Nexus 7: First Impressions

As we watched the Google I/O Day 1 keynote back in June, many of us at LockerGnome were excited for what we knew was coming. For instance: a 7″ Nexus device. We were so excited, in fact, a few of us pre-ordered the device the same day — myself included. Chris even pre-ordered during his live keynote discussion stream. I’m happy to report that those of us who pre-ordered are receiving these devices today, as planned. I am fortunate enough to get to take a break from this device to write a few of my initial impressions, so let’s get cracking.

The Packaging

Nexus 7: First ImpressionsThe first thing I said to myself upon seeing the box UPS dropped off was: “Wow, that’s a tiny box.” Indeed, the Nexus 7 came in perhaps the most compact box I’ve ever had expensive hardware arrive. Don’t worry, though — it’s bigger on the inside!

The box holding the Nexus 7 is clean and smooth, just like the device itself. Recently a video has been circulated mocking the Nexus 7 for being a bit of a pain to unbox. However, I had the insight to bring a pair of scissors to the party and things went swimmingly. It’s much less of a nightmare than said video would have you believe, trust me.

Upon opening the box, the Nexus 7 gave me a big smile as it sat front and center. Underneath it came the manuals, USB cable, and AC charger. Nothing too life-changing in the unboxing portion, but the device itself is what I cared about, anyway.

The Hardware

As soon as I unwrapped the Nexus 7 from its protective plastic wrappings, I almost had a bit of a breakdown when I first felt the back of the device. Perhaps it’s just personal preference, but I am in love with Asus’ choice of material to back the Nexus 7. It’s smooth to the touch, but I am also not at all worried about the device slipping out of my hand. It’s not a glossy material either, so there’s no need to worry about fingerprints muddying up the aesthetics.

The Nexus 7 is rounded in the back, but has a bit of a sharper edge as it makes its way to the front. This gives it a distinct feel when I’m holding it in my hand; the edge really gives me something for my fingers to hold onto, further quelling any fears that this thing is going to slip and slide while it is in my grasp.

For a $200/$250 tablet, the screen is surprisingly good. It’s no AMOLED display like on my Galaxy Nexus (which I prefer to traditional LCDs), but it’s very comparable to the LCD on my original Asus Transformer. The viewing angle is great, too; I can rotate the device almost a full 180 degrees and barely notice any sort of quality drop, so I don’t have any fears that guests on either side of me will have issues viewing the display.

As for audio, the speakers packed into the Nexus 7 represent the little tablet well. I played some music from Google Play as well as quickly ran through a few games and found the audio quality (and volume) enjoyable. Would hear again.

Performance-wise, I wasn’t expecting much out of a sub-$300 device. The Quad-core Tegra 3 holds its own, of course, so I’m glad Asus and Google managed to pack it into the Nexus 7 while keeping the costs low. My Transformer is rocking the dual-core Tegra 2 and my Galaxy Nexus is riding on a dual-core OMAP chipset, so naturally the Nexus 7 runs circles around them. Games run great and video is smooth.

The Software

Mere minutes did I have my shiny new Nexus 7 in hand when I was prompted to reboot. The 4.1.1 update had arrived quickly. I pressed reboot and the upgrade process took less than a minute. I’ve had Jelly Bean on my Galaxy Nexus since I/O, so you don’t have to tell me how much smoother it is than previous Android iterations. Jelly Bean on the Nexus 7 is no different. It’s buttery smooth, as expected.

With that said, Google Now is there as expected, along with all of Jelly Bean’s other features. For the minor update that Jelly Bean is, it’s more than enough for me to hold me over for Key Lime Pie (or whatever they decide to call the next iteration).

So there you have it: my first few moments with the Nexus 7. Based on these initial impressions along with what I’ve heard from around the Interwebs, I can say that the Nexus 7 is perhaps the most refreshing 7″ tablet to date. That, in addition to the fact that it starts at only $200, makes for one of the most affordable, satisfying experiences yet — at least in the Android realm.

Keep on the lookout in the future for a more in-depth review from LockerGnome. It’s sure to come packed with everything you could possibly both love and hate in Google’s new Nexus device.

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  • ManofTechnology

    I am so jealous right now I will be getting my hands on a Nexus 7 very soon

  • Brian R

    I received mine today as well. I am impressed with the overall quality, but when I first booted it up, I’ve noticed some inconsistant touch recognition. Perhaps because it was busy setting things up? It went away when I restarted the device, but came back when I was syncing my music. Whenever it’s busy, it seems to do that. Did you notice anything of sorts on your device?

  • http://twitter.com/KarlNU Karl Newark

    I can’t wait to get one of these, I tried a 10 inch tablet and I just couldn’t get on with the form factor, having a 13 inch laptop made it a bit pointless, what I did like about it was the ability to enjoy the entertainment app’s on android without having to worry about draining the battery like I would on my phone, leaving my phone for networking and the occasional time I needed to take a photo meant my phone would make it through the day much easier.

  • d brezlin

    Just had my own private un-boxing of my Nexus 7, and with all your points I must concur. Can’t wait to run it through its paces.

    • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

      Concur? :)

      • d brezlin

        Agree ?

  • Ron Schenone

    It looks like we all had the same idea. Mine arrived late yesterday afternoon and I agree with Eddie. This device is the one to have. For $199 to $249 the Nexus 7 is a steal. Google has set the new standard of what a 7″ Android tablet should be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=591256238 David Marquez

    Looks like some of the nexus 7 are suffering from dead pixels and ighy lifted screens

  • jeth

    OK, I’d like to at least see one even if my medical insurance plan doesn’t leave me much in the way of extra money for goodies. ;-)
    I’m confused about the comment abut the back. I thought it was supposed to have a rubbery non-slip surface.
    I can understand the lack of a second camera to keep costs down, but after seeing my son’s Rolls Royce (er…iPad) I wonder how many more customers they had both a font and rear facing camera.
    Another item that I don’t understand is the lack of an HDMI port (mini or regular). iPad also lacks this but you can get an adapter that plugs into the docking port. Of course nothing else can be plugged into it when you are using the adapter.
    I would really like to see the display; it may not have as high a PPI spec, but it’s a lot closer to the iPad in that respect than all the other tablets I have checked out. I doubt if my old eyes would notice the difference between the Nexus and the iPad. ;-)

  • nuanced

    got mine yesterday afternoon and I have been having a lot of fun loading it up with apps and playing with it. So far I haven’t been able to slow it down. I feel like I have been transported into the future — it is so impressive. The voice recognition and intention interpretation is really really good. I said “google weight watchers” and it returned the correct web site as the top find, not wait watchers. Here is where I found a fly in the ointment. The web site said I needed an Adobe Flash Player update. When I went to the Google Play site to install Adobe Flash Player there was a notice that it did not support Jelly Bean. After searching I found that Adobe has announced that they will not be supporting Jelly Bean and will be getting out of supporting mobile devices altogether. I think Google has told Adobe not to let the door hit them on the way out. Apple told Adobe the same a while back. Supposedly we will all be free of the tyranny of Adobe’s buggy computer crashing software once HTML5 catches on but what do we do in the meantime?

  • Trixz_D

    Picked mine up last night and I love it to bits. Its my first ever tablet and for £199 for a 16gb its a steal, the specs would have you think it should cost more but it doesnt mine has the dreaded screen lift though and dont know if i should use the easy fix people have posted online, take it back to pc world or leave it until asus and google release fixed units

  • http://www.youtube.com/whiterazor White Razor

    I preordered this (300 AUD plus shipping for 16 GB) sort of on impulse a week or two after the IO… I don’t know, I sometimes keep thinking I should cancel the order… it’s still a tablet with a restrictive OS (it’s not as restrictive as iOS, but still restricted). It’s good I can tether the net from my telephone to avoid paying a new bill each month, but still… I think Windows 8 tablets are the only tablets that will be worth our money right now :(

    Then again at this price, it’s borderline worth it for what little I find it would do.

  • http://sybersquad.com Christopher Knopick

    I’ve been using mine for a couple of days. Love it. Having used the Kindle Fire, iPad, Nook Color, Archos 70i and others I can say that this is a pleasure to use. Nicely compliments my Galaxy Nexus (Jelly Bean everywhere). Working on getting it configured for daily use. I love the 7″ form factor for book reading with the Kindle software. I’ll have to try the Google Books software with the free book that they provided. All-in-All a great experience.