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Why you should buy a Nexus 7 tablet

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By Nick - 08/01/12 at 08:47 PM CT

The Nexus 7 Google tablet has been a long awaited release to compete with the popular Kindle Fire 7 inch tablet by Amazon. Many people don't want to pay the outrages prices of Apple products or for large screen sizes like the Galaxy tablets. Asus has done a good job in producing a Nexus tablet that has everything you need at an affordable price. Price is one reason why the Kindle Fire has done so well. Unfortunately, Amazon re-skinned the Fire (modified Android OS) and locked it in to use with the Amazon store. Still a great device, but the Nexus 7 blows it, the Nook, and the iPad, out of the water. And here's why.

The screen on the Nexus 7 looks spectacular. It has a 1280x800 resolution, which beats all the other 7" tablets which only have 1024x600 pixel screens. This is one place where price increases the most, it is amazing Google and Asus were able to use this great looking screen and keep the starting price at $200.

Android OS
The Nexus 7, Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, and Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 all use the Android operating system. Which is great, except, the makers modify Android and re-skin to get a look they want. The Nexus 7 doesn't change anything. It uses pure Android, and uses the newest Android version out, Jelly Bean, v4.1. The Kindle Fire only uses Android version 2.3.3. I expect it will be quite a while till you see other tablets catching up to use Jelly Bean. There are vast improvements and features in Jelly Bean that make the Nexus 7 great.

The Nexus 7 comes with a lightning fast 4 core processor known as the Tegra 3. All the other tablets only have 2 core processors. This means the Nexus 7, combined with the refined Jelly Bean OS responds quickly to your touch, browses the web smooth, and plays all your games with ease.

The Nexus 7 didn't skimp on the memory either. You get a 1 GB of ram, which is found in other tablets, but the Kindle Fire only has half of that, coming with 512 MB of ram. Extra RAM means you can have more apps open on the tablet, and it will still run great. Which this is very common in Android, as closing an app doesn't actually "close" it, it simply hides it in the background. Over time, you have lots of apps open and you don't even realize it.

The base line Nexus 7 for $200 comes with only 8 GB of storage. I would have preferred the base model to start with 16 GB, but this seems to be the place where they skimped a bit. I would splurge and get the 16 GB Nexus 7 for $250, especially since there is no SD slot to add more storage on your own. In comparison though, the Kindle Fire for $200 only comes with 8 GB of storage. But Amazon expects you to run only things bought on Amazon, which you can grab anytime using their Cloud. I think storage is the one thing all tablets need to improve on. I think in the coming years you will see tons of storage. The flash memory used is small, not hard to jam in a thin tablet, but it is expensive.

GPS and Bluetooth
The Nexus 7 comes with both GPS and Bluetooth. Not going to find that in the Kindle Fire or the Nook. For me, the Bluetooth isn't a big deal, but the GPS sure is. Google can give you search results local to your area if you allow it to use your location services. This means if you take your tablet with you to a new city, your searches may actually be useful. But foremost, navigation using Google maps is huge benefit, since now you can cache maps for offline use. The GPS is spot on and makes this feature huge in your decision of which tablet to get.

Yep, you get a front facing camera on the Nexus 7. You will not find a camera on the Kindle Fire or Nook. You might ask, why not a rear facing camera too? Well, for one, price. A rear facing camera would most definitely be used for taking pictures of your outings or kids doing hilarious things. That would mean they would have to put in a good rear camera, which is expensive. So they left it out. The front facing camera they did put in is only 1.2 mega-pixels, and is meant to be used for things like video chat, etc. It's not meant to take pictures. And Google made this clear, they didn't even put a camera app on the Nexus like you find on phones. I can't even see if it works unless I use an app that uses it, like Skype or something. Either way, you are getting more for your money even if I probably will never use it.

The Nexus 7 comes with built in stereo speakers. They get the job done, but nothing great to use, your music will sound much better through headphones. But it is still good to have them for video on web pages like You Tube. The Kindle has basically the same thing, but the Nook only has a mono speaker.

The Nexus 7 comes with a large battery. The battery is 4326 mAh, compared to 4400 mAh on the Kindle and 4000 mAh on the Nook. Even if it isn't the largest, Google says the Nexus 7 will last 8 hours, compared to 7.5 on the Kindle Fire. The Nook claims 9 hours. With the refined Android OS Jelly Bean, and newer Tegra 3 processor, the Nexus 7 is able to achieve long use times before needing to charge the battery. So no worries there.

Wi-fi comes on all the tablets, but I always want to mention if you are not buying a tablet through your cell phone provider, you won't be using it with 3G or 4G. I have wi-fi at my house, and a fast connection at that, and the Nexus 7 browses the Internet extremely fast. I was impressed. With cell phone providers greediness and progression towards paid data cap plans, I wouldn't want to use it with cell service anyway. Get a Nexus 7 and use it at home on your wi-fi, avoid using your phone to watch media if you don't have an unlimited data plan like I do.

Other Extras
The Nexus 7, with Android Jelly Bean 4.1 comes with Google Now, kind of like a SIRI like app. It is not nearly as good, and will be updated since Apple isn't happy with Google for putting it in. It does work really well for simple things like what time it is, what the weather is like, things like that. It had no problem understanding my voice. If it can't answer your question straight out, it runs a Google search for you automatically and displays the search results. If you really learn the fine details of how to use it, you can even send email and add task notes to yourself using only your voice. I probably will never use it, it is more a novelty.

I like using the Nexus 7. It is very sleek, and has a nice border around the screen so you don't accidentally tap the screen while holding it. The USB and speaker jack are on the bottom sticking down, so not quite as convenient as you want if you are resting the thing on your fat belly. But if you're watching video you'll probably have the tablet horizontal anyway, to watch things widescreen. I also like having the power and volume buttons right on the side, available all the time. Very easy to turn the screen off or adjust volume at will. I've always hated tablets that only allow for volume adjustment using a virtual button on the screen. I want a real button on the damn thing! And the Nexus 7 has it.

The Nexus 7 comes with Google Chrome browser. No more un-named Android browser like in other versions of the OS. It simply comes with Chrome, which most people download and were using on other versions of Android already. One thing though, I could not get flash to work in the browser as of yet. I'm worried the Android version of Chrome does not support it. On my phone, Samsung Galaxy S III, I have adobe flash working in the Android browser, but not in Chrome. So I guess I have to wait on my tablet until everyone is using HTML 5 video and Adobe Flash disappears forever.

Google Play is the one stop shop for all your apps. Almost everything you want is free, except for some games, but those are still cheap. Why they renamed it from the Android Marketplace I don't know, maybe they wanted a more catchy name? Either way, you'll be able to find Angry Birds, Facebook app, Twitter app, Pandora, Weather Bug, and many other popular apps to install on your Nexus 7 right away. I've had no issues with any of the apps yet on Jelly Bean 4.1, although I don't have everything I'll use on there as of yet. I plan on installing Rhapsody, Netflix, both of which require a subscription, which I have.

Other apps I recommend is ES File Explorer. It allows you to connect to shares on your home network. I have access to all my MP3s and video. The MP3s play great. I have some movies too, and the high quality MP4 movies (H.264 AVC) do not stream well through ES File Explorer using the default video player that comes with Android. If the video size is smaller, like 700 MB for a 2 hour movie, it works great, and if done right, still looks great on the tablet. If you really want to stream your high quality digital movies, you will have to get the video player app called MX Player, which is free. It seems to play larger files better and allows you to play outdated video formats like AVI. I highly encourage converting all your videos to MP4s though, which provides much better compression and quality in a smaller file size, plus is universally supported and will play better on all your devices and will be supported far into the future.

If you think your Google tablet is locked and only allows apps from the Google Play store, you are wrong (unlike the Apple Store). If you want to install some other third party app, and it's not available on Google Play, you can simply change a system setting to allow it and you're good to go. With malicious apps cropping up, I don't suggest doing this, unless you trust the source. Being a developer, it was easy to do this so I could test my apps. When looking for apps in Google Play, always look for the number of installs and overall rating. It is pretty easy to see which ones work great and are safe to use. Even the NBC Olympics live steaming app works pretty darn good.

To sum things up, the Nexus 7 by Google is the best, small, affordable tablet out there right now. If you're looking for a 7 inch tablet, and don't mind the smaller size, buy a Nexus 7. The price is great, and you get a lot for your money. Apple didn't think people would ever like a small 7" tablet, boy I think they got that one wrong. Especially since there are rumors that Apple is going to have one in the near future. Either way, avoid Apple. They think they should have a monopoly on this market, suing everyone that looks at them the wrong way. Clearly they don't like the competition, cause then they will be forced to lower their ridiculously high prices on their iPads. The Nexus 7 is going to be the best tablet for first time goers that finally want one, without any compromise. Whether you want to play all the newest Android games, or want it to consume media or stalk your friends on Facebook, it will work great for everything.

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View Nelson Schneider's Profile

Nelson Schneider

Wrote on08/05/12 at 03:53 PM CT

Google and MS are both used to sitting around and letting their partners do part of the work, while Apple does everything itself. Since all of these partner companies have utterly failed to produce a compelling tablet running either Android or Windows, I don't feel like Google or MS is out of line in producing a real iPad competitor. Yes it makes the partner companies look bad... but so do the terrible tablets they have produced (or failed to produce)!

I wouldn't touch 3G/4G with a stick. Charging $15 per GB of overage is moronic and greedy.

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View Alex's Profile


Wrote on08/03/12 at 05:36 PM CT

A lot of people are rooting their android or iphone to get free wifi tethering. Matt - you may want to try this.

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View Nick's Profile


Wrote on08/02/12 at 02:10 PM CT

You're right that the Nexus 7 isn't sold at cell phone carriers. That's because cell phone carriers are behind on technology by quite a bit. The Tegra 3 4-core processor is not supported and cannot be used on the 3G/4G networks. That is why it took so long to get the Galaxy S III phone to the U.S., cell carriers had to take the awesome phone and downgrade it to use a 2-core processor. When I got my Galaxy S III, I thought it was fast, but compared to my Nexus 7, it is now laggy at times. Wish it had the Tegra 3 like the version over in Europe. One good thing to note is the use of Google Maps in your car without Internet is possible, you can now cache maps offline to use when you don't have Internet. That's a great thing for the Nexus 7, which has GPS.

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View Matt's Profile


Wrote on08/02/12 at 09:39 AM CT

It is hard to beat $200 for a 7 inch tablet. You are right that the Nexus 7 is the best option. My experience with the Kindle Fire is that the user input quite often feels laggy. Scrolling, clicking on menu items and other input is not smooth at times, and even jittery. Jelly Bean supposedly fixes some of the scrolling problems in Android by reworking input (Google even labels it Butter), which for me is a welcomed feature. Also, I don't think that there is even a 3G/4G version available to buy, even through the carriers. Maybe Google is trying to show them that there is demand for the Nexus 7, so then they will have bargaining power. I do think that 3G/4G isn't as bad you paint it. If you could turn the service on an off and pay by the month, without a contract, it really isn't that bad. Yes there are data caps, but 4G is damn fast (at least on Verizon) and it is helpful when there is no Wifi. Yes, Wifi is nearly ubiquitous, but there are times traveling when 3G/4G has come in very handy for me. An option from Google would at least be nice to have.

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