Will Google's Nexus 7 Put Out Amazon's Fire?
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.
We really need manufacturer black list for bad upgraders!
It'll be great if we can increase UI smoothness without significant cost of battery, I'll upgrade to JB in a heart beat. But I value battery life > "smoothness".
I thought they're giving out Galaxy Nexus preinstalled with JB at Google IO, can't someone run the battery life against the "old" Galaxy Nexus on ICS.
That's a good point. Seriously, the battery life problem in mobile electronics needs some real attention here in the next couple years. Smoothness on phones and tablets doesn't need too many more improvements for quite some time, it's the battery life people!
Now I just hope I'm not left hanging for a JB update on my Nexus S, like with ICS.
Because promising an update and only delivering for 1/3 of the models, and leaving the other two hanging for another 5 months with no feedback was definitely a great experience
I installed the JB ROM on my VZW Nexus, and I'm not noticing much of a difference so far (it was pretty terrible on 4.0.4). We'll have to wait for conclusive tests to determine the real draw on battery.
Some things will inherently draw more battery - Google Now is great, but to get the maximum utility the GPS needs to be left on so it can recommend Places literally right next to you.
The experience overall is significantly smoother than ICS was, so I'm looking forward to the actual release and the tweaks in the incremental updates.
In regards to the Nexus 7 - this is an amazing tablet. It does more than the Fire does, and the only thing it can't do is Amazon Instant Streaming (which in reality is basically Netflix's library). I owned a Fire and though it was a huge letdown from day 1; ended up with the Nook Tablet and felt the device and OS were much better crafted, just lacking in content.