. We hope to see many of you there. We called Atlanta home for over 25 years so we’d love to show you around. Be sure to tug on my sleeve and mention you’d like a free PIAF Thumb Drive. We’ll have a bunch of them to pass out to our loyal supporters. Nerd Vittles readers also can save 20% on your registration by using coupon code: AC12VIT.

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Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

  1. In case you’ve forgotten, one of the criticisms of the original face recognition device security was the fact that you could hold up a photo of the person with another device and walk right into the tablet. Forcing the person to blink once pretty much solves that. Most photos don’t blink. 🙂 []


  1. If I already have an Android phone, I will have to have a second Google account for use on the Nexus 7, correct?

    [WM: Nooooo. That’s the beauty of Android. Buy an app once, and it works on all of your Android devices so long as you’re registered with the same Google account name on everything.]

  2. Is there a native SIP client on Nexus 7? As far as I know it doesn’t come with any phone apps, is it true?

    If I have Bria or SIPDroid installed on Nexus 7, can I talk with the bluetooth headset? For some android tablets, the bluetooth is unable to connect a bluetooth headset.

    [WM: No native SIP client with a dialer, but there are plenty of free ones on Google Play. Nexus 7 has Bluetooth 4.0 so there should be no problems connecting the Nexus 7 to a headset.]

  3. I bought an 8GB Nexus 7, direct from Google. It arrived very timely, and that’s where the good stuff ends.

    I didn’t have the fit & finish problems, and my screen wasn’t falling apart like many are. At boot, mine gave the "Unfortunately, NFC service has stopped." error. The error appears, you click OK, and in less than a second, it’s back. Lots of folks with this problem too. Workaround is to complete the setup, one agonizingly slow click at a time, activate USB debug, again, painfully so because of the recurring error dialog. After 5-10 minutes to get that completed, you download and install the android sdk. Then you grab the stock Jelly Bean image, unpack the file, use adb to reboot to the bootloader, use fastboot to reflash the bootloader, then reboot back to the bootloader and reflash with the stock image.

    Too much like a science project for my tastes. And I’m a geek that likes to tinker.

    So, call up Google to arrange a swap. Hold for an hour, get someone who takes my info, but can’t actually do anything about the problem besides forward my info to some other team. I’ll hear back within 24-48 hours. 3 days later, nothing in my email, even checked spam. Nada, zip, zilch. Call again, this time 45 minute hold. All apologies, but still can only forward my info. But this time, it will be flagged as "priority" since I’ve been waiting for 3 days. Should hear within a couple of hours. 6 hours later, I called again. This time,only 1 minute hold. And I got someone who could do something, but, by that time,I was done with them. They agreed to refund without a restocking fee.

    My iPad isn’t only a pleasure to use, but it works. And if it stops working, the apple store is just up the road.

    The N7 seems cool, but it needs more time in the oven, and Google needs some CRM processes to be fixed, badly.

  4. @Jason

    I totally agree with you about Google’s customer support. They need to work on it, especially if they are going to pursue selling physical products with a store front website.

    I am sorry to hear about your experience with the Nexus 7, but mine has been the opposite. I purchased one 16GB for myself. When my wife started playing with it, she wanted one for herself. I got her an 8GB version. Both were purchased from the Google Play store and both have worked flawlessly. We are both impressed at what you get for the price.

    Sounds like you got a lemon. I haven’t heard of others that have had the problems you had. I’m sure there are people out there with problems, and those that are dissatisfied tend to be a lot more vocal than those that aren’t.

    For me I would recommend the Nexus 7 to anyone that is interested in a tablet. It has been a fantastic product, and I got two for less than I could get the cheapest (current gen) iPad .

  5. I bought an 16GB Nexus 7, from Google play. I have a problem with pairing my bluetooth headset with it. It can not find the headset at all, though it is fine with my cellphone.

  6. I’m loving using Google voice and GrooveIp, currently I’m using the built in mic and wired headset. Can you recommend a BT headset and if additional apps are required?

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