Google finally released the Nexus 7 here in Germany and now a lot of people ask me if I can recommend it as an android gaming device. So let’s take a look under the hood of the newest device from Google. I ordered the 8GB version, because I thought that would suffice since it’s enough on my phone. Boy was I wrong, since I always used big SD cards I never realized how much space the additional data that is outsourced there takes up. In reality the 8GB version gives you 5.5 GB to install stuff and if you hit 500MB you get a warning that some services won’t sync anymore. So you have 5GB and the limit for games on the Android market is 2GB, go figure. You can’t install more than 2 or 3 big games on the device and since you will probably want to play high end Tegra games on it, you will uninstall and reinstall the games a lot. I doubt that even the 16GB Version would be big enough for daily usage for me, but at least you could install a handful of different games on it. I’ll also do this review before I root the device, because that is how most users will use their device. Root would bring additional features like the ability to use Joypads per Bluetooth or screen recording, but it can’t fix some hardware problems on the device.
The Nexus 7 is a beautiful device, it has a great form factor and feels solid. The IPS screen delivers crisp colors and is very sharp, the 1280Î800 resolution on a 7″ display is really something special at the low price point of 199ÔéČ. The battery runtime is a lot higher than on most android devices that I have seen, which is partly due to the missing GSM module. Sadly the sound of the device leaves a lot to be desired, since you are supposed to use it mostly in portrait mode the speaker is positioned on one side, so your sound will come from the right in landscape mode. The speakers are also not very good, your average Samsung / HTC phone will sound way better.
The Tegra 3 processor is the star of the show here, it really pushes the boundaries on what you can expect from mobile games. If you play the newest generation of games that support it, you will sorely miss the graphical fidelity if you play them without the enhancements. It’s a powerful GPU and Tegra 3 will be heavily supported in the future. For example the new Unity 4 engine has a Tegra profiler built in, which will result in heavily optimised games for this chipset.
But there are also some serious drawbacks on the device, which is mostly stuff that had to be cutted to reach such a low price point. There is no haptic feedback/rumble in the device. This is something that isn’t that tragic, but it takes away a little bit of the immersion. What’s a bigger problem is that you can’t use USB On-The-Go fully, it’ll work with some devices as USB Host (e.g. Joypads), but you can’t use e.g. a USB Harddrive as external memory to install games on.
And the biggest problem – there is no MHL. For a device that is so perfect for gaming, this is a huge drawback. If it had MHL, it would be a fully functional Android console, but without it we’ll have to wait for some third party solutions like Xbounds until we can beam our Display to the TV.
This is a Nexus device. If it comes to Android software, there won’t be anything better in the next 15 months. The device came out at the end of June in America and like all Nexus devices it will have the newest Android version for 18 months guaranteed. There is no bloatware and rooting the device couldn’t be easier. If you want the real Android experience, this tablet has it. Also the sales of this device will be so high, that it will be one of the best supported android devices in the Play Store.
Instead of talking about it, I think it’s time to show you videos of current High-end Android games.
Horn is the new Holy Grail in the Android games library. It looks absolutely stunning on Tegra 3 devices and the gameplay and controls are top notch. It ran absolutely smoothly before I got to under 500 MB, now there are some random hiccups, but all in all it still runs smoothly with all effects.
Play Store Link
Here’s one of my favorite shmups in portrait mode, I waited a long time for this game to be released and just when I started to write this article, Cave finally published it in the Play store. As you can see, the Nexus 7 is very good for portrait games, but you should hold the device in your hands with hectic games like this one.
There is a Demo on the Play Store, should you wonder if it’s worth the premium price.
Here’s one of the best adventures on Android. It doesn’t fill the screen entirely because of the format, but as you can see, it still looks beautiful.
The Nexus 7 is a wonderful device, you won’t find anything close to the quality at the moment with such a low price point. Since it’s vanilla Android (without any modifications) and a lead device (Nexus line), it’ll be supported for a long time and will have the newest Android version for quite a while. It plays all games in the best version. If you want it as a handheld device, there is no question that you should get it, it works perfectly for that purpose. Just don’t expect to hook it up to a TV for console quality gaming anytime soon, if it’ll be possible at all.
You can order one direct from Google or get it in your nearest electronic store on September 3rd.