We knew it was coming—and soon. We just didn’t know exactly when, and which tablet manufacturer would make the first move. But the advent of the under-$250 quad-core, Tegra 3-based tablet was inevitable, and now, with the debut of Asus’ Google Nexus 7, it’s here. After only about six months since the powerful and power-efficient Nvidia Tegra 3 made its first appearance (in the $499.99 Transformer Prime TF201), that slate’s maker, Asus, teamed up with Google to once again break new ground. Not only is the Nexus 7 a groundbreaking quad-core slate on price, but it’s also the first to run the latest version of Android (4.1, a.k.a. “Jelly Beanâ”).
Now wait a minute, you’re probably saying: Aren’t there already a few $200 or close-to-$200 tablets—notably, Amazon’s $199.99 Kindle Fire and Samsung’s $249.99 Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0)—available already? Well, yes, but the Kindle Fire is basically an e-reader with somewhat limited capabilities, and both of these models, as well as several other low-cost slates, run on somewhat outdated dual-core processors. Dual-core slates are not as fast as or as capable as tablets built around quad-core processors, nor do they provide anywhere near the same battery longevity. Overall, tablets running on quad-core CPUs are all-around better devices today, and they’ll remain viable for a longer time, too.
We should stop here a second time and note that Asus also offers a $199.99 version of the Nexus 7, too, making it, technically, the first under-$200 quad-core slate—never mind $250. However, the $199 version comes with only 8GB of onboard storage and, unfortunately, it doesn’t have a memory-card slot for expanding the storage capacity. With so little storage, after you subtract the bits taken up by the operating system and preinstalled apps, you wind up with just over 5GB of storage space—far too little for most users. The 16GB version we review here makes much more sense.
And that brings us back to the $249 Google Nexus 7. As you’d expect, manufacturing so inexpensive a slate entails making compromises, and, even though this model is light, attractive, well-built, and comfortable to use, it does demand its share of trade-offs. First, like the 8GB model, the 16GB Google Nexus 7 lacks storage expansion, which we cover in more detail on the next page. In addition, this slate has no HDMI-out port, making it more cumbersome to connect to HDTVs and other monitors. (We discuss this limitation, too, in the Design section.)
These shortcomings aside, the Google Nexus 7 is an impressive little tablet. Its 1,200×800-resolution screen—high for a 7-inch slate—displays text, images, and videos superbly. It turned in exceptional scores on our suite of benchmark tests, besting every other 7-inch tablet we’ve tested to date, as well as several full-size 10.1-inch models. The Google Nexus 7, like other impressive Asus models we saw earlier this year (such as the $399.99 10.1-inch Transformer Pad TF300 and the higher-end $499.99 Transformer Prime TF201), is a superb performer and an overall exceptional value.
Read full review in Computer Shopper.