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Google unveiled its Nexus 7 tablet and Android 4.1 update. We did deeper and take a more technical look. But that's not all. We go over some new additions on Google+, and share a quick demo of an impressive HTML5-based game (hold the laughter, please).
There were two gadgets announced at Google I/O 2012: Nexus Q and Nexus 7. We covered both announcements yesterday, and we'll dig deeper into the hardware once we get back down to Southern California. In the meantime, though, we wanted to share some of our thoughts on the 7.
As Google's first branded tablet, the Nexus 7 is an impressive device. We've always considered tablets complements to the digital experience; they don't really replace anything, though. To that end, the 10" tablets cycling in and out of our lab seem to come across as neat gadgets. But a piece of hardware with a 7" screen is a lot smaller, and thus more manageable.
Manufactured by Asus, the Nexus 7 is much more portable than many of the company's own branded products. Google is clearly going after customers tempted by the Kindle Fire (not an altogether bad piece of hardware; read The Amazon Kindle Fire: Benchmarked, Tested, And Reviewed). With both priced at $200, Google has this one in the bag. To recap, the Fire is chunkier, uses a version of Android that prevents you from accessing Google Play (previously Android Marketplace), lacks a camera, and employs a lower-end OMAP 4430 SoC.
In contrast, the Nexus 7 is slimmer and only weighs 340 grams (Kindle Fire is ~415 g). It actually feels a lot more like our E Ink-based Kindle Keyboard (third-gen) than the Fire. There are no app installation restrictions, and it runs Android 4.1, rather than Amazon's more tightly controlled Android 2.3-based ecosystem.
The Nexus 7 also includes a decent front-facing camera/mic, which will let you Skype to your heart's content. This was a feature lacking from the Fire. Performance should also prove to be impressive, since the Nexus 7 employs a version of Nvidia's Tegra 3,.
|GLBenchmark 2.1.4||Transformer Pad (TF300T)||Transformer Prime (TF201)||Nexus 7|
|SoC||Tegra 3 (T30L)||Tegra 3 (T30)||Tegra 3 (?)|
|Android||4.0 (ICS)||4.0 (ICS)||4.1 (Jelly Bean)|
|Egypt Standard||5752 frames (51 FPS)||5720 frames (51 FPS)||5968 frames (53 FPS)|
|Egypt Fixed||62.768 s (45 FPS)||65.250 s (45 FPS)||59.279 s (48 FPS)|
|Egypt Offscreen (720p)||7178 frames (64 FPS)||7122 frames (63 FPS)||7073 frames (63 FPS)|
|Pro Standard||2796 frames (56 FPS)||2744 frames (55 FPS)||2830 frames (57 FPS)|
|Pro Fixed||22.982 s (54 FPS)||23.599 s (53 FPS)||22.515 s (56 FPS)|
|Pro Offscreen (720p)||4006 frames (80 FPS)||3827 frames (76 FPS)||4095 frames (82 FPS)|
According to Google, Jelly Bean makes this tablet faster than Asus' Transformer Prime. While the Nexus 7 doesn't have a clear lead, you can see in the scores above that GLBenchmark seems to support that claim to some degree
Amazon didn't set out to make the Fire a fast, sexy chat-enabled tablet, though. It's a content purchasing and delivery mechanism. Google clearly has nice hardware, but without the same retail presence, its Google Play store might not realize the same level of success.