V3 managed to get some hands-on time with the Nexus 7, Google's first own-brand tablet device, manufactured for the firm by Asus.
Ahead of our full review, we're offering our opening impressions of the device and its new version of the Android platform, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Design and build
With the 8GB model available for pre-order for a modest £159 and the 16GB for £200, what kind of build quality buyers would see was one of our initial concerns.
But having actually held the Nexus 7, we have to say we were amazed at how sturdy the device felt, with its metal lining, glass front and textured plastic back all feeling like they could take a few accidental knocks.
Additionally, the device is small enough to fit into even the tiniest of satchels or handbags, measuring in at 97x120x10.5mm and weighing 340g.
Thanks to this, and to its chrome lining and textured rear finish, the device not only looks more expensive than it is, but was also very comfortable to hold.
In fact, during our time with it we were easily able to navigate the Nexus 7's new magazine and e-book features one-handed - though we're used to using plus-sized smartphones.
The Google Nexus 7 features a 7in 1280x800 touch-screen, which Asus told us is built using a unique One Glass Solution that improves its responsiveness and clarity.
We wouldn't put it on a par with the super high resolution Retina Display seen on Apple's new iPad, but having tested the device in bright sunlit conditions we were impressed how well the screen performed.
Even in the less than ideal lighting conditions of the demo room, we found the Nexus 7's screen remained crisp and legible, letting us read pages and navigate the device without the need for squinting. When we tried using our Xoom 2 in the same conditions, we found ourselves struggling to read the Motorola tablet's screen.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is one of the Nexus 7's key selling points. The device is the first ever to be released running this software, and from what we've seen it is a major improvement, containing a streamlined user interface that makes the OS much easier to navigate than previous Android versions.
One of the most notable changes to the UI is the Google Play store's increased presence, with the Nexus 7's main homepage including a number of shortcut widgets to various pre-loaded purchases.
Additionally, having slyly got our Google Account live on the demo product, we got to experience its new Google Play Recommendation features, with the device instantly throwing us a slew of app and book recommendations - many of which were actually of interest.
The device's Chrome web browser is another key feature that caught our eye. The unit is the first to come pre-loaded with Chrome and from what we've seen it is a marked step up from the old Android Browser.
During our brief tests, Chrome easily managed to load multiple web pages across numerous tabs in a matter of seconds - even when running on the demo room's flaky Wi-Fi.
The Nexus 7 packs a hefty 1.2GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, and we must confess to being amazed that the company managed to use this high-end chip without pushing the Nexus 7's price.
Though we didn't get a chance to really push the processor to its limits during our hands on, the device felt incredibly fast and responsive, reacting to our commands instantaneously with zero chug. In our full review, we're looking forward to seeing just how far we can push the device.
In terms of storage, the device doesn't feature a microSD card slot, meaning that you can't upgrade its internal 8GB or 16GB of storage - something we think may become annoying considering the device's emphasis on content.
No rear camera
Asus openly admitted to us that it had been forced to leave the Nexus 7 without a rear facing camera in order to keep it in its ultra-affordable sub-£200 price bracket.
Instead the device simply has a 1.2MP front facing camera, that we didn't really get a chance to test during our hands-on. We're looking forward to checking how it deals with video calls and the Face Unlock feature for our full review.
Though we didn't get nearly as long as we'd like with the Nexus 7 we have to say our opening impressions were incredibly positive.
We're amazed that Asus and Google have managed to create such an impressive looking device that features quad-core technology and a super crisp high-definition screen that sells for a mere £159. Check back with V3 later in July for a full review of the Google Nexus 7.
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