With its new Nexus 7, Google has taken a huge step ahead of all other 7-inch Android tablets on the market. Its newest device weighs just 11.2 ounces, has a fast 1.5-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a super-crisp 1920 x 1200-pixel display, runs Android 4.3, and starts at $229. We had a chance to go hands-on with the new Nexus 7 right after today’s launch event and were impressed with its sharp, high-res screen and pleasant design.
While it lacks the dimpled back of its predecessor, the new Nexus 7 has a soft-touch feel that makes it comfortable to hold. At 7.9 x 4.5 x 0.24 inches, it’s a hair taller than the earlier Nexus 7, but a bit narrower and noticeably thinner and lighter, which makes it easier to hold in one hand. As on the previous model, the power and volume buttons are on the upper right-hand side, so they’re out of the way, but not overly difficult to press.
MORE: Best Tablets 2013
Like the first Nexus 7, the new Nexus 7 is designed to be held in a portrait orientation; where the former has a webcam centered above the display, the new Nexus 7′s 1.2MP camera is offset to the right.
Probably the most noticeable feature of the new Nexus 7 is its 1920 x 1200 display, which simply blows everything else at this size out of the water. Compared to both the old Nexus 7 and the MemoPad HD 7, which is also made by ASUS, images were much crisper, brighter, and more colorful. When we looked at the same shot of a bee on all three tablets, we could see individual hairs on the new Nexus 7′s screen, where the other tablets’ only displayed fuzz. We could also make out more nuances in the pinks of the flower petals, too.
Similarly, in a photo of a cat’s face, we distinguish individual hairs and details in its eye much more on the new Nexus 7 than on other tablets. Above, the new Nexus 7 is in the middle, with the original Nexus 7 on the left, and the MemoPad HD 7 on the right.
The dual speakers on the new Nexus 7 also make a huge impact. While we watched the trailer for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” the audio was much louder and fuller than on the old Nexus 7 and the MemoPad HD, both of which have a single speaker.
The new Nexus 7′s 1.5-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor also dominated the competition. On the 3DMark Ice Storm benchmark, the new Nexus 7 scored 11,580, which simply crushes the MemoPad HD 7 score of 3,117, and the original Nexus 7 (3,408). In Quadrant, which measures overall performance, the new Nexus 7′s score of 4,949 is also a good deal higher than the MemoPad HD 7′s score of 3,414 and the original Nexus 7′s mark of 3,357.
We’ll run our full suite of benchmarks, as well as the LAPTOP Battery Test, when we publish our full review, but right now it’s fair to say we’re more than pleased with the performance of the new Google Nexus 7.