I am a big fan of vanilla android. And I am a big fan of products being sold for just slightly over cost, because Google almost views it as a loss leader to get you using their other products. I am also a big fan of many of Googles other products – Google+, Google Music (or Google Play Music – I’m a fan of the product, not the stupid name), Drive, and of course Gmail. All this means the Google Nexus line was pretty much tailored for me.
When the Nexus 7 was first announced, I pre-ordered. It arrived, and I loved it. It’s absolutely perfect for my needs – content consumption, social media, and as a reader. It worked great, too – very snappy, very little lag. But as time went by, and we went from 4.1 to 4.2 to 4.2.2, a lot of lag has been introduced into the system – to a point where you can’t really call it lag; it will sometimes totally lock up for around 10 seconds.
It’s not the end of the world, but it is annoying.
My one other issue with it was, even though it came with a fairly high quality screen, the colors were…a little washed out looking, to my eye. And to many other peoples eyes, as well. So when the new N7 was announced, with it’s high res screen, and more powerful feature set, I took a look at my bank balance, and said why not. After all, I should be able to sell my OG N7 for a fair amount of money, and offset the purchase of the new tablet, at least partially.
Well, the new tablet has arrived, and I’ve now lived with it for several days. And I’ve been comparing the two side by side over that course of time. How do they compare? Lets see.
Right off the bat, there are some physical differences – the new N7 has gotten rid of the chrome bezel (thank goodness), and isn’t quite as wide.
N7 vs N7
In the picture, the new N7 looks slightly taller – it is, but just barely. As I said, it’s also not quite as wide. However, the viewing screen is exactly the same.
It is also considerably thinner.
Skinny is good.
This is one of those things that I didn’t think would be a big deal, but as it turns out, after a couple of days, the older one feels bulky. The new one is also slightly lighter, at 11.2 oz, vs 11.9. It’s barely noticeable, but I do find myself holding the new one with just two fingers a lot, while I’m reading, which is probably more due to how thin it is than the weight.
What I was most looking forward to was the higher screen resolution, and I was hoping for better color, as well. As far as the color was concerned, I was very pleased, but I wasn’t sure how much of an improvement the 1920 x 1200 resolution of the new N7 was over the 1290 x 800 of the old N7. It sounds like a huge jump, right? In fact, viewing them side by side, the difference is much more subtle than I thought it would be. At first, I actually thought there was no noticeable difference at all.
That doesn’t sound quite right. There’s a BIG difference. The new screen is MUCH better. The colors are more vibrant, graphics/images/text jump off the screen. Much BRIGHTER, too. But the resolution/pixel density…I was having a tough time seeing a difference.
Until I watched a movie side by side on both of them.
The above image was a night and day difference on the two units (this is a screenshot from the new N7). You can’t see any difference in a screenshot, but when actually viewing…you couldn’t see the sun on the old one. It looked like it was obscured by clouds. Detail is universally crisper and…well, more detailed than on the old N7.
There was one area, however, that the old N7 was better at. In low light, gradients weren’t portrayed as well on the new N7 – they look a bit pixelated. That, however, is the only area where the old is better than the new.
Other differences – the new one has both front and rear cameras, and the front facing one, while still not great, is better than the old one. I’m not going to take a lot of pictures with the back camera, but it’s nice to have, just in case. It takes ok pics, nothing to write home about.
There’s a notification light on the new one! Hurrah!
You can charge the new one wirelessly. I’m sure I’ll really dig that if I ever get a wireless charger.
There’s some new, low power Bluetooth stuff that I didn’t play with at all (hey, you want in depth, there are plenty of other places to get that kind of thing – I’m giving you a street level POV).
Two speakers, instead of one, for passable sound. This is the only mobile device that I’ve ever been able to say that about.
The headphone jack is on the top now. I’m not really pleased with that, but I’ll get used to it. Another fit and feel thing that I do like is the power button and volume rocker feel a bit more positive when you press them. A subtle difference, but I like it. They’re also slightly more recessed, and if you don’t know where they are, that might make them hard to find. They’ve used a different texture for the back – the new stuff is fine, but I really liked the touch of the old one.
And of course, much more horsepower under the hood.
Which is better?
The first day I had it, I didn’t think the differences were all that great. But over the course of a couple of days, I noticed I went from picking up whichever one was closest to me, and not caring which was which, to a couple of days later, only picking up the new one. The old one is practically forgotten about – and it’s still a really good tablet! But the new one is just nicer in virtually every way. There’s ZERO lag – this thing FLIES. There were a couple of applications on the older N7 that took several seconds before they were usable – most notably the Netflix app (the Redbox Instant app opens smoothly on everything!). No such issuewith the new one. Because of the two speakers, I don’t have to use headphones with it. The colors are better, the resolution is higher…and I’ve noticed reading on it is…just…a little bit easier on the eyes.
Little things. Subtle differences. But enough subtle differences so it all adds up to a better unit. If you don’t have a tablet and want one, jump on this one. If you have an old N7, and have the disposable income, go ahead and upgrade – you’ll be happy you did. If you have the old N7 and don’t have the cash…stick with it. It’s still a great unit, and will easily get you through another year.