(By Ken Macharia) The first impression of the new Nexus 7 2013 is how portable and light it is. It comfortably seats well on average-size hands and is easy to handle. I have been using the Nexus 7 for a few weeks now and I can say it is one of the best tablets in the market. But don’t take my word for it. Several reviews have given the tablet an above average rating. C-net has a four star rating of ‘excellent’ and Trusted Reviews gave the tablet an 8/10 rating, while Wired gave the Nexus 7 a thumbs up of 9/10.
But what exactly makes the Nexus 7 an exceptional tablet? When Google partnered with Asus to manufacture the first Nexus 7 last year, it was a much improved version of the Nexus 4.
The 7-inch tablet was a bridge between the larger tabs and smaller screen phones. The tablet offered impressive high-end features at a very reasonable price. With the upgraded Nexus 7 2013, Google and Nexus have considerably improved the specs while maintaining the competitive price range. Users have the option of going with the 16GB $229 (Sh19,23), 32GB $269 (Sh23,403) or the Sh30,363 32 GB LTE version. Apart from the differences in memory, there is little that separates the three versions. Unfortunately the memory is not expandable.
Design and Hardware
Design-wise, the handy Nexus 7 offers flexibility and portability only compared with few tablets including the iPad mini. Weighing 290 grams, I can easily squeeze the Nexus in-between my A5 notebook, slip it in an envelope or inner coat pocket and comfortably walk around without feeling the weight. The matte black rubber back cover gives it the grip and protects the tablet from oily substances and dust. The 7-inch HD screen has a resolution of 1,920×1,200 pixels, giving users a clear, crisp display – even against direct sunlight.
The smoother round edges not only protects the tablet from accidental chips but also protects the users hands when using for a longer period. It may not be a Kindle but the Nexus 7 is easy on the eye for reading plus has excellent multimedia display. Asus kept it simple with buttons and accessories.
The volume rocker, power button, headphone jack are pretty straight forward but the SIM slot is not too intuitive. Users struggle a bit to find the slot and when found, it takes another few minutes to figure out how to open it. But the fact you have an option of browsing on the go is a great plus. Luckily, in Kenya, 3G service is quite good and has expanded to most parts of the country. The two speakers at the top and bottom have enough sound quality to watch movies with a few friends and on the go.
The 5MP back camera on the Nexus 7 takes okay photos, under good lighting. For photo lovers, this may be a let down especially in less-than-ideal photo conditions. But for the average user, the quality is good enough. However, what it lacks in imaging, the Nexus 7 makes it up in long-battery life (approximately 10 hours without recharging when in full use). The tablet supports SlimPort, which allows you to use the Micro-USB port as an HDMI port via an adapter, but there is no physical HDMI port on the Nexus 7.
Software and Processor
Nexus 7 runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and quad-core processor. The touch screen is very responsive and has intelligent-touch keyboard which predicts words as you type. Apps open within a fraction of a second and you can feel it can handle above average usage like playing HD games as other processes run in the background.
The 4.3 Jelly Bean comes with a new nifty way of showing notifications as you swipe down at the top of the screen. In addition, location-based apps still work even when you are out of Wi-Fi range. One of the additions that have been added to Android 4.3 is the ability to create multiple users such that you can restrict what your kids watch or protect your vital documents when other people are using the tablet.
The Nexus 7 is the best tablet of its kind with an affordable price tag without compromising on quality and functionality. For users who are price-sensitive, prefer smaller portable devices and heavy users of multimedia content, the Nexus 7 is the best deal you can get.