When Google launched the Asus-built Nexus 7 Android tablet back in August 2012 it put the cat among the budget tablet pigeons in a big way. Starting at only £160 the Nexus 7 offered power, style and build quality at a price that previously had bought you only no-name tat with a gutless chip and dodgy provenance. Now Google has released a Mark 2 Nexus 7, again made by Asus, so the question is, can lightning strike twice?
The first thing to note is that the new Nexus is a big improvement in every single area. The 7 inch screen now has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 rather than 800 x 1200 for the pixel density has jumped from 216dpi to 323dpi. That makes it one of the sharpest, crispest tablet displays on the market at any price, let alone for £199 which is that the 16GB Nexus 7 will now set you back.
The screen is still a high quality IPS affair with a Gorilla Glass front so it's tough, bright, has excellent viewing angles and is very colourful. Frankly it's hard to fault.
The Nexus has been put on a diet too. The original weighed 340g, the new one just 290g. It is also the best part of 2mm thinner and 6mm narrower while near enough the same height. It feels and looks a more solid and high quality device too which is no mean achievement as the original was a pretty decent bit of kit to hold and look at.
While the first Nexus 7 only has a 1.2MP webcam the new model adds a 5MP main camera. How much use a camera on a tablet actually is can only a matter for discussion but like a gun or a condom it's better to have one and not need it than the other way about. As 5MP cameras go the Nexus 7's shooter isn't bad though there's no LED flash.
One of the major problems with the first Nexus 7 was the wholly gutless loudspeaker by the new model Nexus 7 features dual stereo speakers and a surround sound system designed by Fraunhofer (the folks who invented the MP3 audio codec if you are interested). The new speaker arrangement is a massive improvement.
There's no need to talk too much about the operation system, being a Nexus-branded Google device it runs pure, unadulterated Android - now in version 4.3 - and updates are rolled out directly from Google not via the manufacturer. It's worth mentioning how much Android has evolved in the last 18 months. If you only know it from its 2.something days you will be stunned to see how it has come on in terms of features, design and usability.
Inside the old Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset has been replaced by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro component with a quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait chip, 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 320 graphics processor. It's a combination that makes the new N7 as fast and as powerful as any tablet on the market including the likes of the iPad 4 and Sony Xperia Tablet Z.
One thing that hasn't changed is the absence of a memory card slot though with the 32GB model only costing £239 that's not that much of a problem. At the time of writing a price has yet to announced for the 32GB 3/4G model which is rumoured to support traditional cellular voice calls. If that proves to be true the new Nexus 7 could replace your current phone and tablet with one device. Nice.
Verdict: So, has lightning struck twice? Oh yes. The new Nexus redefines how much tablet you can expect for under £200 just as the original did. In every single measurable way the new model is a massive step forward on the old and easily deserves the title of the Best Tablet....in the World.
Price: £199 (16GB) £239 (32GB)
Google UK's Nexus 7 page