The Google Nexus 7
tablet is truly a remarkable achievement - cramming in that much of the latest technology in a 7-inch package worth a mere $199 is something that only Google seems capable of doing. The Nexus 7 also gets a neat design and a high resolution screen, but it’s not just about the hardware. The one area where the Google-Asus tablet really shines is software as it arrives with the latest and greatest of Android, 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Moreover, unlike any other tablet on the market, with the Nexus 7 you don’t have to worry about updates
. The tacit assumption is that since this is a Nexus tablet it will be the first to get updated to newer Android versions, and that alone is a huge advantage.
But while the Nexus 7 is great it does take a few shortcuts to arrive at its low price - you can’t expand that memory and if you opt for the $199 8 gig version, you’d only have less than 6 gigs free for your data. Also, you don’t have a rear camera and while we don’t think that’s a huge omission some might want to have it. A bigger miss is the lack of an HDMI port, and no MHL support which means you’d need a third-party wireless media streamer like the Nexus Q to stream what’s on the tablet to an HD TV.
So what are the alternatives and are there any, really? You might be surprised to learn that there is one device that has gone under the radar for more than a month now, and has nearly all the features of the Nexus 7 except for Jelly Bean. And others are also trying to match it. But if you could live with the couple of small flaws of the Nexus 7, we really wouldn't want to spoil it for you - the device is great, just go ahead and get it, we'd approve.
Nexus 7 best alternatives
Nexus 7 best alternatives
1. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 - prices start from $250
If we could narrow it down to just one true alternative to the Nexus 7, that would be the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. With prices starting from $250, this tablet offers both expandable storage and a rear camera, all in a neatly designed package. You’d still need an HDMI adapter to connect this to a TV, though, or you can use the Samsung AllShare app. As all other competitors, however, it doesn’t have Jelly Bean just yet.
2. Amazon Kindle Fire - $200
We couldn’t really go without the Kindle Fire here could we? The 7-inch tablet that started it all for the affordable slate category brings tons of content on Amazon and it’s the perfect gateway to their ecosystem. When it comes to hardware and performance, though, it’s now worlds apart from the Nexus 7, and we don’t mean this in a good way.
3. Archos 80 G9 Turbo 8GB - price varies, now sold for $220
The Archos 80 is an 8-inch tablet that’s noticeably bigger than the Nexus 7, but it’s got you covered with everything - from cameras, through expandable storage and to mini HDMI output. It also runs on Ice Cream Sandwich, and we expect Archos to update it relatively soon to Jelly Bean.
4. BlackBerry PlayBook refurb - prices vary, sold for $160
The BlackBerry PlayBook might be over a year old, but it’s operating system is a breath of fresh air from Android, and it’s sold for cheap. It also brings relatively good quality cameras and a mini HDMI port for easy connection with HD TVs.
5. Acer Iconia A100 Tablet - $230
It might run on Honeycomb, but it comes with that sense of freedom - you can easily connect it to an HD TV with a buit-in HDMI port and the memory is easily expandable. The two cameras also come as an extra, but the hardware looks a bit dated now - it’s last year’s Tegra 2 powering the show.