What Makes the Nexus 7 the Best Android Tablet by Far

It's not so much what the 7-inch tablet does, but what it doesn't do (freeze, lag, confound).

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Nexus 7 product shots

Google’s I/O conference for 2012 brought out a lot of new features, products, and ideas, fresh from Mountain View, for the crowd to digest. I tried my best to summarize it all in 480 words, but I had to leave out entire product lines, let alone details on any one thing. If I had to pick one thing that Google should crow about, though, it’s Android 4.1, “Jelly Bean,” and the reference device they debuted to show it off, the Nexus 7. It’s really the best Android device I’ve used, with perhaps the most thought put into every aspect of how people do use devices and might want to use them. Here’s why.

Form factor

Yes, it’s in the same form and size space as the Kindle Fire. But you should know that it’s slightly shorter, slightly thinner, and much, much lighter than a Kindle Fire. Its only physical hardware buttons are a power switch and a volume rocker, and they’re on the back, upper-right side of the device if you hold it in portrait mode. It’s meant for arm’s length or table-top viewing and text entry, and lacks the kind of size that allows for Bluetooth keyboard typing or farther out viewing that iPads provide. But given that the Nexus 7 is ⅖ the price of an iPad, sporting a screen that’s 7/10 of the iPad is a reasonable choice.

The screen itself

It’s 216 pixels per inch (ppi), which is far beyond the first and second-generation iPad that came in at 132 ppi, and short of the third-generation iPad’s 264 ppi. It’s fairly bright, and having tested it out with one HD and one SD episode of The Walking Dead, it’s good for video applications. One disadvantage is when doing finer text editing, as getting close up to letters in text fields reveals pixelation and the limits of web pages compressed into a 7-inch screen. There’s a reason the I/O demonstration emphasized voice input with the Nexus 7.

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