The Nexus 7 is an amazing package for something that costs a penny less than $200. It feels like something that could sell for much more. It has a great screen, solid performance and a clean, clear, uncluttered version of Google's latest operating system, Jelly Bean. From a pure hardware standpoint it beats the Kindle in every way possible -- except for content. Amazon's selection almost always trumps that of Google's, both in terms of variety and cost, but that's one wonderful problem to have, because almost all of that content is just as available on the Nexus 7 as it is on the Fire. The only major exception is Amazon Instant Video, and with Netflix, we can live with that.
So, while we tend to prefer larger tablets that better differentiate themselves from phones, if you've been toying with the idea of getting a real Android slate but didn't want to spend big bucks for a big device, this is what you've been waiting for. This is the best Android tablet for less than $200 and the best budget 7-inch tablet on the market. For the moment. The race to the bottom in the tablet space is, after all, just getting started and, if the Nexus 7 is any indication of what's to come, we're in for a very good ride.
The Best Small Tablet
Big screens are nice. But sometimes the extra real estate isn't worth the lack of portability. If tablets are considered mobile devices, they should be easy to take with you, right?
That's the idea behind a new class of small tablets with screens measuring roughly 7 inches diagonally. Over the last six months, some really, really good products have come out in this category. In a test of four big ones, we found high notes, low points, and a clear overall winner.
Kindle Fire HD vs. Nexus 7: What’s the Best 7-inch Tablet Display
The display on the Kindle Fire HD was the decisive winner of these two leading 7-inch tablets.It is much better than the iPad 2 and almost as good as the new iPad in overall picture quality and color accuracy. While the new iPad's 264 PPI screen is significantly sharper for reading text and viewing finely detailed computer graphics, the Kindle Fire HD's 216 PPI screen is still very sharp and its 1280x800 screen exceeds the resolution needed for viewing standard High Definition 1280x720 video content, one of its principal marketing goals. Like the new iPad, the Kindle Fire HD has better picture quality and color accuracy than most HDTVs, laptops, and monitors, so it could wind up being your most accurate display for viewing photos, videos and web content. Mobile displays are often viewed under reasonably high Ambient Lighting. The Kindle Fire HD has the highest measured Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light of any tablet that we have tested in our Shoot-Out series, which is impressive.The Nexus 7 actually has an LCD display that is similar in performance to the Kindle Fire HD, but a poor (and sloppy) Factory Calibration has degraded its native panel performance. Depending on the display firmware this may or may not be correctable with a software update. A second problem is a bug that causes a 15 percent erratic variation in screen Brightness, sometimes bringing the Nexus 7 Maximum Brightness down to almost 300 cd/m2, which we classify as Poor for Maximum Brightness. It is likely that this particular display bug can be fixed by Google with a software update. On the other hand, the Kindle Fire HD has a (stable) Maximum Brightness of 434 cd/m2 that is much brighter than the Nexus 7 and among the brightest tablets we have tested. If both Nexus 7 problems are fixed with a software update, then the Nexus 7 display will be much closer in performance to the Kindle Fire HD. But in addition to these issues, the Nexus 7 has a Green primary that is much less saturated than even the iPad 2, which is quite noticeable and a step backward. This also significantly lowers the saturation of Yellows that lie between Green and Red. This can't be fixed in software, but even so, the Nexus 7 could still become a very good display if the other display software and firmware issues are fixed.
The Google Nexus 7 Display Stumbles and Falls Short
The Nexus 7 has a high quality display, they just really messed up the factory calibration. This affects all displayed images, but it is most noticeable on any form of photographic image, including videos, because the color and intensity mixtures are visually critical for them to look right. The analogy of an over exposed photo is a good one. For high contrast software generated text and graphics the display will look fine.
In short, the display produces washed out images and colors in spite of the fact that it has a display with excellent color saturation and contrast.
Looks like Google didn't pay enough attention to the Steve Jobs memo that the key to a successful Tablet is an outstanding display. If high image and picture quality is important to you, then you might want to skip the Google Nexus 7 and wait for a Tablet with a better display, or wait and see if Google can correct the problem.