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Taking Google’s Nexus 7 Jelly Bean tablet out for a spin

by Larry Magid

June 28 2012

My first impressions after using the Nexus 7 tablet for a few hours are positive. The device is 2.6 ounces lighter than the Amazon Kindle Fire, but it feels lighter still — probably because of its sleeker rounded design highlighted by a rubberized back. 

The 1280 by 800 HD screen looks great when reading and when watching a video, but I wasn’t able to immediately compare it to the Retina screen on the newest iPad. The audio, which comes from a speaker on the right side of the unit (holding it horizontally) was more than adequate for a 7-inch tablet.

So far, I've used the Nexus 7 to watch part of a Madmen episode on Netflix and to listen to music stored in my Google locker. I also sent and read email and did a bit of web surfing.

Peppy hardware, new features in Jelly Bean

The Nexus 7 is powered by a quad-core Tegra 3 processor and seems plenty responsive. It also has a 1.2-megapixel camera and 1GB of RAM. One cool feature of the new “Jelly Bean” version of Android that the tablet runs on is the ability to download a Google map for a geographic area (such as a city) to the device and use the built-in GPS to navigate even if you have no data connection — which is a good thing considering that the Nexus 7 supports WiFi and Bluetooth, but doesn’t have a cellular modem option.

On the entertainment side the Nexus 7, like its competitors, and offer access to a wide range of TV shows, movies, music and books. The Nexus 7 could be used for business purposes for checking email and web surfing, but the iPad’s bigger screen and huge library of software via the App Store make it far more attractive, albeit at twice the cost (iPad 2) or even more for the newest iPad. 

Still, the portability of the Nexus 7 might appeal to many as a lighter weight alternative to the iPad and even other Android 10-inch tablets. Personally, I find myself using my Kindle Fire more often than my iPad because of the portability, and I’m sure that will be even more true with the Nexus 7.

As with Amazon, Google is selling more than hardware — it’s selling content that people buy at its Google Play store including books, music and video. 

I agree with TabTimes Executive Editor David Needle, who told me in a radio interview that “Like Kindle Fire, the Nexus 7 is a good deal for a 7-inch tablet. Google isn’t making money on the hardware, they want to sell the services.” 

(a version of this article originally appeared in Forbes).

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