The Nexus 7 changed that with its leading hardware, clean software and extremely competitive price (the 8GB version cost just $199). Since then, Android tablets — and their prices — have gotten even better, although there are still plenty of flops. Can Google still lead?
With the second-generation Nexus 7, the answer is a resounding yes.
The new Nexus 7 is a better tablet in many ways than its predecessor, and it still carries a great price
To look at just one aspect, the screen of the new Nexus 7 is an extremely sharp full HD display with 1,920 x 1,200 resolution. The iPad mini, which costs $100 more, has a 1,024 x 768 screen. That's even before you consider the 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor and 2GB of RAM, good specs for any tablet.
On top of that, the new Nexus 7 is the first device to run Android 4.3, letting owners take advantage of features like restricted profiles, which lets you limit the apps that specific users can access (handy if you have kids) as well as compatibility with low-power Bluetooth Smart Ready devices such as fitness monitors and smart watches.
Designed for Success
The first Nexus 7 was notable for its excellent design and the new model is even better... mostly. Although its specs are improved (and is still rated at 9 hours of battery life), the 2013 Nexus 7 is slightly thinner and lighter than the previous one. It's actually just a bit taller and less wide, and the corners are less rounded, giving the tablet a somewhat classier feel.
Google also changed the backside from the perforated "driver glove" material of the first Nexus 7 to something a little more like the matte "soft touch" on BlackBerry phones. The shift is actually more of a downgrade since the original material was a little more grippy, but it still feels a tier up from, say, Samsung's plastic backs.
The ports amount to a microUSB port on the bottom and a headphone jack up top. There's no microSD slot, but there are perforations for stereo speakers on the sides as well as a microphone hole. Google lent us the Wi-Fi version for review, so there's no SIM card slot (an LTE version is coming soon).
Like some other Nexus devices, there's a small round light within the lower bezel that lights up for a second or two when you get a notification or the tablet is charging. The way it lights up is actually way cool — quickly growing from a small white dot to a slightly larger circle, giving the feeling of a pulse. It's also almost impossible to see if its dim, adding to the chic factor.