Google Nexus 7

On a recent business trip I was annoyed by the heavy weight of my Thinkpad Tablet – this and the badly customized Android distribution by Lenovo forced me to have a look for alternatives. Some days ago I could play a few minutes with the Nexus 7 of a colleague – I was amazed by the device.

In short – I decided to order and test such a device.

Technical data

The specifications of the Nexus 7 are really interessting – the device is cheaper and more powerful than my Thinkpad Tablet:

Thinkpad Tablet Nexus 7
CPU generation Tegra 2 Tegra 3
2x 1 Ghz 4x 1.3 Ghz
Memory 1 GB
Android 3.1, 4.0.4 4.1.2, 4.2.1
Screen 10.1″ @ 1280×800 (149 ppi) 7″ @ 1280×800 (216 ppi)
Weight 750g 340g
External interfaces USB, Mini-HDMI, SD-Karte, Docking USB-OTG over Micro-USB
Network GPS, n-Draft WLAN, Bluetooth, (UMTS)
Extras optional pen control, second webcam, SD card reader NFC
Storage 16, 32, 64 (8), 16, 32
Price 480 € (16 GB WLAN) 570 € (16 GB UMTS) 660 € (32 GB UMTS) 750 € (64 GB UMTS) 199 € (16 GB WLAN) 249 € (32 GB WLAN) 299 € (32 GB UMTS)

First glance

In spite of the cheap price the Nexus 7 isn’t processed cheaply at all like frequently supposed. I couldn’t find any flimsy edges or creaking case parts. Thanks to the rubber coating the Nexus 7 feels very comfortable and fits in every tiny bag. With a weight of only 300 grams the device can also be used for longer times while standing or lying – an ideal companion for long bus and trail trips.

I personally like the form factor of the Nexus 7 – a 10″ tablet is slightly too big in my opinion. The 7″ device is tiny and can be carried everywhere – unlike the rather chunky Thinkpad Tablet.

The Nexus 7 comes with Android 4.1 – an update for 4.2.1 is available through the update function. The naked Android is minimalistic but in no case ugly. In comparsion with my Thinkpad Tablet I realized that the Nexus 7 performs very fast – there are no lags like in the needlessly customized Android distribution by Lenovo. The pure Android version designed by Google is satisfying.

The case of the Nexus 7 is minimalistic in the same way – beside a 3.5mm pin there is only a Micro USB port. One of the reasons why I bought the Thinkpad Tablet once was the amount of external interfaces. Beside a full USB port the Thinkad Tablet also had a Mini HDMI port and a SD card reader. The full USB port can be upgraded using a USB OTG adapter – using this adapter even input and storage devices can be connected to the tiny tablet. HDMI is not available on the Nexus 7 – but I don’t really care about this.

The missing SD card reader is a trend in new smartphones and tables that I totally dislike. Because I’m carrying a lot of data and testing a plenty of ROMs on my smartphone this would be a “killer argument” against a new smartphone. Using this heavy frequentation I successfully crashed some SD cards by now. On my tablet I don’t want to play that much – the device is used as digital newspaper and PDF reader, it is used more rarely and should work as designed. Having 32 GB of space for stuff looks fair to me – I don’t have any storage doubts at the moment. On my previous tablet I had 32 GB flash and additional 16 GB on a memory card – I never used this any way.

Benchmark test

Using AnTuTu Benchmark I compared the two devices – and was suprised:

Test Thinkpad Tablet Nexus 7
Memory 1043 1867
CPU Integer 1514 3577
CPU Float 1115 2700
2D 428 785
3D 967 2878
Database I/O 280 545
Summary 5347 12694

I never would have guesses that the differences between Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 are that high.

While my Thinkpad Tablet has its problems while playing 1080p streams the Nexus 7 just plays the video as expected. Games are performing more smoothy and looking better thanks to the higher pixel density.

The Thinkpad Tablet’s firmware is causing some stutters that the device shouldn’t have because of the hardware. Probable this is caused by the Lenovo customized Android distribution – like with a lot of other Android devices on the market. Unfortunately there are not very much alternative but stbale ROMs on auf xda-developers – the Thinkpad Tablet is a niche product.

The Nexus 7 is performing very well even if multiple applications are opened – I didn’t recognize any stutters so far.

This is how Android should perform on a tablet – without any bloat and crap ware.

Conclusion

The Nexus 7 offers a very good quality/price ratio. It is cheap and offers a lot of power for the little money – it doesn’t have to hide itself behind more expensive devices. Using its comfortable size and weight of only 340g the device is a ideal daily companion. If you want to play some games and read messages and books on the road without paying a high price, the Nexus 7 might be your device.

Photo gallery

Attached some pictures of both devices:

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