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Friday, August 31, 2012, 05:38 am PT (08:38 am ET)

Review: Google's Nexus 7 tablet with Android 4.1


A different market



Despite a current lack of dedicated Android tablet apps, the Nexus 7 is a compelling piece of hardware. While the Kindle Fire felt like its main selling point was the low $199 price point, Google's Nexus 7 goes beyond its low cost and provides relatively powerful hardware inside a well-built package. The truth is, the Nexus 7 would still be an attractive product at an even higher price point.

That said, this device is no iPad, and it doesn't even feel like it was made to compete with Apple's market dominating tablet. The narrow screen feels best suited for primarily reading books with the occasional Web browsing and app usage, which pits the Nexus 7 as more of a Kindle competitor than an iPad challenger.

While the Nexus 7 is easy to recommend for anyone looking for a tablet in the smaller 7-inch class, it would be inadvisable for anyone who can wait to buy in to this market segment now. Apple is widely expected to debut its own smaller iPad later this year with a 7.85-inch display that will be larger than the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire, but still considerably smaller than the 9.7-inch iPad.

Nexus 6


Having spent time with the Nexus 7 and felt how responsive the device is, it's easy to see how a smaller iPad would be a big seller. A powerful tablet in a compact form factor feels like a device meant for different uses than a full-sized iPad. If Apple can produce a smaller iPad that is significantly lighter than the current model, allowing for the device to be easily held with one hand, we'd welcome such a product, even without sandpaper in the box.

Rating



4 Stars


The Good


  • A bargain at $199 with $25 in free Google Play credit
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and the quad-core processor are responsive and smooth
  • Small and light enough to be held with one hand
  • The screen is good for its size, but it's no Retina display


The Bad


  • Android tablet apps are still lacking
  • Apple's rumored "iPad mini" looms on the horizon