Google Nexus 7 review – hands on

We've got a freshly-baked Google Nexus 7 tablet in our hands, and we've put it through its paces. Read on for our first impressions of the first Jelly Bean tablet

Google Nexus 7 – overview

It might have been the worst kept secret in the tech world, but Google has finally launched its own Asus-made Nexus tablet, the Google Nexus 7, and while it's certainly no iPad killer, it's a slate that may well find a solid niche for itself.

Google Nexus 7 – size

The key to the Google Nexus 7 is its size. With a BlackBerry PlayBook and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0-matching 7in screen, the Google Nexus 7 is far smaller than the new iPad 3 and is just about compact enough to enter jacket pocket territory.

Google Nexus 7 – design, build and connectivity

Its rubberised back (white on our unit) makes holding the Google Nexus 7 tablet easy with one hand – perfect for reading on an elbow-ridden crowded tube carriage. There's also a pretty powerful and relatively good quality speaker on the bottom rear of the Nexus 7, which hopefully won't ever get used on your daily commute.

Google Nexus 7 review – hands on - Google Nexus 7 – design, build and connectivity 2

An SD card slot is sadly absent, which is a big omission in our eyes given the paltry 8GB and 16GB storage options available, while the lack of 3G will limit surfing to tethering or Wi-Fi only.

More after the break...

Google Nexus 7 – screen

The Google Nexus 7's screen is good, particularly when watching HD video, although colours do appear a little washed out, especially on menus. The screen is obviously nowhere near as impressive as the Retina Display on the new Pad 3, but getting an HD screen at this price certainly won't raise any complaints from us.

Google Nexus 7 – power

Google's own apps, unsurprisingly, look great, and have been polished in the new version of Android on the Nexus 7, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Apps run very smoothly and quickly, thanks to a combination of Google's Project Butter and the powerful Nvidia Tegra 3 silicon resting in the Nexus 7's innards.

Google Nexus 7 – apps

Entering the Jelly Bean's Google Play Store now results in a prompt for your credit card details as part of the setup process, and once that's sorted, the Google Nexus 7's biggest problem becomes apparent – a lack of apps. There simply aren't enough optimised for the tablet.

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In Jelly Bean's final release, a new feature called Google Now will be able to work out where you are and, for example, show you the next arriving bus if it detects you're at bus stop. Scores in major sports fixtures will also be supported, and Google will work out which team you support from your search history. All of these features will however be very limited by the Nexus 7's Wi-Fi-only capability, so you'd better hope your mobile data allowance is generous enough for tethering on the go.

Google Nexus 7 – first impressions

View the Google Nexus 7 as an iPad competitor, and it might seem lacking. But view it as an easily portable media device and it begins to make a little more sense, as long as you're prepared to shuffle around videos a little more regularly due to the glaring emission of that SD card slot, and don't mind tethering your smartphone for out-and-about surfing.

Google Nexus 7 review – hands on - Google Nexus 7 – first impressions 2

Offering an HD screen, a Tegra 3 processor and the latest version of Android Jelly Bean straight out of the box for only £160, the Google Nexus 7 offers explosive levels of bang for your buck. Watch out Amazon Kindle Fire, there's a new tablet in town...

UPDATE – OUR FULL GOOGLE NEXUS 7 REVIEW IS HERE

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