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By Mike McEnaney | for Technology Tell

Google’s play in the tablet market is the Nexus 7, a 7-inch screen Android tablet clearly built for on-the-go use; once you play with this one for awhile, you’ll also see it was truly designed around—and for—Google Play. While little headway has been made with regard to challengers of Apple’s iPad, we have to say the Nexus 7 may prove one of the more a formidable opponents as the tablet wars roll along.

First off, just to be upfront, an iPad feature the Nexus 7 doesn’t have: no rear camera. And the screen resolution, while more than adequate, doesn’t quite match that of the popular Apple device. You’re also not getting the same volume of content choices, or the availability of the iPad’s enormous app library.

The good news is since the original Nexus 7 debut, Google has unveiled a new and upgraded 32GB Nexus 7—priced at $299 with cellular data connectivity—as well as a new Nexus 10. All run on Google’s new Android v4.2 flavored-candy named “Jelly Bean” operating system. Add amazing battery life of around 10 hours to the equation, and you’ve got the beginnings of a very appealing and formidable tablet line.

The familiar Android Market (the company’s app and content store) has been renamed Google Play, and within here you’ve got over 700,000 apps and games, millions of e-books and songs, thousands of movies, and a growing selection of TV shows and magazines. There’s a good amount of free content as well. Google tells us they’re also working on adding more content for 2013.

The 1.2MP front-facing camera rests at the top of the tablet’s front panel. Unlike the Kindle Fire’s lone button (a product the Nexus matches up most closely with), Google has opted to go with three controls: a right side power/sleep button, and a two-stage volume rocker button right below that. Everything else is done via on-screen controls. The bottom of the device simply has a micro USB port and 3.5mm headphone jack. A very thin speaker line is located just above these ports on the rubberized back and provides decent yet limited sound quality.

Some of the cooler features packed within the device include an accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope and GPS chip, (timed well to take advantage of Google Maps’ new offline mode for navigating when Wi-Fi isn’t available). Web surfing is done via Google’s Chrome browser and the experience is as smooth and fast as any we’ve ever used, and the 7-inch screen provides ample size for viewing this and any other content you choose. We’ll even go as far as to say the 7-inch size suits the tablet category quite well as it’s provides greater flexibility for a product category that screams on-the-go usage. In fact, what we liked most of all about the Nexus 7 is how good the device feels in your hand; light but solidly built, there is nothing chintzy about the Nexus 7’s design.

All in all a great option for those looking to get in the tablet game on a tighter budget.

FAST FACTS:

Google Nexus 7 – 32GB – $299

https://play.google.com

• 8GB/16GB/23GB onboard storage options

• Weighs 12 ozs

• Over 700,000 apps/games/ebooks/emags/etc available on Google Play

 
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