The public seems to have a love-hate relationship with iPads. Depending on the generation there may be no ports for USB action, a slow schedule of changes and upgrades, and of course there’s the Apple v.s. Android give and take of the App market. The new iPad mini with Retina display is cleaning up in the higher echelons of the small tablet market right now, however, having improved on what iPad does best with its beloved iOS and its incomparable screen. Last year’s version of the Google Nexus, though, went right by the Samsung Galaxy Tab and seemed poised to take a pretty large bite out of the competition. Now with the unveiling of the new Nexus 7, we get to see what Google has been up to in the last year, and the direction the arguably hottest line new tablets will be going in the future.
While users of the new iPad have mentioned a lack of updated features on their tablets, a slightly too wide for one hand design and only one option for storage size at 16GB, it is still a heavy hitter for its dependability with iOS, its incredible Retina screen clarity, high-resolution and color saturation, and that beautiful brushed aluminum look. And while Android systems and Apple systems access a different batch of apps, no one can say that the iPad is at a disadvantage in how many apps it can access.
And then there was the Google Nexus 7, arguably the hottest new tablet on the market
Nexus 7 pushes the envelope for mid-priced tablets. Among the seven-inch entrants, many reviewers, among them Techradar and CNET, seem to think it the clear winner. Building on the success of the previous Nexus model, Google has fixed many of the bugs that plagued the earlier tablet and cleaned up its design a bit. Though reviews were mixed as to whether the old textured backing was better than the new slick one, one can not complain that the tough plastic back of this tablet is not a durable alternative to the solid Galaxy Tab or the brushed aluminum of the iPad 4, if not as handsome. It is also light, as only a seven-inch tablet could be. It has a good grip, the kind that makes your hand happy to hold it…and with .9 less screen width than the iPad mini, the Nexus 7 may be slightly less fun as a web browser, but it is definitely less of a pain to hold in one hand for long periods.
And then there’s the screen quality. Now, this display has been reported by many to be right up there with the best, easily edging out the latest Kindle. Crisp, beautifully saturated and with vivid resolution, it clear and responsive–some have said almost too responsive sometimes–and makes games like Temple Run work like they are supposed to. The viewing angles are good and change quickly from landscape to portrait; but as often happens with tablets, this one suffers the same curse as the others in that sometimes it just does not seem to realize which way you’re pointing, and switches from one view to the other with little provocation. Nothing new there, really. Samsung entrants generally have the same problem. The screen resolution is certainly not quite as good as the Retina offered by the iPad mini, with slightly less saturated colors; but every reviewer has said that the resolution is close enough to the iPad that a user could only tell the difference if they were viewed side by side.
Now, with the storage capacity of places like the Cloud, the demand for great speakers is high in a tablet. A user wants to be able to hear perfect music and crisp dialogue from a very small organ on the device. It is quite the balancing act for a speaker system in a slim, tiny device such as this one to do equal justice to voice, guitar and drums, but the Nexus 7 gets away with it. Everything sounds clear here.
Charging, of course, takes a while on this tablet. One nice surprise for many reviewers, however, was that it has a comparatively long battery life for such a multi-tasker.
Another pro is that the Nexus 7 is more affordable than other entrants, coming in at $200 to $260. This is a huge point on its side when compared to the iPad mini, which costs another $100 or so for the wider and more saturated screen with its Retina display. The Nexus also wins out on storage options, even having done away with the old microSD slot. Though the Nexus does not have a 64 gig option, it does go all the way up to 32gb. This is a good thing, since a lot of the available storage is already taken up with a 6gb Android 4.3 OS. Best to spring for the 32gb than the 16 gig, since that really brings you down to 10 gigs of storage after factoring in the OS.
This Nexus 7 is reported to be less touchy than its predecessor, Google having got down to business and done away with the bugs that plagued the last model, including the GPS issues and the “phantom touches” that occasionally plagued the keyboards of some of the previous generation. More importantly, it fits easily in one hand, something this entrant can really use to laud itself over the iPad mini. It runs a competitive software/hardware package as well.
The summary seems to be that the new iPad mini is the clear winner in screen quality, with its Retina display, its slightly wider 7.9” screen and its better-than-HD resolution. It is also prohibitively expensive, running from $300 to $500, making the Nexus 7 the clear winner in almost every other area. For an affordable seven-inch entrant with a competitive screen, smooth performance, storage options, and a long battery life, a good many people are migrating over to the Google Nexus 7 for their tablet needs and calling it the hottest new entrant in the small tablet market.
Editorial by Kat Turner