Much like its predecessor, the 2nd generation of Google's Nexus 7 offers unprecedented performance at a price low enough to attract budget-minded consumers. While it may still cater to the same niche, it's important to note that this version of the Nexus is an entirely new breed of Android tablet. In fact, Asus really took into consideration much of the criticism aimed at the original version, and the result is an innovative device that truly serves as the gold standard for everything an entry-level tablet should be.
Hardware and Design
Last year, the original Nexus 7 received widespread praise for its capabilities, but many found its design to be less than desirable. This feedback was taken to heart as its new incarnation sports a sleek, lightweight body. In fact, its stylishness is comparable to that of many high-end devices.
Featuring a 1.5 GHz quad-core Krait 300 processor, 2 GB of RAM and 15 GB of storage capacity, the Nexus 7 is once again built for maximum performance. The screen is made of scratch-resistant glass and soft touch plastic, giving the tablet a luxurious feel while also ensuring its durability. Equipped with a 1920x1200 IPS LCD panel, the device's high resolution and pixel density makes watching movies, surfing the web and playing games all quite visually stunning.
Tablets have become notorious for cheap cameras and mediocre speakers, but the Nexus 7 isn’t your average tablet. The dual speakers, for instance, are far superior to those found on the majority of this tablet’s counterparts. With that said, earbuds are suggested for those that like to listen to bass-heavy music. As far as camera quality is concerned, the 1.2 megapixel front and 5-megapixel rear cameras do just the trick for the average, casual user.
Software and User Experience
Although it currently lacks Key Lime Pie, Android 4.3 software makes a beautiful transition to tablet form. The OS is optimized for a 7” device, granting all the bells and whistles found on high-end Android smartphones. The screen is very responsive to touch, and even while switching back and forth between resource intensive applications, you'll find yourself rarely encountering any noticeable lag.
The 2nd generation of the Nexus 7 also does a fantastic job of adjusting to all lighting conditions, which is refreshing as entry-level tablets are infamous for the poor functionality of their auto-brightness features. When combined with the Nexus 7's reflection reduction technology, it's possible to have an enjoyable reading experience regardless of your environment.
Obviously, The Nexus 7 comes with access to the Google Play market, making available a wide variety of third party applications. Games, in particular, perform great thanks to the innovative Qualcom Snap Dragon chipset. For example, a high-end game like Rip Tide 2 can be played at the maximum graphic setting without so much as a hint of interference or framerate slowdown. Wi-Fi also functions flawlessly, and at over 11 hours of solid non-stop use, the device's battery life far exceeds that of any Android tablet at a comparable size.
Without question, Google and Asus have raised the bar with this generation of the Nexus 7. They have managed to take all the best qualities of the original, address the complaints, and add enough game-changers to make a price tag under $200 almost seem too good to be true. While there is plenty of competition, they don't come close to matching the Nexus 7’s power and affordability. For this reason, it receives a well-deserved 5 star rating.