*** This review is for a 32GB, WiFi only tablet.
I just picked one of these little guys at my local BB presale because I'm impatient and had to try one. Yes, I actually have one and I'm not BS'ing.
Being an IT professional, I've used a variety of Android and Apple devices, probably dozens at this point. I'm well versed in Apple, Android and Microsoft world, and have a MCSE/MCSA and half a dozen other MS/IT certs, so I know what I'm talking about.
I suspect it will take a month or two before I'm fully versed in the eccentricities of this tablet, but here is my 3 hours of use review:
Upon receiving the box, I was pleasantly surprised by how small and minimal it is. Very similar to Apple packaging, which is best in the business in my opinion. Upon turning it on and signing into my Google account, I was immediately greeted by several updates. 0-day updates to be expected from a major release and are appreciated.
As usual, my Google account wanted to sync all my previous Play Store apps onto the device which I immediately stopped. No stupid Verizon apps for you! One of my primary reason for getting this tablet was for gaming. I'm disappointed by the horridly slow memory on my old Kindle Fire, and I hate the uphill battle that comes with trying to Jailbreak and install emulators on Apple tablets. I nearly bought a Nexus 7 Gen1 until I heard it had slow storage as well. Once I heard that Nexus 7 Gen2 had greatly improved storage speeds, as well as better specs down the board, I was sold. I won't bore you with all the specs, as you can read those in the Amazon description above. However, I must point out one particularly great spec that this tablet has, and many covet: a 1080p screen on a 7" tablet. There are no current 7" tablets on the market that match that PPI, but I'm sure Apple's iPad mini 2 will match or come close to it. (when it comes out)
I have no gear to officially test the dynamic contrast and black levels of the screen, but CNET (Normally Apple biased) gave a very impressive 570/0.44 cd/m2 for it's max brightness/black level, putting it at 1,295:1 contrast ratio, beating the socks off the iPad Mini's 814:1, and the old Nexus 7 at 1,028:1. I notice this most in black and white movies like Casablanca, (my usual test) but color also pops much better too. The color levels are more accurate across the board than the greenish tint of the first N7, and give Apple a run for the money.
If gaming is your target, it's interesting to find that the Nexus 7 Gen2 meets or exceeds the iPad Gen4. GFXBench tests put the N7g2 consistently in line with the iPad, no small feat for a sub-$300 device. I confirmed this performance by playing a number of games and finding that I couldn't slow this little guy down; Galaxy on Fire's new android release, Project Y, and a host of old standbys. It runs an Adreno 320, the same as the mighty HTC One, so if an HTC One plays it well, the Nexus 7 will too. It also typically beats a Nexus 10 in all tests, so if your choice between these two tablets is speed, the N7 is the obvious winner.
When I got the tablet it was at 50% battery life. It took about 2 hours before it was at 100%. I'm guessing it will take 3-4 hours with the shipped charger to bring it from 0 to 100.
The improvements in Android 4.3 are not going to be apparent for a while, as the main improvements are OpenGL ES 3.0 and app security permissions. However, it also includes battery improvements which seem to stretch an additional hour of video watching despite it's slightly smaller battery. It's also a little thinner than the 1st gen Nexus 7, by around 1.8mm. Usually thin tablets annoy me and are awkward to hold, but the Nexus 7 has comfortable rounded sides and a soft rubber back. The front is a fingerprint magnet of course.
Value and software:
Last but not least, the Nexus 7 is only $230 for a 16GB model, or $270 for 32GB. Compare this to an iPad mini at $330 for a 16GB model, or a 32GB at $430. The original Nexus 7 seems to be going for under $200 now, so if all you need is a nice internet browser and like to dabble in everything else, the Nexus 7 Gen 1 is actually a great deal.
A last positive comes in the form of the Apple/Android philosophy. This baby comes ready to be loaded up with any ROM you chose, as do all of the Nexus series. There aren't any real releases yet, but I expect there to be some great ones over the next few months. Apple does it's best to prevent Jailbreaking. If you don't know the benefits of either, and consider yourself a tinkerer, then you may want to brush up on them.
The other part of this Android/Apple philosophical difference takes the place of Apple censorship. I HATE IT. Apple tries it's best to keep it's store locked down with American prude censorship. Google doesn't. Apple also nixes nearly any emulator apps they can. This means no DOSBox, SNES, NES, Genesis and Playstation emulators for you if you're stuck on an Apple device. That sucks a big one. One of the big reasons I will not pick up an IOS device.
Now for negatives:
1.) The obvious being that the Google Play Store gets some games later than the Apple App Store. Nearly all the "good" games are available on both within months, but the tendency is for Apple to get the initial release followed closely. by Play Store. However, the total number of Apps in either store is now shifted into Google's favor, as it now has over 1,000,00 apps compared to Apple's 900,000+, with the lead growing each month. So let the stupid, "My tablet has more apps" argument die, as it doesn't matter anymore.
2.) The widescreen format and shape can be awkward for some, but I got used to it quickly.
3.) There is no SD card slot. We already expected this as the previous didn't have one, but I really wish it had one so I could load it up with music and movies. Heck, I've got a 64GB microSD card in my phone. Why can't a much larger tablet have one too?
Other than that, I am struggling to find a negative with this tablet. Once again, I think I'll give it a few weeks before I can fully flesh out this review. Until then, I'm gonna enjoy messing with this little guy.
Edit: 48 hours later...
Now that I've had the tablet for a couple days and kicked it around a bit more, I'm still holding firm on my previous statements. I've loaded up Jet Set Radio, Dolphin, Labtech Control Center and a number of other apps to see how well it handles a variety of content. I must say, I'm not having any issues. I loaded up 3DMark so I could see for myself how well it handles a heavy load on it's GPU, and it breezed through even on Extreme, achieving a score of around 6300. The first Nexus is only able to pull off around 1900, making the new model over 3 times faster.
The battery life has been good, as it seems to still have 25-50% charge after a day of moderate to heavy use.
One detail I didn't realize before, but now find apparent is that while the speakers sound good for built in tiny tablet speakers, the volume levels are capped to achieve this. Before the speakers begin to distort bass, the top volume levels out. I kind of wish it could go little further so I could use it for a portable radio while I'm cleaning, but I suppose headphones will fix that. It fits in a pants pocket like a big mp3 player, something I can't pull off with an iPad mini. The iPad mini is 5.3 inches wide, while the Nexus 7 is about 4.7 inches. The widescreen just barely makes it into a back or side pocket without being too tight.
Another detail I've heard from at least one reviewer is that of dead pixels. I HIGHLY recommend running the free app, "Dead Pixel Test" as soon as you can. I discovered only two dead pixels on my tablet, both in the top. One is incredibly hard to see except at an angle, and only then in complete black. The other is slightly more visible, but only at an angle again. Dead pixels are to be expected on an high density display, so be extra diligent to identify whether or not your display has a serious problem with dead or stuck pixels. Mine are minor, but a few significant reports have surfaced.
After around 2 weeks of use, I'm very happy with the tablet. It has done well with battery life throughout a day or two of moderate use and occasional gaming. I'm waiting on an ultra-slim case from Moko, but would like to see that "Premium Official Case" come out so I can decide if it's worth it. Word on the street is the official travel case is not worth the $20 they are asking.
I've now had the tablet for almost 2 months and I'm 100% sold on it. It's fast, reliable and just about the perfect size for taking anywhere. I take it to customer sites to use WiFi-Analyzer, take notes, check email, Remote Desktop into PCs/Servers, change configs on network equipment and many other things. My Kindle Fire is now converted into a semi-dedicated iTunes remote because I'm so spoiled by the responsiveness of my Nexus 7.
Also, I rooted it about a week or so ago and put a lean version of 4.3 on it. It's even faster now! I also love the Moko ultra-slim case I put on it. It doesn't add bulk, the magnetic clamps seem to be holding up, and it looks nice.
I'm a very satisfied fan of this tablet.