Google Nexus 7, Chromecast: Visual Tour(click image for larger view)
Google's second-generation Nexus 7 tablet, introduced on Wednesday, delivers significantly better performance than its predecessor and surpasses Apple's iPad Mini in several ways.
The new Nexus 7, known as "Razor," trades its white back for black. No longer two-tone, the 7-inch tablet might not reflect as much light as its first incarnation but it still outshines the competition, at least for the time being. In the coming months, Apple and other tablet makers are likely to respond. But for now, the new Nexus 7 deserves serious consideration if you're looking to buy a 7-inch tablet.
The best thing about the Nexus 7 Razor is its screen. The 7.02-inch 1920-pixel-by-1200-pixel HD display (323 ppi) looks great, provided you're viewing content prepared with a high-resolution screen in mind. It's ideal for gaming and video, thanks to its 16:9 aspect ratio, which is similar to the iPhone 5's. The iPad Mini has a 4:3 aspect ratio, which isn't optimal for HD video but works well for reading ebooks. The crispness of text on the Nexus 7 offers some compensation for its narrower pages.
[ Want more on the Nexus 7 Razor? Read Google Nexus 7 Heats Up Mini-Tablet Battle. ]
The Nexus 7 starts at $229 for the 16-GB model. The 16-GB iPad Mini starts at $329, 43% more than the Nexus. Add 16 GB of additional memory to the Nexus and the cost rises to $269. Add 16 GB of additional memory to the iPad Mini and the cost rises to $429. If money is no object, buy both and donate your least favorite to a worthy cause. If money matters, the Nexus 7 is the clear winner.
The quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, which runs at 1.5 GHz, should outperform the older dual-core Apple A5 (1 GHz) in the iPad Mini, particularly with applications that take advantage of Open GL ES 3.0, a new addition to Android 4.3. Even so, outside of graphically demanding apps, processor power isn't everything.
4. Wireless Charging
Charging by cable is not a problem, but it can be a hassle. The Nexus 7 supports wireless charging, so you can put it down on an inductive charging pad and have it charge without attaching any cables. Wireless charging requires extra investment -- inductive charging pads range from $30 to $80 or so online. But you might find it worth the effort.
Android 4.3 is the best version of Android yet. For iOS zealots, Android is not an option, particularly with iOS 7 promised in a few months. Personally, Android has grown on me, to the point that I'm content in either operating system. I still find many iOS apps more responsive than their Android versions and prefer the simpler iOS UI conventions, but the relative openness and customizability of Android appeals to me.
6. Google Play
Google Play offers a better purchase experience than Apple's iTunes Store, mainly because it works on the Web rather than in a separate application. Apple has really missed the boat by failing to allow customers to purchase iTunes content directly from the Web.
Beyond these features, the Nexus 7 and the iPad Mini are more or less evenly matched. Both have 1.2-MP front-facing cameras and 5-MP rear-facing cameras. Both support Bluetooth 4.0. Both support dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4G/5G) 802.11 a/b/g/n. Both claim about 10 hours of battery life. Both come with more or less the same sensors. Their respective weights differ by only a few grams. Really, it's hard to go wrong with either device.
If you're committed exclusively to Apple products, well, there's not much that can be said to convince you to venture outside Apple's walled garden. But if you're open to a great Android tablet at great price, take a look at Google's new Nexus 7.