2013 Nexus 7 Review

BQNK5AYCEAAM_vEThis weekend I got a tip that my local Best Buy was selling the new Nexus 7s early, so I jumped in my car and bought one of the 16GB ones. Strangely, they didn’t have a display out or even a sign for the tablet but after speaking to a salesman, he told me that he could sell me one but wasn’t allowed to put the display out yet. I agreed to purchase one and within a few minutes was driving home, excited to unpackage my new device. I’m not going to bother with a description of my unboxing as it was nothing special and frankly those feel a bit fetish-like to me.

The Good: The new Nexus comes with the latest version of Android installed and has Google Play Games, Google’s Game Center competitor, preinstalled. It is impossible to stress how thin and light the Nexus is — I am really impressed by this. The biggest advantage this tablet has over competitors however is speed. It is a performance monster; if you want specs, please take a look at the product page. In short, this is probably the best Android tablet for gaming that is currently on the market and will probably remain so for at least six months — a virtual eon in the Android world.

The Bad: Other than the weight and thinness of the device, there is little to love in the hardware design of the device; it feels like the sort of design that you’d get from an engineer driven company and frankly it doesn’t hold up to Apple’s devices in terms of visual aesthetics. Despite the new Nexus being a performance monster, there don’t seem to be too many apps on the Play Store that really take advantage of that; time will probably solve this problem but for a launch experience it is disappointing. Still, none of that is particularly terrible. However, the device required two (that’s right two!) system updated before I was able to use it. It’s 2013 and I understand, though I am not pleased, that most devices will need a day one patch but to require two patches on day one is ridiculous.

The Ugly: I’ve already dinged Google for the hardware design of the Nexus 7 but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the absurd top and bottom bevels of the device — they’re too big and it makes the device look awkward Additionally, as strange as this might sound, the device feels aggressively masculine; it is stark black and comes installed with a metallic blue default background. I’m not sure why marketers feel that Android devices need this weird manly feel (take a look at any Verizon “Droid” ad for an example of what I mean) but I assume this device is meant to appeal to more than just twenty something males, so a more neutral approach might be the way to go.

Conclusion: The Nexus 7 update is about what I’d expect from a hardware device from Google — a lot of power with design as little more than an afterthought. To be fair, it isn’t much worse in terms of user experience than the previous Nexus 7, but since HTC has released the One the bar for hardware design on Android devices has been raised  (at least in my eyes) and Google needs to get with the program.