Hands on with Google's Nexus 7 Tablet

We found both plusses and minuses in our initial test drive of Google's lightweight, inexpensive tablet.

Google's Nexus 7 tablet is on display here at Google I/O, and I spent some time handling the device to see how it compares with its Android competition. And the truth is, my first impression is that it seems to get a lot right, but it's not a complete, compromise-free home run for Google. Here's why.

What's Right

The display, even in the funky lighting of a trade show floor, still looked good. The high-resolution 1280 by 800 pixel display makes a huge difference compared with the current standard for 7-inch tablets--1024 by 600 pixels. I look forward to putting the Nexus 7 through its full paces with PCWorld's display test images to see how it responds with my own high-resolution images. But the Nexus 7's higher resolution is clearly a plus.

I also liked the grippy, rubberized back that, coupled with the tablet's light, 0.75-pound weight, makes it really easy to hold in one hand. That makes it conducive to reading or sharing content with friends.

In my limited usage, the Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS made the unit feel zippy in general navigation, but I still encountered moments of stutter as I switched among media.

What's Wrong

The first thing that jumped out to me was the lack of a removable media card slot. With on-board storage limited to just 8GB or 16GB, the lack of an expansion slot is an unfortunate omission, and an unfortunate compromise to achieve a price point. Amazon got (and deserved) a lot of criticism for a similar lack in its 8GB Kindle Fire. Even Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet has a microSD card slot.

Also missing: A rear camera. Video chat is important, but scanning QR codes, business cards or bar codes are all useful and practical reasons a rear-facing camera on a tablet remains a good thing. It's unfortunate that Google and Asus had to compromise on these to get Google Nexus 7 out at the price they do.

What's Most Interesting

The new Google Play widgets for your library of reading material, as well as for what you're listening to, look useful. The new launcher also looks useful; the Google demonstrators say you'll find it on Android 4.1 devices of a certain size and definition (ie, portrait 7-inch tablets). These widgets are part of Play, though, and should become available to any tablet that upgrades to Android 4.1--whenever that may be.

I'll be back with more impressions once I get a Nexus 7 of my own to spend some quality time with, using my own content.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Melissa Perenson

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?