With this being our first review of a mobile tablet, I realized that the usual HiTech Legion introduction that works for our desktop reviews may not work for the mobile end. Most people I associate with that are seriously into mobile seem to like things short and sweet with very little introduction and just the facts. Although this may seem like a formal HiTech Legion introduction it's not. If the grand consensus of our readers demands our signature introductions for mobile products, we will be more than happy to oblige. This review will dive right into product.
The Nexus family by Google includes 3 different varieties, the Nexus 4 built by LG, the Nexus 7 built by ASUS and the Nexus 10 built by Samsung. Our focus will be the Google Nexus 7, which is built by ASUS and contains the NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad Core (ARM Cortex A9) processor. The Nexus 7 is preinstalled with the latest Android operating system (4.2 Jellybean) and has either 16 or 32GB of onboard storage. The 16GB version rivals the Kindle Fire HD 7" for price, but the Kindle only offers Dual Core performance.
Google Nexus 7 Specifications
AndEBench: The AndEBench™ benchmark provides a standardized, industry-accepted method of evaluating Android platform performance. The AndEBench™ produces two scores: AndEMark™ Native performance and AndeMark™ Java performance. The scores are represented as iterations/sec, and the higher the score, the better.
CF-Bench: CF-Bench is (mainly) a CPU and memory benchmark tool specifically designed to be able to handle multi-core devices, produce a fairly stable score, and test both native as well managed code performance. It tests specific device properties you do not regularly see tested by other benchmarks, and runs in a set timeframe.
AnTuTu Benchmark: AnTuTu Benchmark can run a full test of the Android platform. Tests offered through this application; "Memory Performance", "CPU Integer Performance", "CPU Floating point Performance", "2D 3D Graphics Performance", "SD card reading/writing speed", "Database IO". Scores can be uploaded and compared with other mobile devices.
Smartbench 2012: Smartbench 2012 is a multi-core friendly benchmark application that measures the overall performance of your smartphone. It reports both Productivity and Gaming Index to suit both productivity users and 3D gaming users.
Quadrant: Quadrant is a benchmark for mobile devices, capable of measuring CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performance. Within the program there are eight CPU tests, one memory test, four I/O tests, one 2D graphic test, and three 3D graphic tests. Like other programs, a total score is given, which can be compared to other mobile devices.
GLBench: GLBenchmark 2.5.1 is a graphics performance benchmark tool that measures different graphic and computation capabilities of your mobile device. The majority of the tests focus on graphic resources, measuring the quality and performance of the underlying OpenGL ES 2.x implementation. The benchmark, among other features, contains high-level 3D animations (the new Egypt HD and Egypt Classic from GLBenchmark 2.1) and low-level graphic measurements. GLBenchmark Egypt HD is the upgraded version of the old Egypt 2.1 test: it is more complex, uses more and higher resolution textures and is optimized for 1080p.
(Browsermark, Sunspider, Google V8 (Version 7))
If you're not familiar with NVIDIA, NVIDIA is a prominent manufacturer of graphics processors (GPU), both for desktop and laptop/notebook computing. You can find NVIDIA discrete graphics across many platforms, which include graphics for gaming and even for high performance computing. NVIDIA has used their experience with discrete graphics and includes it in their Tegra 3 processors. The Tegra 3 processor houses a 12 core NVIDIA GeForce GPU, which is capable of delivering a console class gaming experience right on your tablet.
With all this experience, NVIDIA has not only created an application (Tegra Zone) to play and find premium Android OS games, but they have developed an SDK to help developers create Tegra optimized games. By allowing developers the option to use the NVIDIA SDK to take advantage of the power the Tegra GPU can render, their games contain more dynamic textures, as well as enhanced physics, shaders, particles, lighting and visually realistic effects, such as water, cloth and environment. At the Tegra Zone, you can find Tegra Optimized games that are either free or for purchase. There are multiple titles and genres to choose from and they are all under one roof. Tegra Zone can be downloaded in Google Play. Screen shots below are taken from Dark Kingdom, first a non Tegra enhanced version and then the Tegra Enhanced version. The visual differences are easily seen and are much more realistic. If you are interested in mobile gaming, don't leave yourself short with a non NVIDIA Tegra tablet. 3D gaming is all about realism and this is where NVIDIA, Tegra Zone and Tegra enhanced games blow away the competition.
Advertised Battery Life
Advertisements are pretty impressive but you can only believe what you see until you take it home and try it for yourself. The NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad Core (4 plus 1) Processor with vSMP (Variable Symmetric Processing) is manufactured to minimize stand by power consumption and, when demand increases, immediately deliver maximum quad core performance, while being intuitive enough to manage the entire workload across the four main cores. The Plus 1 is actually a fifth core called the battery saver core. In addition to these battery saving features, NVIDIA also includes Prism. NVIDIA Prism analyzes each frame image and automatically adjusts backlight intensity, without compromising the image, to reduce display power consumption.
We tested the battery life a few different ways and our results are as follows:
HD Video Playback (50% display):
The Google Nexus 7 built by ASUS with the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor performed very close to its advertised battery life specifications. While doing our battery testing, we noticed something about the Nexus 7 that needs to be addressed. The Nexus 7 has a brilliant screen, which produces one of the most amazing images we have seen to date. (Compared to other tablets or phones we have on hand) At 50% display brightness, the Nexus is just as bright as our Lepan II at 80% and the Transformer Prime at 65%. Local file HD playback actually produced better results than advertised but we wanted to see how well a non-controlled environment affected the Nexus 7 battery life. Using Wi-Fi, which can increase battery usage, we were only able to use the tablet for a little over 4.5 hours.
Price: $199.00 USD (16GB) and $249.00 USD (32GB)
No Compensation was received for review of this product.
The Google Nexus 7 comes out of the box with quite a few applications pre-installed. Applications for those of you who may choose to use it as an e-Reader: My Library, Google Play Books and Google Play Magazine. For your entertainment there is Google Play Movies & TV and Google Play Music. Other stand outs are its accessibility options, which, when set, allow those with low vision or blind users to hear what they are hovering over, called Talkback. Since the Nexus 7 is Android 4.2 (Jellybean), you can also take advantage of the Google Now features.
In the end, it's all about the user experience and our experience out of the box was a good one. Initial charge up time was just under 3 hours and from there all that needed to be set up and updated was a Google account and a couple application updates. Our web browsing experience was right on par with what we would expect from a well-made tablet with a strong network adapter. Web pages loaded with minimal effort and even those that we found to lag a little on other tablets or phones seemed to load a little faster. There was one small disappointment with Google Play books and that was the inability to make the text larger by expanding the screen, we found that some e-Books had smaller print than others. Other than that, everything was very clear, crisp and legible. At first we had our doubts about watching an HD movie on a 7" screen but after the first two or three minutes the experience was pleasurable, as the Nexus 7's screen is brilliant. Ours actually had the Full Version of Transformers (Dark Side of the Moon) pre-installed. The Nexus 7 has a 1.2MP forward facing camera. We are not going to bore you with pictures, they are OK. Video conferencing worked just fine, but if they wanted you to take pictures they would have added a rear facing camera. Of course, there are a lot of things you can do with Bluetooth. Being a tablet, we uploaded a playlist of songs from a computer and then streamed the playlist to the Bluetooth connection of a Hyundai Genesis. During the one hour trip, there was no connection loss and the music streamed just fine.
There are two things different about the Nexus 7 compared to the other two Nexus products. It's built by ASUS, a leading manufacturer in quality mobile and desktop products, and the fact that the Google Nexus 7 has a Quad Core Tegra 3 Processor. (To read more about the NVIDIA Tegra 3 Processor Click Here) At HiTech Legion we are tried and true PC gamers, which means we like eye candy and detail in our games. Prior to gaming on a tablet or phone that did not have a Tegra processor, the gaming experience was just (for a lack of better words) BLAH. If you are a hard core gamer, like we are, and just can't get enough and need to fulfill your gaming needs on a mobile device, make sure that device has an NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor. Tegra enhanced games will provide that immersive experience you get from a console or PC on a mobile device. There is no other tablet or phone that we could find that could make this claim.