The best 7in tablet on the market returns with upgrades galore, making it the ultimate travel companion.
Google’s first Nexus 7 blew open the budget tablet market by showing affordable slates could be great, and now it’s released an updated edition that’s raised the bar further. Targeted primarily at a consumer audience - and likely no match for the desktop/laptop - we explore its potential as a companion device for the on-the-move business user.
Dazzling 7in display
The undoubted star of the show is the screen. The 7in IPS panel provides the sharpest display that’s available on any tablet. The 1,920 x 1,200 resolution pack 323 pixels-per-inch, which easily outstrips the 163ppi iPad Mini and even the 264ppi iPad 4. It's also an improvement on its predecessor, the Nexus 7 which had pixel count of 216ppi.
This makes it practically impossible to spot pixels, and the world-beating sharpness makes an impact across the whole device: text is clear, pictures/photography look crisp and games are sharper than on any other tablet. The high resolution only works against the Nexus 7 when web browsing – it’s here where low-resolution images stand out.
The high contrast and colour accuracy together with the stunning clarity makes this great for reading e-books and multimedia consumption.
The numbers back this up. We measured a retina searing brightness level of 540cd/m2, which bests the iPad Mini’s 389cd/m2, and the black level of 0.51cd/m2 is good. Combine those measurements and you get a contrast ratio of 1,058:1 – better than the iPad’s 720:1 result. It’s the best set of results we’ve seen from a tablet, and it means colours are vivid throughout, from distinguishable deep shades of black to delicate white tones.
Colour accuracy is great throughout, the IPS technology underneath means viewing angles are excellent, and it’s made from hard-wearing Gorilla Glass – so it should be able to withstand a drop. It’s one of the best screens available on any tablet or smartphone at any price.
Pocket friendly companion
The screen is the most dramatic change in this year’s Nexus 7, but the Asus-made device is also sleeker than the original. The weight has dropped from 340g to 290g, and it’s 2mm thinner and 6mm narrower than the original 10.5mm, 120mm frame.
For the travelling worker, the Nexus 7 shapes up to be the ultimate companion. The pocket friendly dimensions and weight means you can slip it into a jacket comfortably and pull it out at a meeting to review notes, showcase videos or browse the web.
Asus has stepped up the design too. The silver band around the edge has been axed, and instead the tablet is entirely clad in black plastic, with a discreet Nexus logo across the back panel. The soft-touch material is comfortable, and the build quality concerns that plagued the first Nexus 7 have disappeared – there’s not a hint of creak or flex around this thin, light tablet’s frame.
There’s a micro-USB port at the bottom and a headphone jack at the top but, sadly, Google has omitted a microSD card slot – so there’s no chance to add your own storage. The power button and volume rocker are both situated at the top of the right-hand edge, and we’ve two minor complaints: they’re close to each other, and they’re flush with the tablet’s body.
OS: Android 4.3
Processor: 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
GPU: Adreno 320
Memory: 2GB RAM
Screen: 7in 1,920 x 1,200 IPS
Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
Other: Micro-USB slot, 3.5mm headphone jack
Camera: 5mp, 1080p 30fps video
Size: 114 x 200 x 8.7mm