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8/1/2012
09:22 AM
Todd Ogasawara
Todd Ogasawara
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Google Nexus 7: Latest Must-Have Tablet

Meet the Nexus 7, the first Android tablet sold directly by Google and the first to run Android 4.1, a.k.a. Jelly Bean. The 7-inch tablet is priced like an ebook reader but offers a lot more. Its low price, big screen, and impressive performance might give Apple's iPod Touch and low-end iPad a run for the money, too. Don't completely count out Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 just yet, though.
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The Nexus 7 (left) is similar in size and features to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. Both these 7-inch tablets are good counter-arguments to the late Steve Jobs' assertion that tablets smaller than 10 inches have no appeal. There are significant differences, however, that could lead you to choose one over the other.

The newer Nexus 7 has more processing power and a nicer screen that's capable of delivering 720p HD video. it also has several features the Galaxy lacks, including near field communications (NFC) for short-range wireless data transfer, and a Hall effect sensor, presumably to provide a magnetic on-off switch. There are many other features, such as facial recognition, that the Nexus 7 offers by merit of having the latest Android operating system. One extremely welcome Nexus advantage over the Galaxy is a standard microUSB port that accepts standard cables--the Galaxy is limited to a proprietary USB connector.

The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 does have, however, two features not found in the Nexus 7: a 3MP rear-facing camera for photography and augmented reality (AR) tasks; and a microSD slot capable of accepting cards up to 32GB. So, although the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 comes in only one 8GB version, you can have up to 40GB storage by adding one $20 microSD storage card. By comparison, the Nexus 7 tops out at 32GB.

Jelly Bean screen tip: To make the Nexus automatically rotate the home screen from portrait to landscape viewing, tap the small lock to the right of the time and date. (Unlike previous Android OSes, Jelly Bean comes out of the box with the home screen fixed in portrait mode.)

Screen tip #2: Pay no attention to anything you might have heard about the Nexus 7 having a dim screen. That wasn't my experience--it's plenty bright.

Check out the main differences between the Nexus 7 and the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 in the features table below.

  Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Nexus 7
Android OS version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
Processor cores 2 4
LCD resolution in pixels 1024 x 600 1280 x 800
Near-field dommunications (NFC) No Yes
Hall effect sensor (magnetic switch) No Yes
Docking port No Yes
microSD slot Yes, up to 32GB No
Rear-facing camera 3MP No
Front-facing camera 0.3MP 1.2MP
USB connector type Proprietary micro-USB

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