Google Nexus 7 and Jelly Bean Review

June 28, 2012
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The ASUS Nexus tablet, Google's first tablet in the Nexus family is finally here and it's called the Google Nexus 7. Surely you saw all of our coverage from earlier today. From the announcement post, or immediate hands-on coverage and more, but now we're diving in a little deeper with tons of info and our initial review impressions.

Google's new tablet is pretty impressive. Is this just a Kindle Fire fighter? Yes and no. Of course this will directly compete with the Kindle Fire (and kill it) but it also competes with all of the Android tablets currently available -- not just 7-inch models. Coming with impressive specs, the latest version of Android, and an awesome price how could it not? Below we'll show you a few more videos, plenty of screenshots, and as usual some benchmarks of that quad-core Tegra 3 processor. Stay tuned and enjoy it all below.

First off you'll want to start with our initial unboxing where we show you the Nexus 7, the new Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and a quick look at the new media device called the Nexus Q. We unbox them live on the IO floor before digging in so check it out!

Hardware
Now lets talk about hardware here. This isn't the thinnest tablet, but it's pretty close to being one of the lightest. Google and ASUS have a pretty great idea to bring a great overall package at an extremely low price. You get "almost" all the specs you'd ever want all for just $199. Here's the rundown on the Nexus 7 specs:

- 7” 1280x800 HD display (216 ppi)
- Back-lit IPS display
- Quad-core Tegra 3 processor
- 8/16 GB internal storage ($199/$249)
- 1 GB RAM
- Micro USB
- 4325 mAh (Up to 8 hours of active use)
- Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
- 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm
- 340g
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth
- 1.2MP front-facing camera
- Scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass

The hardware is great here, especially when you take into consideration everything they've packed into this slate while managing to also keep the price down. The build quality is extremely pleasing, and assures you this is a quality device. The 10mm thickness was something I wish was a little thinner, but I'll gladly live with it for the price, plus it makes holding it in your hand easier. I know this is going against anything we've previously said, but something too thin has sharp corners that aren't ergonomic. This tablet is comfy in the hand -- and I'll surely spend hours at a time using this bad boy.

The soft touch matte back is unique. It has a very soft rubbery feel, yet a plastic-like durability. Here at Google IO we were all kindly given a Nexus 7 and ours are white, the tablet on the Play Store is black and I'm still undecided on which I like best since I have both in my hands (a shame I know.) The device comes with only a 1.2 MP front camera and nothing on back -- which is fine to keep price down. We'll talk more on the front camera below but lets just say you can't use it like a regular camera. Google opted NOT to offer a micro-SD slot, which I think is by far the worst part of the tablet, and I love everything else.

The display is excellent as most IPS panels are. Screen is bright, vivid, crisp, and the viewing angles are exceptional. The touch response is severely improved and works great, but we can chalk that up for being part of the improvements made to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean -- as they worked specifically on that. The tablet has the sometimes hard to find power/wake button and volume up/down on the right, and nothing on the left. Down below is the single micro-USB port for charging, and hopefully has MHL support since we don't have HDMI-out. Then on bottom is also the 3.5 mm headphone jack and a microphone for all those voice actions and dictation.

Overall is the hardware amazing? Yes and no. It could be thinner, possibly a little lighter, and a micro-SD slot for extra storage would have been nice Google. Will I accept the slightly chunkier body and Google's cloud options and enjoy it for the $199 price -- heck yes! While we've only had about half a day to enjoy this thing, we can't truly give you our thoughts on the hardware but our initial thoughts are extremely positive, and I've seen no issues with screen problems, build quality, or anything else yet and so far everything's been rather enjoyable.

Software

This one is a biggie. We don't want to plaster you with software and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean details, and you can look for a dedicated review for that later this week. Instead we'll just show you tons and tons of screenshots of what's new with Jelly Bean, as well as a look at this quick software hands-on below.

Google has really stepped up their game with Jelly Bean. If you thought 4.0 ICS was their best yet you'd be right, but Jelly Bean is an obvious improvement. It might not be the leap many thought was coming, but is still significant. From the small, subtle yet fresh UI changes, to the overall improvement and efficiency of the performance. Everything is smoother, faster, more stable -- and just better. Google called this project butter, where they wanted the OS to be butter smooth and they've achieved just that. Animations are as swift as ever, and I'm seriously loving this tasty treat even more than the frozen Ice Cream.

Google Now is their new assistant, but we aren't sure this is all they have planned so we can't call this Project Magel. It does however track your location, learn from you and your habits or search results, and will become an assistant giving you highlights on your favorite teams game, traffic conditions while and before heading to work -- and much more. As shown in our top photo, simple slide your finger from the bottom of screen up, or hold the home button and it will appear. It's very smooth, simple and easy to activate.

The series of cards it will output show you everything you need to know and more. Obviously this will take a good WiFi or 3G/4G connection, and some time with the device to learn from you. We've just received ours so won't get too deep without further time to enjoy it.

Next we'll talk about that notification bar. Who by the way has seen a huge improvement and overhaul herself. It's capabilities and general user friendly attitude has been greatly expanded. Jelly Bean makes the notification bar on tablets closer to the phone experience, which I was expecting originally. When you get an email notification it isn't just the name and a number. You see subject line, and a few more lines, how many new emails, and other things if available -- it's much smarter. You can even shrink the larger notifications by pinching your fingers, or swipe to clear as always.

It's been centered instead of being in the bottom corner, and now pulls down from the top. You conveniently can see emails, weather with Google Now, music playing and more all without leaving what you're doing. It stays transparent so you can see what was below it on screen, and you don't even have to drag it away -- just tap anywhere on the screen and it will go back to its home up top and out of the screen. Google Now still needs some work, but we'll talk more on that later.

Widgets. Widgets are now interactive and adaptive. If you need room on a homescreen Jelly Bean makes it. It moves widgets, icons and more out of your way and lets you place a widget with ease without having to re-arrange your life. I love my homescreens just how I want them, but I'm sure many will love this feature for the convenience. Oh and speaking of widgets with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean we have tons. Google Play is all over the place. From magazines you own or recommendations, and the same thing goes for apps, music, movies and more. They are large, in your face, and look awesome. Watching Transformers (pre-loaded) on this Nexus 7 is pretty neat and I might just fall asleep to some Megan Fox in a Camero tonight.

Google's project butter UI surely shines through with Jelly Bean, and I'm a huge fan already. Ice Cream Sandwich is still the same, but has been improved in multiple areas and makes Android even better.

Benchmarks
This is an area that many enthusiasts love to see, and others don't care. We still like to stack devices up to the competition but lets just say between the quad-core Tegra 3 processor and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, this is one of the best performing and smoothest devices I've ever used. Either way here is a few benchmark results.

Now having this device for only a half a day we can't seriously have a full out review, although many will try I'm sure. Instead this is our initial review and some first impressions, as well as tons of pictures and screenshots for those who want them. Battery life was listed as 9 hours of video playback during the keynote, but the specs state 8 hours -- so we'll have to give that a thorough test later on. The front camera isn't able to snap pictures at will so once we do a few fun hangouts this week we'll take some pictures and post those up too. Yup there is no camera app or way to snap photos since it only features a front camera, which appears to be dedicated to Hangouts and video chat only.

Wrap-Up
Google has finally unveiled Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and their new tablet, and they didn't disappoint. The leaks leading up to the announcement took away some of the excitement, but overall I'm still extremely pleased and have enjoyed the device thus far. Is this the best Android tablet ever? No. Maybe. Is it available at an awesome low price of $199 and pretty amazing? Yes!

The only actual con to the Nexus 7 I see is the lack of a micro-SD slot. Everything else was just what I was expecting and more. I'm excited to enjoy this slate over the new few days and will be sure to report back with additional details. Jelly Bean brought the refinement and changes that weren't total needed, but are all completely welcome around these parts.

Google has a real winner on their hands with the Nexus 7, and it will be hard to top for a while by the rest of the manufactures. Everyone else has lower end devices with higher price tags so this is most definetaly worth a quick look, and your dollars. Today was only day 1, and we have much more coming from Google IO, the Nexus 7, Jelly Bean and more so stay tuned and hit the links below for additional coverage.

Pre order the new and amazing Google Nexus 7 today from the Play Store (here) and it should arrive sometime mid July. If you have questions drop them in the comment section below and we'll do our best to reply. Who's buying?

[device id=2841]


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  • Dan

    Can someone please confirm if it has MHL? It kind of sucks have such a fast device that can’t output 1080P to my television. Also, would be nice to use external disks via USB if it supports that as well..

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

      I didn’t bring an MHL adapter with me mang.. but I’m almost certain it does. Would be lame not to have that. Sorry we just got them tonight

      • shonangreg

        Yes, please check this. There has been no official claim that the micro-USB port is actually MHL, yet everyone thinks it would be a no-brainer for the Nexus 7 to have MHL.

        My Galaxy Note (docomo SC-05D) was sold without mentioning its micro-USB port was actually MHL. The docomo shop people in Japan even told me directly that it did not have the “MHL thing”. It actually works fine for hdmi now, though USB host functionality will have to wait for an ICS update.

        So such strange things have happened before (though why I have no idea …).

      • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

        Most phones have it lately, it’s almost the new standard so I can’t imagine it doesn’t. Sadly still haven’t figured it out

      • shonangreg

        Engadget now says they have confirmed the Nexus 7 does NOT have MHL support:
        http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/28/nexus-7-review/
        The Nexus 7 guidebook also fails to mention MHL or a dock even in the section on connecting to other devices.

        If there is no MHL, then it just seems head-slappingly stupid. However, if the Nexus 7 dock comes soon and is small and cheap and has HDMI out, then I’m still game. With no way for wired video out, I willnot get a Nexus 7.

      • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

        Many guidebooks don’t mention it so i don’t know. I tried with my Samsung MHL adapter that works on my Galaxy Nexus and it did NOT work on the Nexus 7. The MHL adapter needs to be plugged in and giving the device power at the same time to work, and doesn’t appear to offer enough power for the Nexus 7.

        Someone could release a MHL adapter with a higher power output, but it’s looking like it doesn’t have the feature sadly.

  • A. S. Bhasker Raj

    Will this tablet be available in India and when?

  • skater57

    AWOLNATION!!!!!!!!_

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

      booya!

  • Androidactus

    quick question (s): is it going to be tied to Sprint or Verizon? Is carrier plan pricing included? Is it GSM compatible (you know, with the GSM SIM cards, in Europe and Asia)?

    • http://twitter.com/neilphillips Neil Phillips

      uhm. there’s no 3G or 4G at all.

  • firethorn

    do want! hopefully they’ll make it available in EU (or rather, non-US, non-UK) markets soon.

  • Bill

    Confused, the specs in the picture indicate there is an SD card, can you place one inside the machine? Or does this have no SD card support at all?

    • James J

      Internal 8GB SD card. (non removable)

      Google opted NOT to offer a micro-SD slot…

      • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

        or 16GB version available too

  • Tudor

    i want to buy a tablet and when i heard that google nexus 7 will have such a good price i said that i must have it but now i’m disappointed because it hasn’t an SD slot or 3g.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Phillip-Martin/100000077199240 Phillip Martin

      Its $199, what did you expect

  • Benjamin LeClair

    I’m hoping it has MHL support… Also, does this tablet have haptic feedback when typing? Thanks!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Foosa-Noble/100001939436588 Foosa Noble

    MEOW!!!!!!!!!!!

  • CSDeeds

    Looks quite nice but just too small for me. I had a Fire and really liked it but found it just a touch too small. Currently using a Galaxy Tab 8.9 and it’s much better. Before the Fire I had an A500 but 10.1 seemed just too big. Honestly they need more tablets in the 8-9 inch range!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7801980 Mark LeMunyon

    Nice!

  • AlexanderBooth

    defo wondering about mhl, and does it have a sim card slot?

    • Josh

      No sim card. Only WiFi. As long as you don’t watch the young and the restless and using flash, you’ll be OK. The best android so far (not perfect).

  • Bryan

    Hi, thanks for this very helpful review…I realize this tablet is not really made for productivity, but what about using it for some really basic productivity — ie through creating and editing Google Docs, or reading PDFS or Word Docs and highlighting text…I need something portable for school but can’t really afford an IPAD. I was hoping that since this is made by Google, their Google Docs interface would work well

  • Stuart Perchard

    so if it didn’t have Jelly Bean, with no camera, no card slot, Hdmi etc It sounds as though I’d pass it by, sounds pretty crap to me, Just as well buy an epad for £70 and an unofficial upgrade from our friends at xda developers speaking metaphorically that is!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/aradhana.sharmaa Aradhana Sharma

    Nice article

  • http://www.geekchoice.com Dagmar Schneitz

    I’m really loving the $199 price for the Jelly Bean!

  • Bob Dwyer

    I cannot find Adobe Flash Player in the Google Play App catalog and I receive the following error message when I try to install it directly from the Adobe web site.

    Error message: your device is not compatible with this version

    Adobe goes on to say: FLASH PLAYER WILL NOT BE SUPPORTED ON ANY ANDROID VERSION BEYOND ANDROID 4.0.x. I interpret this to mean that Nexus 7 devices running Android 4.0.1 will not get the Adobe Flash. At this point, I am unable to play Amazon Prime videos in the Nexus Chrome Browser and I am unable to play flash content on CNBC and other sites that require Flash.

    I contacted Google Help but have not yet received a reply.

    • Steve Olson

      Flash on mobile devices is becoming a thing of the past. There are going to be some growing pains until the web catches up because there is still a LOT of flash content out there.

  • http://twitter.com/naveen_navvi Naveen Thallapalli®

    i like this device….im die hard fan of google nexus7

  • http://twitter.com/mohamedhassinb mohamedhassin

    want it.. just coz i hav nthg.. and may change my tiny life.. beide it’s really spacial not like other google devices of copy nd past, it’s something new and special… AND I WANT IT BECAUSE ILL USE IT IN EVRYTHING..!

  • http://twitter.com/mohamedhassinb mohamedhassin

    want it.. just coz i hav nthg.. and may change my tiny life.. beide it’s really spacial not like other google devices of copy nd past, it’s something new and special… AND I WANT IT BECAUSE ILL USE IT IN EVRYTHING..!

  • Alvinpck

    This tablet is what I need. Honestly

  • http://twitter.com/smiranda sandro miranda

    I’m dying to put my hands on the tablet on the market, Nexus 7!

  • Velvetpeta

    I am stuck with the 8gb