Android Devices

Google Nexus 7 Tablet hands-on and first impressions

June 27, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka

Tablets

nexus-7-tablet

Google didn’t catch anyone by surprise when it announced the Nexus 7 earlier today, the first tablet designed to run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. But despite expecting the company to release a Nexus tablet for quite some time, I didn’t expect to be so surprised upon first touch. This is not at all what I anticipated, though that’s not really a bad thing.

In my mind, the Nexus 7 was just going to be a rebranded version of the ASUS Memo tablet that was dangled at CES and then disappeared for 6 months. However, this tablet looks and feels different. There’s no industrial design, just a black slab of screen with a really big bevel and a white background. There’s no pen input, just a software upgrade that makes voice dictation very easy, very accurate, and very offline if necessary. My mind is still too focused on what I expected to fully appreciate what exists. Still, I recongize that this might be a special product in its own right.

The Nexus 7 is the culmination of Google’s rebranding of the Android Market to become the Play Store. While the Motorola Xoom, the first “Nexus tablet” if you think about it, was all about having OMG specs and a robotic quality, the Nexus 7 is about content. The primary function of this device is to serve as a boost point for the movies, magazines, TV shows, books, and music that Google sells, not to be a spec beast that crushes everything in its class. But hey, if you’re into that sort of thing, the Nexus 7 does have a great Tegra 3 quad-core processor with 12 core GPU for stellar gaming and the latest software – and upon first impression, it does beat it’s most famous rival, the Amazon Kindle Fire.

The compact size and entire pitch for the Nexus 7. The thin and light build make this very portable and even pocketable if you are a large fellow like myself. I could easily see myself sliding this in a backpack and dashing to the airport Friday afternoon, or in the purse of a fellow BART train passenger on the way. Once either of us take out the device, we’ll have plenty of content to consume, and that’s what it’s all about – powerful enough to watch, read, and play, but average enough to not require a hefty price. If that’s the segment Google’s aiming for, my gut tells me they’re close to the mark.

I’ll need to spend some more time on the Nexus 7 to know how much I’ll be pleased or disappointed by the product, but first impressions and realistic expectations make me believe I’ll lean towards the former. Here are a few pictures of the device. I’ll be back with a video tomorrow.

UPDATE: Read the full Google Nexus 7 review here.