Nexus 7 (2013) pictures and hands-on: Yes, the screen really is that good

Google has updated the Nexus 7, acknowledging Asus as the manufacturer but taking the approach that this is very much a Google product, one of the Nexus family, a true follow-up to the most popular Android tablet to date.

Pocket-lint was at the Google campus event to find out what all the fuss was about and whether the device that touts the highest-resolution screen for a tablet on the market, is as amazing as Google claims.

There is no doubting it, the 7-inch screen is the key to Google's attempt to take on the iPad mini, and put simply, is superb, and vastly superior to the iPad mini when the two are side-by-side. That's mainly because the resolution has been bumped to 1920 x 1200 pixels, giving the new Nexus a pixel density of 323ppi, far sharper than the iPad mini with its 169ppi, and beating the Retina iPad 4 with its ppi of 264. 

Colours are astonishingly bright and precise, and it's definitely worth digging out all those pictures of sunsets and beaches - although be warned the display can reveal some unwanted blemishes on up-close portraits.

It's not just pictures that benefit. Video is also incredibly impressive, and we watched some of Life of Pi, and a promo video Google made for the launch to get a gander at just how good the screen is. Both were stunning, and Google's in-house effort also boasts some surprisingly good faux surround sound effects too.

Playing back full 1080p video also shows off the Nexus's 7 power boost. Ditching Nvidia, the new tablet now features a 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, Adreno 320 graphics and 2GB of RAM all powering the new version of Android, 4.3 Jelly Bean.

All that power makes video playback flawless - although loading a full film does make you wait a few seconds.

Sound is superb, and surprisingly so - Google has really thought about the speaker placement, and it's perfect for watching films in bed. That's handy, as while Apple claims most people are using the iPad for surfing the web, Google says most are using apps and watching films and TV shows.

We can't emphasise this enough, the high-resolution screen is really the killer feature here, and gives Google a big advantage over the iPad mini, especially with rumours about Apple's plans to release a Retina display iPad mini being delayed. The screen really is superb.

Another significant change this time around comes in the form of a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera. Last year's Nexus 7 didn't have one at all. A front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera is included for video calling and the like.

Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n is on board, but there's no ac compatibility this year - that might be something saved over for the next edition. There's also Bluetooth 4.0 and a Micro-USB port for hooking it up for charging and file transmission. SlimPort support also means you can output video through an adaptor.

However, there is still a question over apps. Apple simply has more tablet optimised apps on offer and of a consistently higher quality.

But wait, Google has a retort: Full HD Netflix. It is a big move for Google, and combined with the speakers, positions the Nexus 7 as a superb home entertainment device, as well as an excellent all round tablet - as long as the apps you want are available for it.

Technically, at least, the Nexus 7 trumps the iPad mini - but as Apple has proven, the mobile market is about apps more than specs, and it remains to be seen whether this new Nexus, and a continuing growth in Android tablet sales, will attract more developers to Google Play with tablet apps.

The new Nexus 7 is a hefty update over the original device. The Nexus 7 will be available from $229.99 (£150). Google has confirmed that it's going to be available internationally, but there's no word on pricing in the UK as yet.



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