Nexus 7: Review Roundup

With the introduction of the Nexus 7, Google has a potential hit on its hands. Priced competitively with the Kindle Fire — both cost $199 — but with the features of a more complete tablet, the Nexus 7 is primed to eat up the lower end of the market.

All of that potential, of course, depends on how well the device actually works.

Those thinking about the tablet should be heartened by the first round of reviews, which are replete with puns about putting out, snuffing or otherwise extinguishing the Kindle Fire.

In short, reviewers say that the Nexus is the next big consumption tablet and eclipses Amazon’s 7-inch tablet in terms of its hardware and its app — if not its multimedia — diversity.

The Associated Press’s Peter Svensson said that Google is clearly going after the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet, which he terms “rough Androids” in reference both to Blade Runner and to the fact that the tablets both run their own flavors of Google’s operating system.

“It’s succeeded,” he said. “As far as I can tell from my few days of use so far, the Nexus 7 is a really good value.”

Engadget reviewer Tim Stevens said that the price is the tablet’s “biggest talking point” though he said it does not ever feel cheap.

“Okay, so there’s more polycarbonate than panache here, but the design of the Nexus 7 feels reasonably high-end, starting with that rubberized back,” he said. Even with the low price, he said, Google didn’t skimp on providing a good display — not quite “retina” level, but at a level Stevens calls “perfectly adequate.”

The audio quality out of the tablet isn’t that impressive, he said, adding that ratcheting up the volume on the device will have you “reaching for your earbuds.”

Svensson highlighted Google’s decision to add a camera to the tablet, as well as microphone — something that Amazon’s Kindle Fire lacks. CNET reviewer Eric Franklin pointed out that Google didn’t include a camera app with the tablet, saying that video chats can be done through Google+’s hangouts feature.

Where the Nexus 7 does fall down, reviewers said, is in ports and storage. The tablet has neither expandable storage nor an HDMI port and only has 8GB and 16 GB models.

There was also a nearly universal feeling that to really compete in the 7-inch tablet game, Google will have to build out its media store. GigaOm reviewer Kevin Tofel said that it will be tough for Google to run up against Amazon and, to a lesser extent, Barnes & Noble in the 7-inch tablet game without a larger offering.

The appeal of the Nexus 7, to Google, is how easy it will be for consumers to buy apps, books, music and movies. But to get people to really build up their libraries on Google Play as opposed to on a services such as Amazon Prime or iTunes, the company will have to keep adding more and more.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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