Nexus 7 Review: One Week Later

Last week, I finally got my hands on Google’s first Nexus-branded tablet, the Nexus 7. And after some initial concerns, I, like many others, have been pleasantly surprised by Google and Asus’ effort. Here, I want to share my thoughts about the tablet after spending a full week with it by my side.

Initially, I was pretty lukewarm about the Nexus 7. I had seen the original Asus Eee Pad MeMO at CES 2012 and liked what I had seen but when the product made its magical transformation into the Nexus 7 at Google I/O, I found myself less excited than I had been six months earlier.

I now blame most of that on extremely high expectations.

However, once all the shipping delay nonsense died down, I decided to pick up the Nexus 7 after seeing two glowing reviews from my Gotta Be Mobile cohorts.

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So far, I love the Nexus 7.

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From the outset, the 8GB model wasn’t an option. I have had a terrible time trying to cope with the 16GB limit on my new iPad and the last thing I needed was less space than that on my Nexus 7.

So I opted for the $249 16GB model which arrived, to my surprise, fairly soon after I put in an order.

Over the past week I have had the tablet at my side for my daily travels and overall, the device has found a nice home alongside my new iPad and my two smartphones. Yes, it has its flaws, and I’ll note some of those below, but for the most part, the Nexus 7 has been well worth the investment.

Form Factor

As soon as I took the Nexus 7 out of the box, I knew that Asus and Google had crafted something pretty darn special with the Nexus 7. Often times, cheap tablets feel cheap. The Nexus 7, although priced like a cheap tablet, does not feel that way at all.

Like Warner, I love how the device fits in my hand. It’s easy to grasp, isn’t extraordinarily heavy and has ports and buttons in all the right places.

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Specifically, Asus has positioned the headphone jack on the bottom of the Nexus 7, something I wish Apple would do with the iPad.

I also agree with Warner’s sentiment about not wanting to put the device in a case. I really enjoy the size of the Nexus 7 as it is and I don’t want to add anything extra to its form factor.

Display

I haven’t experienced any of the display issues that have affected many Nexus 7 owners, our own Xavier Lanier included. Instead, I’ve grown fond of the Nexus 7’s display for things like games, videos and television shows.

No, it’s not as good as the Retina Display, but nonetheless, it’s still a great display that delivers my content in high-definition.

One thing I’ve noticed is that it doesn’t do too well when out in the direct sunlight. I took it to the park and after about 15 minutes, I decided to put it away in favor of a regular book. It really could have used some anti-glare technology but I guess I shouldn’t complain.

This is a device that did cost $250 after all.

Battery Life

Thus far, the battery life on the Nexus 7 has been admirable. I get around seven hours of battery life when using it normally throughout the day.

A typical day of use includes playing a couple of games, surfing the web, checking and writing email, listening to music, and playing a show or two.

I consider myself a little above the average user in terms of usage. Average users will likely get a bit better than seven hours of battery life out of the Nexus 7.

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This happens a lot, unfortunately.

Apps

Thus far, apps have been the biggest letdown in my experience with the Nexus 7. Several apps, like Yammer, which I use to communicate with my co-workers, still are not compatible with the Nexus 7. Other applications, like the NFL Preseason Live application run terribly.

Netflix runs fine, as do the official apps from Facebook and Twitter, but there are still many applications that have issues on the Nexus 7. As Xavier put it, it’s either a minor annoyance or a major headache and in my case, it has been a headache trying to sift through the apps that do and do not work.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is far and away better than Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and that is the main reason it’s so disappointing that there are only a couple of devices that run it here in the United States.

It’s as smooth and as fast as advertised and I absolutely love that I can re-size my widgets. I also like the new keyboard, the offline Voice dictation, and Google Now. Google Now’s predictions will only get better as time goes on but thus far, I’ve found it more useful than creepy.

I can’t wait until Android 4.1 Jelly Bean arrives for my Verizon Galaxy Nexus.

Camera

I’ve used the front-facing camera a couple of times and it’s decent. It’s not amazing but it’s good enough that I’ll use it from time-to-time for video chat. This is something that I never do on my new iPad because of how bad it is.

Many people have complained about the lack of a rear facing camera on the Nexus 7. I haven’t missed it whatsoever.

Storage Space

While I’ve had lots of trouble with the 16GB of storage space on my new iPad, I haven’t had the same issue on my Nexus 7. Part of that is because of the fact that I’ve only had it for a week but it’s also because lots of my content is stored inside of the cloud.

Read: Why I Regret Buying the 16GB New iPad.

A majority of my space has been taken up by games. I use apps like Pandora and Spotify to stream music which has cut down on the amount of space I use up on my tablet.

I would have loved a 32GB model or at the very least, a microSD card slot for option storage space but so far, 16GB has been suitable.

Again, I can’t even imagine having 8GB of space though. I think I used up 8GB on the first night of owning the Nexus 7.

Travel

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The Nexus 7 is a fantastic travel companion.

This is where the Nexus 7 shines. I traveled down to San Diego over the weekend for a wedding and the Nexus 7 was a perfect travel companion. I whipped it out a few times for directions and to occupy myself and the form factor and screen were much more ideal than my iPad which is much more useful when I am sitting in a chair at home.

Overall

Though it’s only been a week, I am beginning to find more and more use for my 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet. No, it won’t replace my new iPad completely but then again, I didn’t buy it to do that.

Read: Nexus 7 Flaws: Things to Consider Before Buying Google’s Tablet.

I bought it to be a solid travel companion and an alternative to a Kindle and Nook and it has lived up to my expectations so far.

Has it lived up to yours?