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Google Nexus 7: A Work Tablet?

Google's first Android tablet, with its fast quad-core processor, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system, compact size, and hi-res screen, offers the best bang for the buck of any tablet available today. It's the snappiest, most comfortable-feeling tablet I've tested.

I recently wrote about how to turn a Kindle Fire into a "real" Android tablet and using Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 for work-related tasks. So how does Google's first Android tablet, the Asus-manufactured Nexus 7, compare to these other 7-inch tablets as a work slate? I decided to find out.

Three views of the Google Nexus 7
(click images to enlarge)

In BYTE's first look at the Nexus 7, Todd Ogasawara called it the best Android tablet that he'd used so far. This review dives more deeply into the tablet's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean user interface and functionality, and covers some useful apps for system customization and management, productivity, and more.

Three 7-Inch Choices: Nexus 7, Kindle Fire, Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

It's easy to see from the photo below that the Nexus 7 and the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, its closest competitor, are much svelter than the Kindle Fire.

Top to bottom: Nexus 7, Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, Kindle Fire

But how do the tablets stack up otherwise? The table below compares the key specs of all three 7-inch tablets. Later in this review we'll zero in on the Nexus 7 vs. the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, arguably the best two 7-inch tablets available today.

The specs alone tell us two things: the Kindle Fire is due for a hardware and software refresh; and the Nexus 7 and Galaxy 2 7.0 are fairly evenly matched, each with its pluses and minuses (more on that later).

Specs smack-down: Nexus 7 vs Galaxy Tab 2 vs. Kindle Fire

Google/Asus Nexus 7 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) Amazon Kindle Fire
Processor 1-GHz quad-core
1-GHz dual-core
1-GHz dual-core
Internal flash 8GB or 16GB 8GB 8GB
MicroSD flash expansion No Yes (up to 32GB) No
OS Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) Android 2.3 (customized)
App store Google Apps Marketplace Google Apps Marketplace Amazon
Screen (pixels) 1280 X 800 1024 x 600 1024 x 600
Camera 1.2MP front 0.3MP front
3MP rear
Audio input Mic, line-in Mic, line-in
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n; Wi-Fi-Direct 802.11 b/g/n/x
Bluetooth Yes Yes No
GPS Yes Yes No
Battery 4325 mAh 4000 mAh 4400 mAh
Hours battery life (continuous Netflix, full brightness) ~ 5 ~ 4 ~ 3
Size (inches) 7.8 x 4.7 x 0.4 7.6 x 4.8 x 0.4 7.5 x 4.7 x 0.5
Weight (ounces) 12.0 12.214.6
Price $199 (8GB)
$249 (16GB)
$249 (8GB) $199 (8GB)

Quick tour: Nexus 7

When it's first turned on, the Nexus 7 guides you through a few simple configuration steps, after which you'll arrive at the tablet's two default home screens (shown below).

The Nexus 7 default home screens.
(click images to enlarge)

Tapping the widget in the middle of the dock at the bottom edge of either home screen switches the display to the all-apps and all-widgets view. The far left screenshot below shows icons for each of the 28 apps that were preinstalled on my Nexus 7. The other two screenshots show 12 of the tablet's 26 preinstalled widgets.

The Nexus 7 comes with 28 preinstalled apps and 26 preinstalled widgets.
(click images to enlarge)

At this point, you can customize the home screens; add and remove app icons and widgets; create folders containing multiple app icons; and modify the home screen and lock screen backgrounds if you like. The first thing I always do is literally sweep the slate clean, by wiping away all the default app icons and widgets from the home screens. I then install my favorite home screen wallpaper and sideload a dozen-or-so system management apps.

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