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If you believe the rumors, we're on the brink of seeing a brand new Google Nexus tablet -- one with a nearly 9-in. screen, an all-aluminum body, and HTC as its manufacturer.
The notion is certainly intriguing. Google has partnered up with a variety of companies to give us standout "pure Android" tablets in recent years, and combining Google's software instincts with HTC's design chops could make for a very compelling device.
With the prospect of a new Nexus ahead of us, I thought it'd be a good time to take a fresh look at the current Google Nexus tablet -- the Asus-made Nexus 7 (2013 model). The Nexus 7's been out for just over a year now, which is enough to feel like an eternity in our fast-moving mobile tech world.
I bought the new Nexus 7 shortly after its release last summer and have had it in my home, hands, or backpack ever since. So a year after its arrival, how has the tablet held up?
Some scattered thoughts:
• No two ways about it: The Nexus 7 is still my favorite tablet on the market today. Like Motorola's Moto X, it doesn't have the most premium-looking design -- but what it does have is a warm and comfortable form that's a pleasure to use.
The tablet's soft-touch plastic backing feels great to the touch. It's proven to be durable, too, with no degradation in quality over the past year -- and while it may be a bit on the plain side in terms of design, it's still a million times better looking than the cheap- and chintzy-looking products at the top of the Android tablet market today.
• Combined with its thin and light profile, the tablet's 7-in. size makes it small enough to hold comfortably in a single hand. Heck, I can even fit the thing in my pocket. Whenever I test other tablets, the Nexus 7 is always refreshing to return to partially for that reason.
I used to be pretty skeptical about the 7-in. tablet size, but this gadget and its predecessor have absolutely won me over. It's a nice balance of screen space and comfort -- something I very much miss when I use a larger tablet.
• Speaking of the Nexus 7's predecessor, that tablet -- the original 2012 model -- made a good first impression but started to show its age quickly after its release. A big part of that was due to the device's performance: For whatever reason, the original Nexus 7 started to feel sluggish after you'd used it for a while. There were plenty of theories as to why, but what mattered from a consumer perspective was that the tablet just wasn't as fast as it needed to be.
The current Nexus 7 is a different story. The tablet is still speedy as can be and no less responsive than when I first got it. Even with the advances we've seen in mobile processing technology over the past months, it remains one of the smoothest and snappiest devices around.
• Another area where the Nexus 7 has outlasted its predecessor is in the realm of display quality. The original Nexus 7's screen was okay but not great -- and a year after its release, many of us found ourselves jonesing for something a little bit better.
With its 323-pixel-per-inch 1080p display, the current Nexus 7 remains a treat for the eyes. You can talk about Quad HD all day, but for a device of this size, full HD resolution looks fantastic and is every bit as impressive now as it was a year ago.
• Software continues to be an area where the Nexus 7 shines. Review after review will tell you the same thing about today's leading Android tablets: They're held back by bloated, ugly, and overly ambitious software.
Being a Nexus device, the Nexus 7 runs an unmodified version of Google's Android software -- which means it's clean, simple, and intuitive. And beyond that, it actually gets updates fast and frequently. When the meaty Android "L" release hits this fall, that'll be an enormous benefit of this device compared to most manufacturers' efforts.
All considered, a year later, there's really very little to complain about with the Nexus 7 -- especially when you consider its $229 price tag. It may not be the newest gadget on the block, but when a friend or family member asks for a personal recommendation, it's still the one I most frequently suggest.
Now let's see if/when the rumored HTC-made sequel arrives -- and if it manages to maintain the tradition.
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