• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Hands on ... Google Nexus 7

From £159.

Positives: a great tablet that delivers on size and affordability.

Negatives: occasional software bugs are irritating.

The first supplies of the much-anticipated Nexus 7 tablet by Google reached customers last week. Unlike previous third-party tablets based on Google's Android operating system, this one comes straight from the search giant.

Manufactured by ASUS to Google's specifications, the Nexus 7 is a smart-looking, lightweight tablet running the latest version of Android known as Jelly Bean. With a screen measuring seven inches and a sub-£200 price-tag the Nexus 7 isn't a direct competitor for the iPad. Rather, it goes head to head with Amazon's Kindle Fire, the colour version of the e-reader which has been selling well in the US but which has yet to go on sale here.

While Amazon's tablet was launched with break-even pricing, it now enjoys a healthy profit margin thanks to the falling cost of its components. Although identically priced, by coming later to the party Google's Nexus 7 sports better tech specs – it's 20% lighter, has a faster processor, twice the memory and a sharper screen. The other notable difference is that the Nexus has a front-facing camera, making it suitable for Skype video calls.

The other big-brand competitor in the 7in segment is the BlackBerry PlayBook. Originally priced at £399, the PlayBook failed to sell in significant quantities, forcing manufacturer RIM to slash prices. Now available at £169, the PlayBook is still an outside bet – it's the only device running PlayBook OS and, more than a year after launch, still enjoys little third-party developer support. The risk remains that it could go the way of Betamax.

Amazon's trump card has always been the Kindle e-book store, but this is now available as an app on the Google tablet, making the choice a pretty clear one: if you're in the market for a small tablet the Google Nexus 7 is the only sensible choice.

The Nexus 7 is a pleasure to use – everything is fast and fluid, while the simple interface is a joy. The experience is marred only slightly by occasional glitches which Google should hopefully fix in a future software update.

Judged against the iPad, the case for the Google Nexus 7 is less clear. The Nexus is half the price but its screen is also less than half the size. For some that portability will be a boon, but others will find a paperback book-sized screen is too small for writing documents or web browsing.

Perhaps more importantly, the quality and performance of third-party apps on the Nexus 7 is more of a mixed bag than on the Apple equivalent.

In short, if you want a Kindle that can do more than just read books, buy the Nexus 7. If you want a tablet that can replace your laptop, go for the iPad. You don't need to consider any of the 100 or so other tablets on the market – these two cover all eventualities.

Contextual targeting label: 
Consumer electronics

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.