Google's first Android tablet is here, and the Nexus 7 is hard to beat if you're looking for a budget 7 inch tablet that doesn't skimp on important features. The 8 gig model is $199 and the 16 gig model is $249, and that gets you a sharp 1280 x 800 7 inch IPS display and a fast quad core 1.2GHz Tegra 3 CPU with GeForce graphics. It's good looking too, with curved sides, a rubbery back and a clean design.
Though Google prices the Asus-made Nexus 7 to compete with the Amazon Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, they're really going after buyers who were going to "settle" for an eReader focused tablet to suit their budgets even though they wanted a general purpose tablet. If you want a convenient way to consume all of Amazon's services, this isn't it. But if you want a tablet that requires no hacking to access the Google Play Store and the full suite of Google Android apps, this is it.
Since this is a Nexus, you get the latest and greatest OS, Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. In fact, you'll be the first to get new OS updates since there's no middleman between your device and Google as there is with manufacturer-branded products and carrier controlled smartphones and tablets. Jelly Bean is indeed quick thanks to Project Butter, and the UI improvements are good stuff.
Since the price is so low, you don't get everything you'd find is a more expensive tablet. While there's single band WiFi, Bluetooth and a GPS, there's no rear camera, no haptic feedback and no Gorilla Glass. In fact, there's no HDMI port and the micro USB port doesn't work with MHL adapters. If you want USB host for mass storage devices like flash drives and USB hard drives, you'll have to root the Nexus 7 and install a mass storage utility. Of course, this is a Nexus, and it's made for those of you who love to root and tinker with your Android devices.
While there's been some discussion of quality issues like poorly attached displays, our 8 gig model purchased from the Google Play Store has no hardware issues. The display looks fantastic and it's properly attached.
Here's our Google Nexus 7 video review. Our full written review will follow in the coming days.