Google Nexus 7 (2013) Review

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In my quest to test FlightMap on as many devices as I can I just had to pick up the latest Nexus tablet. My previous 7 inch tablet, an early Archos 7 tablet with Android 2.3, was not a fun form factor to use. The resolution was so bad that browsing the web was painful and Android 2.3 was just not ready for tablets. Due to that experience I thought 7 inch tablets were not for me so I’ve stuck to 10 inch tablets until now. Boy was I wrong.

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The packaging of the new Nexus 7 is quite nice.There is an overlay with graphics and a nice sturdy white box within. Once you remove the top of the white box you see the tablet right away. Under the tablet is a wall charger and a mini usb cable for both charging and transferring files from a pc. The included documentation I honestly never looked at.

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The first time you turn it on you have to hold the power button down for about 5 seconds before the screen turns on. On first boot the tablet goes through a configuration wizard. Google apparently needed to patch something immediately because once you get to the connect wifi part of the wizard and connect the tablet will reboot itself to install the first update with little warning. Once it comes back up you have to start the wizard all over. Once you complete the wizard and make it into the screen you will be prompted for yet another system update. I recommend you take it before doing any of the application updates. I don’t believe any of the updates change the Android version number.

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The tablet weighs 0.64lbs (290g) and I have to say it feels heavier than that. It feels really good in the hand but really dense. I think they had to do that to make it so thin. There is no sign of creaking or anything with the build. Very nice and premium feeling.

The 7.02″ 1920×1200 screen is amazingly clear and crisp. Colors are well represented and  it responds really well to the touch. This is one of the best screens I’ve seen on a tablet yet.

The wifi and gps are working fine on mine. The range on the wifi does seem to be less than my phone or my Galaxy tab. I get fewer bars on the Nexus 7 in the same location as the others but it has not caused any issues that I’ve seen. I do wish it had a micro sd slot. I bought the 16gb version and it does fill up quickly with apps and content. I’ll have to start being more careful with space soon.

The front and rear cameras are OK at best. Not bad for Skype calls or Google hangouts but I wouldn’t use either to take important photos. It will capture that moment quite well in good lighting and passable in poorer lighting. Here’s a few example shots from the nexus 7:

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Performance wise, this tablet is amazingly fast. Android has never felt more smooth and it makes my old Galaxy Tab basically feel unusable. Definitely the smoothest Android experience I’ve had to date.

On the software side I’m not seeing much different with Android 4.3 than with Android 4.1 or 4.2. Most of the changes were under the covers so that’s not a big surprise. This is most certainly the smoothest version of Android yet but it’s hard to say if that’s because of Android or if it’s this hardware running it.

FlightMap works flawlessly on the device. I built the 7 inch version on this tablet and I’m blown away at the clarity and how well everything just works. This is a really great option if you are in the market for a 7 inch tablet that works well with FlightMap.

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I did have a couple of hardware issues however that mar an overall amazing experience. I am on my third Nexus 7. The first one I received had a bad touch screen. It would register phantom touches and double presses and it couldn’t handle long gestures.  Amazon quickly replaced it with a new one but that tablet had some dead pixels right in the center of the screen. The third one has been flawless and I’ve been extremely happy. That said it did take over a week to get one without issues. Note that I did order mine the day it was released and they were out of stock when the second one came in faulty so I had to wait for stock to come in which was not Amazon’s fault.

Amazon made the replacement process simple but it does take time. I’ve read online that both of my problems were not that uncommon. If you have the option it might be best to buy it locally and verify neither of the issues exist.

All in all I’m giving this tablet a 4 out of 5 and that is only because I had the quality issues. Once you get a good one it’s a 5 out of 5 tablet and I can’t recommend it enough. I might have just been unlucky. I know two other people that bought around the same time I did that have had no issues at all. If you’re looking for a smaller tablet that runs FlightMap perfectly then look no farther than the Nexus 7 (2013)

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