New Nexus 7 review

Supercharged with Android 4.4, the Nexus 7 is now an even better tablet

New Nexus 7 review
New Nexus 7 review

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The Nexus 7 is primarily a media consumption device. Aside from my gripe about the difficulty holding and gripping it at times, the tablet is perfectly sized and weighted for you to cuddle up on the sofa and hold for reading or watching.

And this is what Google is banking on. The Nexus 7 should really be far more expensive than it is.

But Google's strategy here is to pile them high and sell them cheap whilst encouraging you to then buy into the ecosystem. Not just apps and games via the Play Store, but movies, TV, books and magazines.

New Nexus 7 review

There's been a huge push in recent years by Google to do this and it is obviously working well for the brand.

Different forms of entertainment are separated from each other. You'll go to one store to buy a magazine which you'll read within the app, while navigating to a different one for your music which will be streamed from the cloud into another app. Obviously, the common denominator here is that they're all interwoven with your Google ID.

It's a well stocked shop too - I had no complaints with the selection of movies and TV shows, which ranged from Wreck It Ralph to The Thick of It. £9.99 to buy a movie or £3.49 to rent it is on a par with what you'd pay on iTunes and there are always promotional bargains to be had - although let's be honest: it's still far too expensive when the DVD or Blu-ray is often cheaper.

Google's stock may not be as exhaustive as iTunes, but it's certainly not that far off.

And as for magazines and books, you'll find all of the top sellers in there, though you may struggle a bit for niche reads.

You'll also struggle if you go on a download spree - remember, that memory gets eaten up very quickly indeed.

New Nexus 7 review

There's one key difference here to the likes of other devices and that is - naturally - that Google only provides you with its stores. It's much easier this way.

If you buy a Samsung device, for example, you have Google's options for buying TV shows, movies, magazines, books and apps but then Samsung bundles its own stores too.

For the uninitiated, it's an overpopulated minefield and a mess. At least here, there is one place to go for your songs, one place to go to read and so forth.

That's not to say you can't add your own options. The first thing I did was download Amazon MP3 and Amazon Kindle so that I could load up my purchases made elsewhere.

But you need to know to do this. Google, as expected, won't actively encourage you to spend your hard-earned elsewhere. After all, it's sold you this Nexus 7 for a knock down price. It wants to get its profit somewhere.

New Nexus 7 review

Most people will watch their content with headphones (the sound quality is pretty good, and there's even a surround sound mode that gives you a little echo effect), but for those who like to annoy fellow tube passengers, you can now do so in stereo sound with the Nexus 7's dual speakers.

It's not going to rival a night out at the Odeon, but it's OK.

Google has a demo video called Debbie which shows a little girl on a swing and the sound is amazing. But on YouTube or music, it's not going to blow you away.

The sound is not too tinny, but it could be louder. I've been spoiled by BoomSound on the HTC One and this is one place that I just felt a little let down with the Nexus 7, since Asus seems to have gone to town in so many other ways. But, for the price, the sound could be a lot worse.

I would have loved to have mirrored my media with my smart TV but I couldn't find an easy way to do so without buying dongles or downloading myriad interconnected apps. There are ways to do it, but nothing the average tablet buyer would feel comfortable doing.

Having said that, Google's Chromecast dongle is proving very popular and full support for it has been added to Android 4.4. Stay tuned for TechRadar's review of how the two work together when Chromecast finally lands in the UK.

In the meantime, I found just using the third party iMedia HD app worked a treat for YouTube and gallery content and is even compatible with Apple TV and PS3. Good times.