[Rumor] Google to launch new Nexus 7 tablet

If you’ve read my review of the Nexus 7, you’ll know I surely love it and think it likely the best Android tablet on the market.  It’s been a very good seller for Asus (the maker) and Google as well…and it looks like its about to get a refresh.  The latest rumor from DigiTimes is that Asus is partnering with Google again to give us an updated Nexus 7, with perhaps an HD panel display, smaller side bezels, and an “upgraded version of Google’s Jelly Bean operating system” – whatever that means.

Plunkett called this in one of his Fearless Predictions…it will be interesting to see if it comes true.  I’m sure we will know by May, in time for Google’s I/O event.  Carry on Google and Asus!

*Source:  Droid-Life


[Review] 32GB Nexus 7 tablet

The Nexus 7 isn’t new to the market, nor is it the most technically advanced Android tablet out there…but what it is, is one fine device for the money.

Way back in September, I made a decision to purchase a tablet for my own use around the house.  I have a burning desire to surf the web, check my fantasy basketball team, post on the Facebook, and blog all from the comfort of my couch.  Sure I could do this on my netbook, and I bought it with that in mind, but the idea of using a tablet for these endeavors seems darn near perfect.

The 16GB version now costs a mere $199, the 32GB w/WiFi only is $249 (plus applicable tax) and on November 13th, 2012 the 32GB version with HSPA+ will launch for $299.  I decided to pull the trigger once the 32GB WiFi only version arrived in a local retail store.  Since I had a few gift cards laying about, I picked it up last Wednesday night for exactly $41.36…and even as a fan of Android, I can easily say I’m impressed with this device.

How It Looks:

Front of the Nexus 7

All the descriptions of the Nexus 7 are spot on, and still really don’t do it justice.  The front of the device without buttons of any kind is a sweet look, reminiscent of my Galaxy Nexus.  The soft touch dimpled rubber back with its minimalist “Nexus” and “Asus” logos is understated but cool.  The bezel is the right width to add to the look but not overpower it.  The position of the power button and volume rocker is a little too far down on the side for my taste, but isn’t annoying by any stretch.  I do find myself pushing the volume rocker instead of the power button from time to time, but with a little practice I’m sure I’ll get this sorted out.  I’m sure I’ll want a screen protector and a case at some point, but for now, this thing just looks so nice I probably want to keep it the way it is.

Back of the Nexus 7

Its only got the front facing camera, located in the dead center of the top of the bezel.  This works for me, as using it for Skype calls is probably the only reason I’d need a camera in this thing to begin with.  I’m not the type to be out taking pictures with a tablet…and honestly, I laugh at the people who do.  There’s the micro USB connection and headphone jack on the bottom right and that’s it.  The screen is beautiful, and as clear and sharp as one could hope for.  Due to the size of the all glass screen, it does tend to pick up fingerprints quickly.  A good screen protector will fix that, or do like I do and keep a nice eyeglass cloth handy to wipe down the front from time to time and you’re set.

Left side
Right Side
Right Side (angled)

How It Feels:

The size of the device is perfect for one handed holding (in portrait) and in landscape its definitely a two handed hold but its not in any way uncomfortable.  Having my fingers on the rubber back gives an impression of grippyness, and in either orientation you don’t ever feel like you’re going to drop the tablet.  It’s large enough to view just about anything you’d be likely viewing easily, from web pages to YouTube videos to eBooks and more.  When I showed Sean the device the other day, his exact words were “this is the perfect size.”  I’d agree.  I wanted something portable and felt good enough to hold it for long periods of time – the Nexus 7 hits those marks without breaking a sweat.

How It Works:

My 32GB version shipped with Android 4.1.1, and within a few minutes of connecting to WiFi updated itself to 4.1.2.  Jelly Bean is the best version of Android yet, and its performance is smooth and polished.  What’s a little odd is the Google Play store advertises that the Nexus 7 ships with Android 4.2, but this clearly wasn’t the case with my device.  I’ve flashed a few elements of 4.2 onto my Galaxy Nexus, and I can’t wait for the official version to come out, as just the camera and keyboard bits are fantastic upgrades.

Even so, I buy Nexus products for their ability to be unlocked and rooted, and the Nexus 7 is no exception.  After a few days and with a few minutes work, I had the tablet unlocked and rooted, and a few minutes after that, I had a custom ROM flashed onto it.  I use a custom launcher as well, so transitions between home screens are smooth and quick, and rotations from portrait to landscape and back again are snappy.  I only experienced some choppiness when using the Chrome browser, specifically when scrolling up or down on web pages.  To me, this isn’t really acceptable from a hardware or software standpoint, and the lag isn’t crippling, just annoying.  Which honestly makes it even less acceptable.  There’s really no reason I can think of for it at all.  

Real world battery tests included me using the tablet to watch a YouTube video for a half hour (which I streamed from my phone’s mobile hotspot) where the battery went from 100% to 93%.  Web use over WiFi makes barely a dent, and you have to work hard to drain the 4325mAh battery with mostly web based usage.  Google claims 10 hours of web surfing – I believe they are right.  As of the writing of this article, I’ve been on battery for 1d 7h 51m, with a little over 5h 22m of screen on time.  Chrome has used the cpu for 2h 10m, and Google Music about 27m of  usage.  And there’s still 30% of the battery left.  I’d expect to go about 3-4 days between charges with light to moderate usage, and 2 days pretty easily with normal use.

The Final Word:  

The Nexus 7 (in a word) is awesome.  I had a odd circumstance that forced me to wait for one of my gift cards, so while I had originally settled on purchasing the 16GB version of the Nexus, I’m glad the delay allowed me to get the 32GB version.  Now I can download as much content as I want, and not worry about running out of storage.  I can use the cloud if I need to, but I have the storage space to do as I please. The limited 8/16GB versions initially launched made me wary about buying one, but I’m very pleased with this purchase.  It’s size, features, Nexus qualities, and price point really do make this the best Android tablet out there.  You can take my word for it…or go check it out for yourself.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

[News] Google’s Nexus 7 tablet reported sales about 1 million per month

Asus executives are reporting some substantial growth in the Nexus 7 tablet area, according to their quarterly earnings call.  While Google does not discuss sales figures for their products, Asus apparently doesn’t have any such qualms…the call indicates that the first few months after launch about 500,000 units were sold, then steadily grew to 600,000 and then 700,000 in the months after that.  Currently that sales figure is just south of 1,000,000 – an impressive feat considering this device has had a handful of television commercials, a 1 day stint on Google’s homepage, and word of mouth marketing.  While these numbers pale in comparison to the numbers of iPads sold each week, it demonstrates the Nexus line from Google and partners is making headway in the Android tablet market.

With the Kindle Fire HD it’s only real competition, and with the upcoming release of larger storage and 3G connectivity options in the Nexus 7 (as well as the soon to be released Nexus 10 model) Android tablet sales as we head into the holiday season may well yet be even further on the rise.

[News] Monday, Oct 29th, is the Google Android event *Updated*

Just a quick reminder that Monday, October 29th, 2012 will be the Google Android Event, starting at 10am eastern, 7:00am pacific time.  Yours truly will be covering the event as it happens, and will have updates throughout the morning for the Android goodies that come from it.  A quick recap of the rumors so far:  Nexus 10 tablet, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean updates, $99 Nexus 7, 32GB Nexus 7, and a 3G enabled Nexus 7.  Could there be more surprises in store?  I surely hope so.  But if all we get is what’s rumored, I expect it will be a pretty solid day for Google, Android, and the OEMs involved.

UPDATE:  So…that Google Event….not so much.  Due to concerns about travel during Hurricane Sandy, Google has postponed their event indefinitely.  Sad I guess, but best not to have folks be flying with windspeeds of up to 70mph.  Thanks to the good folks over at Engadget for letting us know.

*Source:  Engadget

[Rumor]Google working on super high resolution 10" tablet with Samsung; $99 Nexus 7 for Christmas

CNET released a report this evening indicating Google is working on a 10″ tablet with Samsung.

The Nexus 10 is rumored to have a 2,560 x 1,600 screen.  This would give it a PPI (pixels per inch) of 299.  For reference the iPad 3 has a PPI of 264, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has a PPI of 267, and the iPhone 5 has a PPI of 326.  The 299 PPI would be the highest of any tablet.

No details on the processor were released, but either the Exynos 4412/Mali-400 combo from the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note 2 or the Exynos 5 Dual would be good guesses.  The Exynos 5 Dual is a Cortex A-15 based chip that is paired with a Mali-604 GPU and would provide substantial power for the new tablet.

The report also indicated Google and ASUS would release a $99 Nexus 7 in time for Christmas.  Google could use the $99 Nexus 7 to counter the impending iPad Mini release.

Look for more potential details at the AllThingsD: Dive into Mobile conference at the end of October.

Remember this benchmark from September showing a Dual-core 1.7Ghz chip with a Mali-604 being tested?  The resolution doesn’t match up with the rumored Nexus 10, but it does show Samsung has been testing the new Exynos 5 Dual for a couple months now.  Make it happen Google!

[Rumor] Larger storage coming in new Nexus 7? *Updated*

First reported by the good fellas over at Droid Life, there may be indications that the popular Google and Asus produced Nexus 7 tablet may be coming out in the future with a larger storage option than is currently available.  As someone who would already own this tablet if not for an unbelievable gift card snafu (don’t get me started), this is a very cool rumor.
What does every person who owns a gadget with 16GB of storage want?  To have a 32GB version of the same device, of course!  Since the Nexus 7 only comes in 8GB or 16GB versions currently, doubling the amount of storage with the same great existing feature list makes this almost a MUST own for any Android enthusiast.  I could almost overlook the previously mentioned gift card snafu if it meant that I’d be able to lay hands on the larger storage version of this killer tablet.

While owning a tablet itself in the day and age where just about every American household has some form of PC or laptop in it already is a completely separate article, suffice it to say if you were going to get one, give this one a long look.  And if you can hold off until the holidays, you could potentially get a great reward for your patience.  If you can’t hold off, and want to buy this terrific tablet now, straight from Google, go here.  For Droid-Life’s review of the Nexus 7, go here.

If/when the Nexus 7 (of any storage variety) finds its way into this Shawn’s household, you can bet an extensive review of its feature list will not be far behind!

Update:  There is an addition report from Droid Life that indicates another source has seen the 32GB variant of the Nexus 7, and its possible that it might be out by 10/24/2012!  Even better news for those us eagerly awaiting this item to become available – including yours truly.