Google Nexus 7 review – Hardware, Design and Performance

Continuing the Coolsmartphone group review of the Nexus 7 tablet. Now we have Stephen and Garry covering the hardware side of things.

Nexus 7 Hardware & Design (by Stephen Murray)

Well, where do I begin…? Maybe the bit I found most surprising.

The Nexus 7 is light, it weighs in at a mere 340 grams and as such is a joy to hold. When comparing it to my aging Advent Vega (10” Tablet), I’d say it feels about half the weight. Being so light means gaming is a pleasure, as you won’t suffer from one arm getting tired from holding it.

The Nexus 7 feels like it is solidly built and the back of the tablet feels like a high quality leather, which is nice. The rear cover has the Nexus logo and Asus logos embossed in to it.

The 3 hardware buttons are located on the upper part of the right side, Power, Volume Up and Volume Down. All other input is done via the touch screen.

On the left hand side there are 4 ‘pogo pin’ contacts, these should be put to use when the dock is made available. This dock should make it easier than having to plug in a micro USB to charge the device.

The tablet has 2 microphones, one situated near the pogo pins and the other on the top of the rear cover. This should help with dictation and using voice commands for Google Now.

According to the ifixit teardown, the Nexus 7 comes with two speakers, both housed under one single grill at the rear of the unit. As the speakers are mounted so closely together, don’t expect too many stereo effects when playing music.

The headphone jack is a standard 3.5mm job, mounted on the bottom left of the unit along with the Micro USB port for charging and PC connection. I would prefer the headphone jack to be on the right of the base, being on the left can mean your headphone lead gets in the way when using the Nexus in landscape mode.

The front facing camera is mounted top centre of the screen, quality isn’t bad from a 1.2mp. I have used it for Google Talk, with reasonable results. Just don’t expect to be taking award winning photos with it though.

In my opinion, the Nexus 7 feels as well built as any Apple device. I think Apples rumoured 7” device will struggle against the Nexus7. The materials used feel more expensive than the price point of the Tablet.

What’s missing?

I feel the device is missing a port. I would like to either have an MHL port, or a HDMI port. This was probably omitted from the build requirements due to Google also launching the Nexus Q media streaming device at the same time.

I would also like to be given the option to order the unit with a white back. The white backed units were given out to attendees of Googles IO 2012, and they do look very nice.

Nexus7 Performance (by Garry Clark)

For starters I have been very impressed with the performance of the Nexus 7, having used various different Tablets and Smartphones I have found that for Bang for your Buck you cannot really beat this device. A lot of this is being driven by the powerful NVidia Tegra 3 chip, but the new Project Butter implementation that has come with Android 4.1 really shows.

Page transitions are smoother and more fluid, the opening of apps is quicker and scrolling through text heavy pages is a delight. The whole tab just feels like a huge evolution from what has gone before including the previous Google Experience Device Tablet, the Motorola Xoom.

With regard to benchmarks I have tested the Nexus7 against a Galaxy S3 and I have also tested this against iPad 2 where I can.

Quadrant       Nexus 7 3267                       Galaxy S3 5411

LinPack         Nexus 7 123.29        Galaxy S3 151.54    iPad 2 147.75

Overall I think this is one of the best Android devices that I have used to date even outing the Transformer Prime. It also gives the iPad 2 a real run for its money and it will be interesting to see what happens if Apple bring out an iPad Mini.