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Customer Review

641 of 674 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few issues, but overall a good intro tablet, August 18, 2012
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This review is from: Google Nexus 7 Tablet (16 GB) (Personal Computers)
Updated News as of April 3rd:

Google is set to release the 2nd edition of the Nexus 7 in July 2013. Resolution is expected to be bumped up to 1920 x 1080, new Qualcomm Snapdragon processor for increased speed, 2 gigs of RAM, a back camera, and for the cellular plan, LTE. Pricing rumors haven't been released. So, if you can wait a few months, it's probably best to see what Google has in store for the Nexus 7 Second Edition before buying the currently offered Nexus 7.

End of Update.

Full Disclosure:

I own an iPad 3 and an iTouch and a four, going on five year old Motorola dumb phone.

I'm not going deep into hardware specs, you can read other reviews for that.

[EDIT FOR NEWEST GOOGLE PRESS RELEASE]

On October 29th, Google released the updated Nexus 7. The ONLY things that changed was that the 8gb version was discontinued, the 16gb version dropped to $199 and the 32gb version was released for $249 (both available for purchase NOW). The 3G cellular version is on sale starting November 13, 2012. Do not buy the existing Nexus 7 versions at current prices posted on Amazon! You're paying way too much.

[/END EDIT]

Let's address some of the perceived flaws and some of the real flaws of the Nexus 7.

1) Storage. 8gb and 16gb (the two flavors the Nexus 7 comes in) can go real fast real quick in today's age of HD movies. I took my 16gb iPad on a trip and I maxed out with movies incredibly fast, even after I shrunk them down to least tolerable quality. The Nexus 7 does deserve some criticism for no Micro-SD slot and I was not going to buy it for that sole reason. However, like all good Android Tablets, there's a solution.

[SUPER BIG EDIT FOR HIGHLY IMPORTANT INFORMATION]:

It's called USB On The Go. Essentially you take a USB OTG cable (like $1 on Ebay), plug it into your Nexus 7, download the Nexus Media Importer app (Currently $3 on Google Play) and then connect whatever side hard drive or flash drive you want. The largest size external media I could connect to (and have access too) is a 3TB Western Digital. So much for 8/16 gig limits! The only problem I encountered with large drives is that the Media Importer app (which streams media as well as allowing one way coping to the Nexus 7) is that it crashes when you try to stream media out of folders that contain huge amounts of files, like 3,000 mp3s. If you're cheap, you can do much of the same via Stickmount and a file manager (Stickmount requires rooting). But the Nexus Media Importer just makes it ridiculously easy. Best $3 in credit I spent.

With OTG and flash drives you don't need the cloud. Ever. Seriously, whoever decided to not put in the MicroSD to force cloud should be fired at Google.

Oh yeah. And this requires absolutely ZERO rooting. Take your Nexus out of the box. Download the Nexus Media Importer App. Buy the cable. Plug in your thumb drive. You're good to go.

As of today (10/5/12), I was able to connect a canon point and shoot, iPad 3, iTouch, 4 small flash drives (less than 2 GB), a 1 TB and 3 TB external hard drives (Western Digital), a SD card reader (with regular and microSD via adapter) and was able to pull/stream files off all of them (FAT and NFTS formatting, no EXFAT at the moment sorry!). For some reason my old Motorola ZN5 (ancient eh?) no longer registers anymore, but as long as you plug in relatively new devices you'll be okay. An exception is I plugged in my 9 year old iRiver player and it streamed music perfectly.

Don't forget that OTG also lets you plug in and use keyboards (wired and wireless via dongle) and mice without rooting. Mice generate a cursor when plugged in. Also be aware that OTG may charge devices from your Nexus 7. For you true gamers, PS/3 controllers work as well. Not on all games, but games like Dead Trigger they'll work just like they do on a PS/3. Like to see that on a Kindle Fire or an iPad!

2) Display. Yes, it's not an iPad. It's also less than half the price of the new iPad. Text is still crisp and clean and colors are largely well done. Not iPad well done, but save yourself $300 well done. It's fairly responsive, not iPad response, but better than many other tablets out there. I have no complaints about it. As for the screen separation, that seems to be more of an issue with the 16gb version than the 8gb. I haven't had any ghosting issues either.

3) Camera is pretty terrible. The front facing 1.2 megapixel is nothing to get excited about. And there is no back camera. I honestly don't get why that's just a big deal. You look like a tool using the back camera. Anyone does. Even Olivia Wilde (13 on a total possible score of 10 house fans!) would look like a douche using a tablet's back camera to take video/pictures. Odds are you have your smartphone with a decent camera. Use that. There oddly though, is no app for the camera that ships with the Nexus 7. But there is a free Nexus 7 camera launcher app.

4) Apps. True, the Apple ecosystems has far more apps designed for tablets than Android does. But most of your apps, like skype, facebook, office utilities are all there. Furthermore, rather than being stuck on iTunes you can install Amazon's app store in addition to the preloaded Google Play store.

5) No cellular connection. Fair enough, but it does have the capacity to get on to a hotspot. Meaning, just tether your smart phone. Granted, that costs money, but the fact that something like 80% of all tablets sold, Android and Apple are wifi only suggests that cellular connections on tablets is highly overrated. If you're one of those 8 out of 10 people who don't care about cell connections on your tablet, this shouldn't obviously matter.

[EDIT]: The 3G cellular model available now on Google Play sells for $300. Also, does not support CDMA networks so no Verizon or Sprint. Ships with an AT&T sim card.[/Edit]

6) No Flash - This is technically half wrong. While Jelly Bean does not support Flash off the bat, there are FREE fixes to get flash on to your Nexus.

Google "Install Flash On Nexus 7"

The downside is you need a browser that is flash coded which includes Firefox Beta (free on Google play). It's a bit convoluted but follow the instructions and you'll have your flash games. I've posted pictures on the Nexus 7 8GB image gallery of both flash games AND streaming flash video off my Nexus 7.

If an iPad user like me can figure this out, you can too!

Now on to other things:

Little black rectangle is lightning fast. The five core processor (yes, there are five I'll get to that later) loads things speedy without crashes and without bugs. My iPad crashes apps pretty regularly. Only once has my settings crashed but that was largely due to me screwing up my setup of my Wi-Fi extender. I can't fault the Nexus 7 for that. Speaking of which, the Nexus was super useful walking all over my house and yard to diagnosis network deadzones and other problems. 3/4 of a pound and strong Wi-Fi pick up made that job real easy, especially with free Wi-Fi apps. I could have done that with my iPad, but that would have been far less fun. Also, the Nexus 7 picks up Wi-Fi networks my iPad doesn't.

Jelly Bean isn't as smooth as iOS 5/6 but it is better than every other Android device that my friends and family have used (and I played around with).

Oh yes, five cores. The process actually has a fifth core that keeps basic services running when the device is in sleep mode. That saves massive amounts of energy. The battery life on the Nexus is better than my iPad without comparison even when doing the same things. The fifth core doesn't operate during normal operations. Battery life on this device is phenomenal.

EDIT: On light usage, I am able to get ~195 hours before hitting 5% battery. On medium, movie watching no heavy gaming, I can regularly do ~110 hours before hitting 5%. GPS however, will eat power like nobody's business.

What I like about the Nexus 7 is that I can largely customize anything I want. The Nexus ships with a format that is more phone than tablet, but with a Root and a few apps, I was able to switch it to the Tablet UI that you see in 10" Android tablets. I personally prefer that format but it makes icons smaller to fit it all in. Not the best for older people. But that's the great thing about Android in general. Whatever you want to change, you probably can. And the Nexus 7 is no different.

Google Voice Search is pretty awesome. It's not as good as Siri in actually reading back answers to you, most of my searches lead to a web search with links. Weather does get repeated in a Siri like female voice. Speak slowly and clearly. Or you'll get weird results. Also, phrase questions more as searches than something you'd ask a real human. Google Voice does not do well with questions like "do I need an umbrella today?" Ask "Weather forecast (your location)."

Now, in my opinion, one of the coolest things about the Nexus 7 is in the built in GPS coupled with the free cached maps. Say you're going to visit your friend who's getting married in small town in Iowa. You can either buy a GPS or bring your Nexus 7 with the map of the small town saved to memory. Turn on the GPS and it will track where you on in the town on the map real time no wifi/cell connection required. I downloaded a map of my town and tracked myself going to work. Planning your route out can easily turn the Nexus 7 into a GPS system without any additional costs.

EDIT: Note, this doesn't give you turn by turn directions by itself. To get turn by turn directions you need the "NAvFree USA" (there is a Navfree for other countries) app off the Google Play store. It's free. Download your state and set your destination. It gives out voice commands on when to turn similar to a dedicated GPS device. It doesn't name street names which is expected considering it's free, but it is largely accurate saying "in 100 meters, turn right." My recent test of the app did ask me to drive over a divided highway though. As long as you pay attention though, this app coupled with the Nexus 7 will function as decent GPS offline, no wifi, no cell connection. And it even recalculates the route if you miss a turn.

Speaker is pretty terrible compared to iPad. But the audio on headphones is on par. I don't expect anyone to really use the speaker so I'm not counting that as a real disadvantage.

One thing: if you are a student planning on using this for notes, don't. The screen is way too small to actually take notes well and you need a blue tooth keyboard as well. Virtual on screen keyboard already eats up too much space. However, there is a speech to text and it might work well recording what your professor says. That said, you're better off with either the iPad or the Asus Transformer w/ keyboard. Or a real laptop.

All in all I do like the tablet and often I'll reach for it over the iPad. Except when it comes to shopping online and browsing (and Facebook). The 7" is simply too small to offer real competition to a 9~10" screen. The use of keyboard via OTG alleviates this a bit but the screen is still really small.

If you're looking to jump into Android, this is the tablet to do so. Plus if you buy now you get $25 in Google Play credit and a transformers movie copy. Not the biggest of Michael Bay but $25 brings the actual cost quite down.

Word of caution: the 16 GB versions seem to be affected by a poor manufacturing/QC issues. The 8 GB versions seem to have far fewer problems. If you're okay with OTG external storage, go with the 8 GB version as you're likely to have far less chance of getting a defective unit.

One more annoying fact: If you root your device and get a custom recovery, you can't install over the air updates. Found this out the hard way. You have to manually install Android updates.
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Showing 1-10 of 57 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 19, 2012 3:16:15 AM PDT
Tuan A. Pham says:
Great review. I especially like the GPS feature you mentioned. I already have an Ipad but will buy this to bring on travel and to get familiar with Android.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 19, 2012 4:45:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 19, 2012 4:46:25 PM PDT
D.L.C says:
Thanks! Be aware that the GPS doesn't actually give directions like a Garmin does (without additional apps). But you can place a destination on the map and the GPS will track your progress. So it's best to map out where you have to go and then use the GPS on the Android to keep you on track. I think the most useful part is that it will pinpoint you in case you get lost. That in my opinion, is incredibly helpful especially in a city you're unfamiliar with.

You might want to look into a car mount, generally the ones that bolt on the passenger seat. A 7" tablet is a bit larger to do a dashboard/front window mount.

I'm in your position too. I wanted to learn how to use Android and my parents need some form of internet connection on trips. Two birds with one stone, three if you include the GPS travel aspect.

Posted on Aug 29, 2012 1:51:28 PM PDT
Now this is a stellar review. Thanks for info (although they keep erasing the flash install details).

Posted on Aug 31, 2012 3:04:00 PM PDT
PA2000 says:
I have to agree...that was a stellar review. You have given me more reason to lean towards the Nexus7, especially with the info in regards to rooting/playing media. I was extremely concerned about the small amount of storage offered (not really sure why Google limited the storage-cloud or no cloud...even Apple offers three different storage options-oh well).

Thanks again, really useful and informative review.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2012 11:09:50 PM PDT
D.L.C says:
The storage seems to be a problem overall with the 7" form factor. Most of the 7" I know of that have MicroSD slots won't run apps off the MicroSD slot. Like the Samsung Tab 2, that has a mere 4 gigs of user available space. That's like two big games and you're done. The 8gb Nexus has about 5.96 free. The 16 about 13gb or so. Be aware that apps don't run off OTG. So if you're going heavy on the Apps get the 16gb version. If you're going heavy on the movies/music/pictures, save yourself some cash and get the 8gb and then OTG it.

What utterly pisses me off about the larger size tablets is that the cost of providing additional space is so minimal yet they charge so much. It costs Apple maybe $8 to go from 16gb to 32gb with their buying power. They charge $100 for that on the iPad. Samsung is one of the few companies who doesn't take you for a ride on the larger capacity tablets. Google charges $50 for 8 more gigs of space which probably cost them $5. The profit margin is horrendous on the larger sizes. As a consumer (and as living breathing human), I don't like being ripped off. That's why I like OTG as the cable cost me $1, the app $2 and 64gb flash drives go for under $40.

Google forced Cloud as they want you to buy stuff on it and get hooked into their ecosystem. But Cloud IMO is totally not ready. Most airlines don't have onboard wifi. Many 3rd world countries don't have reliable open wifi. Good luck finding reliable wifi out and about even in the first world. The only real reliable mobile cloud is if you tether your phone, but unless you're on Sprint you're likely going to hit your limit fast on media heavy tablet diet.

This whole push to the cloud thing needs to stop.

Be aware though that the 16gb for some reason tend to have screen issues more than the 8gb. But if you buy from Google, you should be fine with the customer support.

Posted on Sep 2, 2012 9:18:56 AM PDT
Bob G. says:
Your review was fantastic. You provided some useful information and made it very readable and approachable for a tablet novice like myself. Your description of people who use tablets for taking photos almost made me spit my coffee out in laughter!

Posted on Sep 12, 2012 12:52:51 AM PDT
TSB Scholar says:
Great review. Are there any restrictions on e-book file formats it can read? I've got everything including: pdf, txt, doc, rtf, ... and the usual e-book formats.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 12, 2012 8:05:12 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 12, 2012 8:05:28 PM PDT
D.L.C says:
Stock, I think it will display txt. The rest you gotta get apps.

There's a free adobe reader for PDF.
I think there is a free one for office where you can read but not edit. Android Office for $6 lets you access, edit and read all Microsoft formats.

ePub format is supported on a number of apps. The issue is digital rights management especially from Amazon. Encoded books won't run on the Nexus. But DRMs free ones will.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2012 4:23:19 PM PDT
Wavey Davey says:
Fantastic review, minus your emphasis on making the Nexus 7 into a sort-of-GPS, when that is just one big hassle after another to implement or use. Look, I've owned a Garmin Nuvi 660ia since three cars ago, 2004 to be exact: it's got BT, gives turn by turn directions AND says street names, plays MP3 files through my stereos via SDHC card (up to 16GB), plus a Lifetime Map Update subscription costs, today, c. $50+ the Nuvi's cost of about $200 back then was high at the time for me... but amortize its use through 8 years being constantly "On" and functioning when I'm driving my approximate 50K miles per year, and the cost is pennies a day.

You should have told people to just get a GPS if they really need one, preferably Garmin brand as they have the best GPS's to this day, and considerably low priced vs. 2004 pricing in my case, and be done with it. I've tried using my iPad2 32GB/WiFi/3G(AT&T)/ for GPS use, and it's a miserable replacement for the Nuvi 660 at best; also tried using my iPhone 4, & my newest phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note (original) 5.3" AMOLED display, as GPS's...they all failed miserably too, even considering the massive gift that WAZE is to any digital phone/tablet, as it's simply impractical to use tablets or smartphones as GPS's considering the bulletproof nature of a dedicated unit by Garmin like I have enjoyed for 8+ years, and counting.

I am sorry to comment about this to your otherwise stellar review, but it's necessary and nobody has done it yet, so I'm the one who's stating reality about dedicated GPS's vs. tablets or smartphones. You meant well, I know, about this subject, but buying a *quality and proven* GPS system like Garmin offers is so totally and completely the best solution for this necessary part of life in 2012, and driving in the USA or other countries, that there's nothing else to do if you value ease of use, practicality, performance, and sure fired accuracy, bare none. Again, thanks for the great review, it's really appreciated by those of us in Adroid Land who needed a decision helper for buying the Nexus 7 vs other tablets, or just plain like to see great reviews printed here at Amazon Reviews--because they are few and far between it turns out!

Kindest regards, Wavey Davey 9-14-2012

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2012 5:45:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 14, 2012 5:48:54 PM PDT
D.L.C says:
Don't the devices you mentioned do triangulation via cell tower? That's always going to be terrible compared to a real GPS. Is the Nexus 7 a better GPS than a dedicated GPS? Probably not.

But a decent GPS is going to cost you $200 anyways. And if you occasionally need a GPS, you may as well get the Nexus 7 as you get a tablet that can function as a decent GPS when you need it and function as a tablet the rest of the year. I only really need a GPS maybe 4 or 5 times a year. Assuming I keep it for 3 years, that $13.3 a use if I bought a dedicated one. To me, that's a little ridiculous. If you need a GPS often, you should probably get one. But, if you're like most people and just occasionally use it, it's better to get a device that has it as a decent capability rather than as a primary function.

You use your GPS on roads you travel often? Or is your 50,000 on new roads? I figure most people use GPS to find places they rarely go, or haven't been to.
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