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Google Nexus 10 Review: Is 2560x1600 High-Def Enough?

Google Nexus 10 Review: Is 2560x1600 High-Def Enough?
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Google's Nexus 10 enables a 2560x1600 resolution on a 10" display, and features a powerful Samsung SoC. Can the affordable tablet take down Apple's iPad through superior hardware and better value? We apply our benchmark suite to answer those questions.

We've had a lot of fun watching tablets evolve, starting as toys and slowly turning into devices we could actually imagine ditching our notebooks for. Interestingly, when there was only one real player in the space, Apple, we knew exactly what to do on our iPads. We'd tote them around with us as complements to the rest of our digital armada of smartphones and laptops. The tablet could keep the kids busy. It was better for Web browsing than a phone thanks to its big screen. And, for the same reason, it was great for watching video.

As the space started crowding with Android-, QNX-, webOS-, Windows RT-, and finally, Windows 8-based competition, the purpose of a tablet really started getting a lot more difficult to pin down. Today, the spectrum runs from glorified e-book reader to bona fide notebook replacement. We love having a ton of devices to choose from, without a doubt. But now more than ever, it's important to pick the right device for what you want to do, else you find yourself frustrated.

Nexus 10: Back To Basics

It was only recently that Apple deviated from its original trajectory with the iPad Mini (Apple iPad Mini Review: Our New Favorite Size, But...That Price?), shrinking its form factor in an apparent shot at Google's Nexus 7. Before that, it was making steady improvements to the iPad. The third-gen iteration introduced a 9.7" IPS screen with a resolution of 2048x1536, which works out to 264 pixels per inch. The company called its high-pixel-density display Retina.

Google's Nexus 10 returns fire with a larger 10" screen boasting an even higher 2560x1600 resolution (that's right, the same resolution we use to test high-end graphics cards on 30" panels). Its resulting pixel density (300 pixels per inch) is even higher than that of the third- and fourth-gen iPads.

Truly, the Nexus 10 is out to get Apple's incumbent tablet. It doesn't try to be the svelte little handheld at an incredible price that the Nexus 7 was. It doesn't try to be the productivity-oriented notebook alternative that the Surface attempts to pull off. Rather, the Nexus 10 gets us right back to where we started: an iPad competitor that evolves the content consumption concept by incorporating the latest internals with more screen space.

But Google doesn't just arm the Nexus 10 with better hardware. It also goes for the iPad's biggest vulnerability: its price. It costs $400 to get your foot in the door with a 16 GB Nexus 10. Meanwhile, Apple wants $500 for the same amount of memory.

If you're happy with the dimensions of a third-gen iPad, you'd be happy with the Nexus 10. Its larger screen naturally translates to more width (it's almost an inch wider, in fact), but it's also narrower and thinner, if only by a touch. Moreover, the Nexus 10 is lighter, and that's a more palpable attribute, we think.

Specifications
Length
Width
Height
Screen Size
Resolution
Aspect Ratio
Weight
Amazon Kindle Fire HD
7.6"
5.4"
0.41"
7"
1280x800
16:10
0.87 lb.
Apple iPad (3G)
9.5"7.31".37"9.7"
2048x1536
4:3
1.46 lb.
Apple iPad mini (4G)
7.9"
5.3"
0.28"
7.9"
1024x768
4:3
0.69 lb.
Google Nexus 7
7.8”4.7”0.41”7”1280x80016:100.75 lb.
Google Nexus 10
10.4"
7.0"
0.35"
10"
2560x1600
16:10
1.33 lb.
Motorola Xoom
9.8
6.6"
.5"
10.1"
1280x80016:10
1.5 lb.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
10.1"
6.9"
0.34"
10.1"
1280x80016:10
1.3 lb.


The Nexus 10 is well-built. The plastic case features a rubberized coating that resists fingerprints, and the material is thick enough that it doesn't give when you press on it. Many folks are going to prefer Apple's more industrial feel, but we've had plenty of issues with scratched-up enclosures, so that's not necessarily a universal winner, either.

We like the all-black scheme Google goes with, giving the Nexus 10 a business presence the Nexus 7 doesn't have.

There are very few physical connectors along the Nexus 10's edges. With that said, the ones Google chooses to expose are both valuable and standardized, which we certainly appreciate.

The top of the tablet hosts a volume rocker and power button. On the bottom, you'll find what Google calls its Magnetic Pogo pin charger. Although we don't have any accessories in-house that plug into it, rumor has it that a charger is coming with the ability to get the Nexus 10 back up to 100% battery capacity quicker than the micro-USB connector.

The left side of the Nexus 10 gives you the aforementioned micro-USB interface, along with a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The right side plays host to a Type D micro-HDMI connector. Unfortunately, Android still limits you to display mirroring. So, while we appreciate the ability to output to another screen, the utility of such an output is limited by the Nexus' operating environment. We're still hoping to see Google incorporate display extension support, similar to what Windows RT enables.

Nexus 10 Specifications
SoC
Samsung Exynos 5 Dual, Dual-core Cortex-A15 @ 1.7 GHz, Mali-T604 Graphics
Display
10.05" LCD, native 2560x1600 resolution
Camera
Rear: 5 MP with Flash, Front: 1.9 MP
Battery
33.75 Wh
Networking
802.11/b/g/n, 2.4 and 5 GHz bands; Bluetooth 4.0; Dual-side NFC
Memory
16 or 32 GB eMMC + 2 GB RAM
Sensors
Accelerometer, Barometer, Ambient Light, Gyroscope, GPS, and Compass
Physical Connectivity
Micro-USB, Micro-HDMI, 3.5 mm jack
Operating System
Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
Display 104 Comments.
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Top Comments
  • 34 Hide
    neon neophyte , February 5, 2013 4:10 AM
    i disagree completely about the screen analysis. it is most obvious on the picture of the blue flower. with the nexus 10 i can see all the detail in the pedals, the ipad is over saturated and has lost its detail.
  • 33 Hide
    bit_user , February 5, 2013 4:08 AM
    Why does the Color Temperature graph say "Higher is Better"? That's just wrong. The standard for accurate video reproduction is 6500 Kelvin.

    Values higher than that will result in the image having a blue bias. Values lower than that will result is the image appearing reddish. Of course, this also depends on the ambient light, which will influence how the image is perceived. But 6.5k Kelvin was supposedly chosen to match natural daylight.
  • 29 Hide
    killerclick , February 5, 2013 4:17 AM
    There was an article a while ago that showcased Tom's Hardware writers and various devices they use. Almost all of them had an iPad or a Macbook or both.

    Just sayin'...

    Link is http://www.tomshardware.com/picturestory/605-toms-hardware-editors.html
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    joytech22 , February 5, 2013 3:36 AM
    The Nexus 10 is one of the most powerful Android devices available, but why?

    A T604 can be configured up to what - 8 cores? The Nexus 10 has ONE and it performs just under a PVR 543MP4

    The CPU is absolutely monstrous, as is RAM Bandwidth, resolution etc..

    I often think to myself - Why aren't other manufacturers sticking specs like these into their own systems? Stick a T604MP4 in there and you've got performance numbers (mind you, numbers likely not real-world) close to 2.5x that of the fastest iPad in every single way (except battery.. Lol).

    As for CPU, Stick a 1.7GHz S4 Pro in there with 2GB of RAM and combine it with the same screen.
    The company that does that has my next purchase guaranteed.
  • -7 Hide
    killabanks , February 5, 2013 3:41 AM
    as much as i love this tablet it needs a beefier gpu to handle that res just look what apple crammed in the ipad 4th gen
  • 33 Hide
    bit_user , February 5, 2013 4:08 AM
    Why does the Color Temperature graph say "Higher is Better"? That's just wrong. The standard for accurate video reproduction is 6500 Kelvin.

    Values higher than that will result in the image having a blue bias. Values lower than that will result is the image appearing reddish. Of course, this also depends on the ambient light, which will influence how the image is perceived. But 6.5k Kelvin was supposedly chosen to match natural daylight.
  • 34 Hide
    neon neophyte , February 5, 2013 4:10 AM
    i disagree completely about the screen analysis. it is most obvious on the picture of the blue flower. with the nexus 10 i can see all the detail in the pedals, the ipad is over saturated and has lost its detail.
  • 29 Hide
    killerclick , February 5, 2013 4:17 AM
    There was an article a while ago that showcased Tom's Hardware writers and various devices they use. Almost all of them had an iPad or a Macbook or both.

    Just sayin'...

    Link is http://www.tomshardware.com/picturestory/605-toms-hardware-editors.html
  • 15 Hide
    bit_user , February 5, 2013 4:22 AM
    neon neophytei disagree completely about the screen analysis. it is most obvious on the picture of the blue flower. with the nexus 10 i can see all the detail in the pedals, the ipad is over saturated and has lost its detail.
    Well, as they didn't say what camera they used or how it was configured, you have to assume they didn't disable AWB and that they used autofocus (which can have unpredictable results, when photographing a screen). Even if they avoided those two pitfalls, we don't know anything about the camera's spectral response function. Alone, that would be enough to disqualify any such comparison. Add to that the effects of your display device (I'll bet it's never been calibrated), and you should see that you really can't trust how these images show the respective screens.

    They also used images that are so vivid and almost artificial that it's sometimes hard to tell which display is reproducing the images more faithfully.
  • 25 Hide
    neon neophyte , February 5, 2013 4:24 AM
    eh, they said in the article that we could see the difference in the pictures. then they went on to say those pictures reflected that the ipad was better.

    i disagree completely.
  • 14 Hide
    bit_user , February 5, 2013 4:51 AM
    neon neophyteeh, they said in the article that we could see the difference in the pictures. then they went on to say those pictures reflected that the ipad was better.i disagree completely.
    I'm not disagreeing with you. I'm just pointing out that their methodology seems badly flawed.

    If they want to learn how to write better video reviews, Tom's could do worse than to check out David Katzmaier's reviews, on CNet.
  • 16 Hide
    senshu , February 5, 2013 4:56 AM
    neon neophyteeh, they said in the article that we could see the difference in the pictures. then they went on to say those pictures reflected that the ipad was better.i disagree completely.

    You're nowhere close to alone on this.
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , February 5, 2013 5:02 AM
    And if compared with Ipad 4 gen CPU & GPU? :) 
  • 3 Hide
    Marcus52 , February 5, 2013 5:17 AM
    I don't think the pictures we are seeing in this review reflect clearly on either screen.

    That being said, I do see what both sides are talking about. The yellows are clearly better on the iPad, but it does appear to have some over-saturation (btw over-saturation means the colors bleed into each other, not that they are brighter or more vivid than natural) that you can see in a couple of flower photos. My question would be though - is what I'm seeing color bleed or a poorly set contrast/brightness, or related to the cameras?

    The pictures of the barn look better on the iPad to me. The pictures of the adjacent butterfly look better on the iPad in detail and color. The Nexus - well, I don't know what those butterflies look like in real life, but the yellow flowers are atrociously colored. They are practically orange. Same with the yellow flowers on down the page, though they are the worst in the butterfly picture.

    Blues seem to be the other way around in some of these pictures, but not in terms of color, in terms of detail. I'm thinking the blues may actually be over-saturated in the true sense of the word, but I have to wonder about the other contributions to the picture unrelated to screen quality - were they adjusted right? What about the camera? What about the reproduction process that puts them in the article?

    Is my screen going to see these images differently than someone else's?

    I don't think we as readers can really tell what's going on here. I will say one thing, yellow color on screens is one of my "pet peeves" so I know which screen I like better, and that's the iPad. I'm sick of orang-ish yellows, I tell you! Sick of them! :D 
  • -4 Hide
    JJ1217 , February 5, 2013 5:25 AM
    Damn, didn't read the article (didn't have time), but 2560 x 1600 on a 10 inch screen will have a huge PPI.
  • 20 Hide
    RealityClash , February 5, 2013 5:30 AM
    I really don't understand what they have against this tablet?
    Decent battery life, powerful processor, $100 cheaper than an iPad, great display (colour difference between this and the iPad would be unnoticeable in most cases unless they were be readily compared next to each other). Are you guys at Tom's all just Apple fanboys or something?
  • 10 Hide
    Anonymous , February 5, 2013 5:58 AM
    i don't know about you, but i'm not sure where the difference and superiority of the iPad screen over the Nexus one is painfully obvious in their samples

    if anything, the bleeding and saturation (i hate to call that "rich and vivid") of the colors and lost details in that last picture of the ipad screen is rather harsh
  • 6 Hide
    pacomac , February 5, 2013 6:01 AM
    Why was the 4th generation iPad not included in these tests since its light years ahead of the iPad 3rd generation. We all know that the Nexus 10 beats out other tablets on Geekbench due to CPU performance but struggles to run the display with its under par GPU. OpenGL benchmarks are a true indication of speed not Geekbench when it comes to extreme resolutions.
  • 8 Hide
    acku , February 5, 2013 6:28 AM
    Quote:
    Well, as they didn't say what camera they used or how it was configured, you have to assume they didn't disable AWB and that they used autofocus (which can have unpredictable results, when photographing a screen). Even if they avoided those two pitfalls, we don't know anything about the camera's spectral response function. Alone, that would be enough to disqualify any such comparison. Add to that the effects of your display device (I'll bet it's never been calibrated), and you should see that you really can't trust how these images show the respective screens.

    They also used images that are so vivid and almost artificial that it's sometimes hard to tell which display is reproducing the images more faithfully.


    We actually did disable autofocus and awb, all this was noted in our ipad mini review. All pictures were taken at a fixed f/stop and iso setting at the same distance. Second, you can't really calibrate tablet screens. This means we are testing out of box gamut performance.

    As for not being able to see the difference, Cambridge Color has some great information on color chemistry if you're not too familar.

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/color-space-conversion.htm
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/soft-proofing.htm
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/sRGB-AdobeRGB1998.htm

    A camera's spectral response, (we're talking point-and-shoot, slrs, dslrs circa 2007) and later all have a gamut response larger than that of monitors, even high performance gamut monitors. On the low end of the hierarchy, printers have a smaller gamut response.

    This means the inablity to see a difference is tied directly to the monitor you own. If you own a TN-based display, you're very likely going to see less of a difference in these pictures than someone rocking a wide-gamut IPS. That's simply the way the tech is. That's why professional photographs are so picky about the monitors they use. The compression of the picture's gamut clips out highlights, midtones, and shadows on a lower-end LCD.

    The difference is definitely there. Your ability to see them is going to be dictated by your hardware.
  • 9 Hide
    acku , February 5, 2013 6:37 AM
    Quote:
    There was an article a while ago that showcased Tom's Hardware writers and various devices they use. Almost all of them had an iPad or a Macbook or both.

    Just sayin'...

    Link is http://www.tomshardware.com/picturestory/605-toms-hardware-editors.html


    I'm camera shy and wasn't featured in that article. Second, those that owned an Apple product generally were my overseas colleagues and news team. Nothing wrong with that, just say'in. :) 

    Finally, I don't know why there's this perception that we're being harsh on Google. To the contrary, we gave the Nexus 7 an Editor's Choice award. It was the first time we that award to a tablet - ANY tablet. We've seen tons of tablets, but that was the first one that really impressed us.

    Simply put, the Nexus 10" is not the 10" equivalent to the Nexus 7. The latter was simply amazing. It was powerful. It was light. It had a beautiful display. Better yet it was cheap. In the past, anything at the $200 price point had some sort of shortcoming. Not so with the Nexus 7. That's what made it a game changer. Considering that the Nexus 7 came out first, we expected the larger 10" brother to deliver similar performance, right? I don't think that's an unreasonable expectation. I'm not sayin that it's a terrible tablet, but it's clearly not as "game changing" "wow that's awesome" as the Nexus 7 was.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    Tom's Hardware

  • 4 Hide
    acku , February 5, 2013 6:40 AM
    Quote:
    Why does the Color Temperature graph say "Higher is Better"? That's just wrong. The standard for accurate video reproduction is 6500 Kelvin.

    Values higher than that will result in the image having a blue bias. Values lower than that will result is the image appearing reddish. Of course, this also depends on the ambient light, which will influence how the image is perceived. But 6.5k Kelvin was supposedly chosen to match natural daylight.


    This was a typo that occurred during the transition to our new charting system.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ativ-smart-pc-500t-windows-8-atom,3360-10.html

    We have to sort the values simply for ease of reading. When we created the new chart format, the legend was incorrectly labeled. Fix'ed.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    Tom's Hardware
  • -4 Hide
    sanilmahambre , February 5, 2013 6:48 AM
    Got three words for you fella

    Bigger!

    Slimmer!

    Better!
  • 7 Hide
    PreferLinux , February 5, 2013 6:54 AM
    ackuWe actually did disable autofocus and awb, all this was noted in our ipad mini review. All pictures were taken at a fixed f/stop and iso setting at the same distance. Second, you can't really calibrate tablet screens. This means we are testing out of box gamut performance. As for not being able to see the difference, Cambridge Color has some great information on color chemistry if you're not too familar.http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/t [...] ersion.htmhttp://www.cambridgeincolour.com/t [...] oofing.htmhttp://www.cambridgeincolour.com/t [...] GB1998.htmA camera's spectral response, (we're talking point-and-shoot, slrs, dslrs circa 2007) and later all have a gamut response larger than that of monitors, even high performance gamut monitors. On the low end of the hierarchy, printers have a smaller gamut response. This means the inablity to see a difference is tied directly to the monitor you own. If you own a TN-based display, you're very likely going to see less of a difference in these pictures than someone rocking a wide-gamut IPS. That's simply the way the tech is. That's why professional photographs are so picky about the monitors they use. The compression of the picture's gamut clips out highlights, midtones, and shadows on a lower-end LCD. The difference is definitely there. Your ability to see them is going to be dictated by your hardware.

    What I would like to see is the pictures that were displayed on the tablets also in the article so you can see the picture on your own screen for comparison purposes. Because simply comparing the two doesn't say much – what we should be looking for is how it compares to the real thing, not how they compare to each other. How they compare to each other is irrelevant. What is actually wanted is how the comparison to the real compares with each other.
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