One could argue that the Nexus 7 is Google's best shot at getting into the hardware market. The Galaxy Nexus is a great phone, but smartphones are numerous with quality aplenty. The tablet market, while plentiful, does not have the same dedication to quality. The Nexus 7 aims to shoot for the top alongside the iPad and Kindle Fire. Does it succeed? Let's find out.
We recently got the Nexus 7 in at the office. Those who ordered them when it was announced should be getting yours soon as well. The first thing you're going to notice is that the packaging is super slick. The tablet itself is encased in a sturdy box that's in a high-quality print sleeve.
We were also fortunate enough to get an awesome travel cover for the Nexus 7, but more on that later:
Once you open the box to reveal your treasure, you'll see the Nexus 7 is nestled snugly at the top of the box. The plastic covering is kind enough to indicate which button is power and which one is for the volume if you couldn't figure that out yourself:
The back of the tablet is covered in a tough rubber that feels much better than it looks. It provides a certain grip that I find lacking in many other tablets. It's a great design decision and one that should emulated by the competition.
The Nexus 7 does come with a few accessories. In a little box that you lift out of a compartment behind the tablet is the USB cable and the wall charger for the Nexus 7. It's a little unfortunate that the tablet didn't come with any extra goodies like earbuds, but the quality of the included accessories more than make up for it.
The first time boot up is amazingly fast for an Android device, which I'm going to credit to Jelly Bean. Upon starting up, the tablet will scan for Wi-Fi access points and connect to the one of your choosing. After that, you'll sign in with your Google account and you're ready to go. The Nexus 7 comes pre-loaded with some Google Play goodies and you'll be greeted by them on the home screen.
One thing of interest is the Google button, as I have come to describe it. While your main apps are collected across the bottom of the screen, there's a button on the far left that expands to show all the Google apps (YouTube, Earth, Chrome) in one convenient location.
Speaking of Chrome, it's wonderful on the Nexus 7. It's super fast and displays Web pages in crystal clarity. Upon launching the app, it will ask you to sync Chrome with whatever devices you have Chrome installed on. You'll not only be able to access bookmarks across devices, but you can even continue your browsing experience on the tablet from where you left off on a desktop.
You saw that we got a travel case for the Nexus 7, but how is it? It's made of the same rubber that the back of the tablet is made of so it feels great. If you're going to be using the tablet as an e-book reader, the extra grip will be truly appreciated. When closed, the tablet looks like it could take a bullet in its hard rubber shell. (Note: WebProNews does not condone, or even suggest, that you ever shoot a tablet. You will destroy it and you will void your warranty).
Finally, we tested out a few of the fun things that Jelly Bean brings to Android, specifically Voice Search. When Google showed off Voice Search at Google I/O, it looked like a Siri competitor. Having played with it for about 10 minutes now, it is and it isn't. What I mean is that the core concept behind Google Voice Search is somewhat different. Siri is integrated deeply into the iPhone experience and takes advantage of the hardware just as much as it does the software. Google Voice Search is just a natural extension of Search that's made more fun by the software reading back results to you.
All in all, the Nexus 7 is a mighty fine 7-inch tablet. It feels better than the Kindle Fire in pretty much every single way. Jelly Bean is awesome, but its reliance on Google Play is irksome. If Google can get Play up to speed, I can see it being a serious contender.
As of now, it's not an iPad killer and it's only a Kindle Fire killer if you care more about hardware than software. That's not the point, however, as this is Google's chance to make a splash in the hardware market. After playing around with the Nexus 7 for about an hour, I can see it making a pretty big splash under the right circumstances.