Google Nexus 7: What's not hot

Considering the Nexus 7 as a tablet? Here's six things we dislike about Google's own branded Android tablet.

Considering the Nexus 7 as a tablet? Here's six things we dislike about Google's own branded Android tablet.

1. The display

The Nexus 7 has a 7in LCD display with a resolution of 1280x800, which is quite impressive for its size. Despite this reasonable resolution, the display on the Nexus 7 has a few annoying flaws that become noticeable the more you use it.

The main issue centres around two aspects. Firstly, the Nexus 7 doesn't display blacks as well as many rival displays. This is very noticeable when you're watching a movie on the tablet like The Dark Knight, for example. In many dark scenes, what is supposed to be deep black often appears as dark grey on the Nexus 7.

Secondly, the Nexus 7's screen isn't as bright or vibrant as we'd have liked, even though its viewing angles are good. It lacks the true colour vibrancy of super AMOLED screens, like the one used on the Toshiba Tablet AT270. Colours are often washed out. If you've got nothing to compare the Nexus 7 to, you probably won't be bothered by this issue, but it will annoy users who are expecting a high quality screen.

2. Limited memory

The Google Nexus 7 comes in 8GB and 16GB models with no memory card slot for expanding this storage. While we aren't fussed with the exclusion of a memory card slot, we would have liked to see a 32GB Nexus 7 model. Many users will be happy with 8GB or 16GB of memory, but there's plenty of people who will crave more space.

For these people, Google will argue that cloud storage is available should you wish to store more data than the Nexus 7 allows. While this is certainly true, the idea of cloud storage won't suit all users and requires a constant wireless Internet connection. Further, storing large files like videos and movies in the cloud is neither a practical or overly affordable solution. Most people would rather have access to these types of files on the Nexus 7 itself.

3. No 3G or 4G connectivity

The Nexus 7 is a Wi-Fi only tablet, so there's no 3G or 4G mobile data option. Wi-Fi will be enough for many users, especially those that only plan to use the Nexus 7 at home or in another location with a Wi-Fi connection. However, those who frequently travel will be left disappointed. On the train to work and want to grab that file from Google Drive or Dropbox? No can do.

Of course, there are two solutions to solve the 3G issue. Firstly, you could tether from your smartphone to the Nexus 7. Secondly, you could purchase a 3G/4G Wi-Fi modem, like Telstra's pre-paid Wi-Fi 4G, for example. However, both of these solutions aren't the most seamless. Constantly tethering your smartphone will quickly drain its battery, while most Wi-Fi modems have a battery life of around three or four hours — capable, but certainly not enough to last a full cycle of the Nexus 7's battery life. A 3G/4G Nexus 7 would eliminate the need for these half-measures and open up the tablet to a potential new user base.

4. Home screen

We love Google's Jelly Bean software on the Nexus 7. It's the fastest, smoothest and most functional version of Android yet. However, we find it incredibly annoying that Google hasn't allowed users to rotate the Nexus 7's home screen into landscape mode, even though many Android apps will.

It appears Google is intent on encouraging users to hold the tablet in portrait mode, except when viewing multimedia content. While the natural tendency is to hold the Nexus 7 this way, is it too much to ask for a bit of flexibility? Not every person will use the Nexus 7 in the same way.

5. Android apps

The Nexus 7 is a good introduction to the world of Android for first time users, but it also highlights the fundamental flaws with Google's fragmented ecosystem — that is, most Android apps haven't been designed specifically for tablet use.

This means many apps in Google's Play Store won't work as well as they should on the Nexus 7. Some, like Spotify, won't rotate into landscape mode and can only be used in portrait orientation. Others, like the official Twitter app, are simply blown up smartphone apps, stretched to fill the screen of the Nexus 7.

There are, of course, examples both ways. The the Pulse Reader app, Pocket, Instapaper, Flixster Movies and Evernote all work fantastically well on the Nexus 7. The excellent Flipboard media aggregator also works reasonably well, though it won't rotate into landscape mode, either. On the other hand, the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Tango, Instagram, Dropbox and Spotify all work, but there are instances where it is painfully obvious these apps were designed for a smartphone rather than a tablet. Many of them won't rotate into landscape and are often filled with lots of white space and small UI elements. What also lacks in Australia is Google's multimedia content. Where US users can purchase magazines, books, music, TV shows and movies in the Play Store, Aussies can only buy books and rent movies. There are plenty of other ways to load content on the Nexus 7 but the lack of options in the Australian Play Store is a black mark on a device specifically designed for this purpose.

6. Gaming downloads

The Nexus 7's small size and light weight makes it an excellent gaming device. The Play Store has an excellent selection of games and unlike many other apps, most of them run perfectly well on the tablet. In fact, we didn't experience any performance issues during testing — the Nexus 7 handled graphically intense titles like Shadowgun, FIFA 12, Dungeon Hunter 3 and Dead Trigger with relative ease.

So what's the problem? Google's method for download games with large file sizes. On some large games downloading the game from the Play Store only downloads a small file. Then, when you install the game and open it for the first time, the additional files required to run the game are downloaded.

This may not sound like a big problem, but these downloads are often huge sizes. Gameloft's Modern Combat 3, for example, requires 1.37GB of free storage space to download extra files after the initial 4.1MB download, while N.O.V.A 2 needs around 450MB of space after the initial 2.5MB Play Store download. There's no indication of how much space is needed before you purchase these games and we found the download often failed if you tried to push it into the background. That means you can't effectively use the Nexus 7 while these big files are downloading. This process leaves a black mark on the overall user experience.

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