The understated box won’t take your breath away, but it is well designed and it contains the bare essentials: a 2-amp charger, USB cable, warranty and documentation, and of course, the device itself. In terms of hardware, the Nexus 7 features a 7-inch 1280x800 resolution IPS screen, housed behind a sheet of Corning glass. At 216 pixels per inch, the screen looks and works really well, much better than you would expect from a $199 device. The front also features a 1.2-megapixel camera and in keeping with Nexus tradition, there are no hardware buttons.
The Nexus 7 is powered by a Tegra 3 T30L processor, clocked at 1.2GHz and capable of hitting 1.3GHz in single core mode. The chip also contains a fifth companion core, clocked at 500MHz. The additional core is on board to improve battery life and most of our readers are already familiar with the concept. The GPU part works at 416MHz, a 104MHz lower than the Tegra 3 T30 and therefore might end up a bit slower in some games. However, we found it to be more than sufficient to deal with the 1280x800 screen.
The back of the device features a rugged, yet smooth rubberized finish, pitted with hundreds of tiny indentations and emblazoned with a large Nexus logo, all caps. Just above the speaker, you can see the Asus logo, much smaller than the Nexus logo.
The left hand side features a four-pin proprietary connector that should be used with a charger, dock or other accessories.
The power button and volume rocker are located on the left, while the micro USB and 3.5 headphone connector are located at the bottom of the device.
There are no connectors at the top, either.
We are pleased to report that the Nexus 7 looks and feels like a much pricier device. Granted, there are no fancy materials like aluminium or ceramics, but Asus did a pretty good job on a very tight budget. The first impression when you pick up the Nexus 7 for the first time is really nice. The 7-inch form factor is really comfortable for reading and one-hand operation. It is a bit bigger than traditional 6-inch Kindle readers, but it still feels good in your hand, especially thanks to its light 340g (0.74lbs) build.
After the mandatory Android setup, you are good to go. Let’s not forget that Google sells this tablet with $25 store credit valid for its Google Play store, which is a nice touch. Google also bundles a free copy of Transformer Dark of the Moon on the device, in order to test drive the tablet’s 720p capabilities. The screen is great, it shows vivid colors and it’s good for video, picture browsing as well as web. It really looks impressive and it turned out much better than we originally expected at this price point. However, the screen is not perfect. It is a bit on the warm side and whites tend to end up with a yellowish hue.