Friday, August 31, 2012, 05:38 am PT (08:38 am ET)
Review: Google's Nexus 7 tablet with Android 4.1
Single-handed use of the device is aided by a rubberized textured back that feels good in the hand. The Nexus 7 is thicker than a third-generation iPad, and can be grasped on one side or squeezed from both ends in portrait mode by a user with adequately sized hands.
Unlike with Apple's heavier, larger iPad, which needs the larger bezel in order to be held without touching the display, the smaller Nexus 7 can get away with a thinner bezel on the sides and still be comfortably held without inadvertently touching the screen. The bezel on the top and bottom of the device is noticeably larger than on the sides when in portrait mode, despite the lack of dedicated hardware buttons below the screen like Apple has on its iOS devices.
Comparing the iPad and Nexus 7 head to head, the greatest advantage Google's tablet has is its weight. Apple's new iPad with Retina display weighs in at 1.44 pounds, while the Nexus 7 is 0.75 pounds, making it even lighter than the 0.9-pound Kindle Fire.
The Nexus 7 also offers the kind of battery life iPad users have come to expect. Like with Apple's tablet, we found we can go several days without needing to recharge the Nexus 7, even with regular daily use.
The display packs in 216 pixels per inch, which is not as high resolution as the new iPad with Retina display, but still makes for a pleasant reading experience.
Other hardware features of the Nexus 7 include a rear speaker, a headphone jack on the bottom, a Micro-USB charging and syncing port on the bottom, and two microphones. The device lacks a rear-facing camera, which may bug some users, but didn't strike us as much of an issue.
It's also worth noting that the Nexus 7 has physical volume buttons on the side, next to the screen lock button. Ordinarily this wouldn't be much of an inclusion, but the lack of hardware volume buttons on the Kindle Fire was an inexplicable omission from Amazon's touchscreen tablet.
The Nexus 7 also has a slightly exposed magnetic spot on its side that will allow for use of a magnetic screen cover, much like Apple has offered since the iPad 2. Inside, the Nexus 7 also has an NFC chip that allows the device to be used with Google Wallet compatible pay stations.
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