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Review : Google Nexus 10

First impressions

The 10-inch Google Nexus 10 squares off against the iPad — and measures up well: with plenty of power, an eye-popping screen and the latest Android software, it’d be worth a look even if it wasn’t so much cheaper than Apple’s tablet.

Look out Apple: Samsung and Google are gunning for the iPad in a big way. They’ve joined forces to bring us the Nexus 10, a dual-core 10-inch Android tablet with a high-definition screen — and it’s cheaper than the iPad too.

Launched alongside the Nexus 4 phone and following the 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet, the Nexus 10 is built by Samsung and features Google’s Android software built-in.

That Nexus name is reserved for flagship phones and tablets that have a clean version of the Android software on-board, so no pesky extras have been added to slow the phone down. If you love being bang-up-to-date, a Nexus device is the way to go to ensure you’re first in line for new features and improved performance with each Android update.

The Nexus 10 can be bought from the online Google Play store for £320 for a 16GB model, or £390 for the 32GB version. That’s a saving of £80-£100 over the equivalent iPad.

Design and build

The Nexus 10 measures just 8.9mm thick and weighs in at 603g, which is lighter than the latest full-size Apple tablet. Fingers crossed that build quality is up to scratch — we’ll test that out in our in-depth review, coming soon.

Google Nexus 10 back

It’s a curvy, no-frills look with a matte finish.

It has a 10-inch screen with a whopping 2,560×1,600-pixel resolution. Although the resolution is higher than the iPad’s famous retina display, the screen is slightly larger, so the number of pixels per inch is slightly lower. Still, 300ppi is eye-poppingly crisp and will show off your high-definition movies, TV shows and games at their glorious best.

A big plus for the Nexus 10 is that the screen is 16:9, so there’s no black bars around movies and TV shows and they fill the screen completely. The iPad is 4:3, which means it has black bars — so what you gain in extra detail, you lose in the size of the movie.

Processor, battery and Wi-Fi

Under that gorgeous screen is a dual-core A15 processor and Mali T604 graphics chip, with 2GB of RAM. That’s a lot of power and should handle multiple apps without breaking a sweat, burning through games and videos with verve.

The risk of having that much grunt under the bonnet is that it will suck the battery dry before you can say “Jelly Bean”. Fortunately, the Nexus 10 boasts a suitably beefy 9,000mAh battery.

Google Nexus 10 Android 4.2

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is running the show.

It may have a powerful screen, processor and battery, but one thing missing is 3G. You’ll only be able to connect to the Web while out and about if you’re in a Wi-Fi hotspot, or if you tether to your phone and use your phone contract’s data allowance. When you do connect via Wi-Fi, the nexus 10 has multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) technology, which means there are multiple antennas to ensure the best possible connection to the Wi-Fi signal.

Happily, you can still watch movies, play games and do other offline stuff without having to connect to the Web. You can even read and write emails, safe in the knowledge they’ll be sent on their way the next time the tablet goes online.

That said, the original Google Nexus 7 tablet didn’t have a 3G option when it launched, but it does now. Perhaps in a few months the Nexus 10 will add 3G too. That’s pure speculation though.

With no 3G on board, it’s sadly inevitable that there’s no 4G either. The first UK 4G phone network has arrived at the same time as the Nexus 10, but there’s no super-fast network love for this tablet.

Software

As a Nexus tablet, the Nexus 10 is loaded with the latest Android software, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Unlike phones and tablets bought from phone networks or elsewhere, there are no extra apps or features added on top of the basic Android software.

That means you lose out on a few extra features, but also means you don’t have pointless phone network apps cluttering up the place — and most importantly, there’s nothing getting in the way when it comes time to receive the latest Android software updates before anyone else.

Android is based around homescreens you fill with shortcuts to your favourite apps, as well as widgets that show you snippets of information without opening the app.

Google Nexus 10 keyboard

One of the most useful everyday features of Android is the ability to change the keyboard.

Built-in apps include Google Maps, complete with turn-by-turn GPS navigation, live traffic info, and driving, walking and public transport directions. You can switch to a 3D map to fly over buildings or check out your destination with Street View and Indoor Maps.

More can be downloaded from Google Play, the online store filled with free or very cheap apps, movies, music, games and ebooks.

New features in Jelly Bean include Google Now, which essentially reads your mind, looking up information and presenting it before you even know you need it. Google Now works by checking your location and looking at your schedule. If your calendar says you have an appointment somewhere, For example, the phone looks at where you are and plans the best route to get you there — without you having to figure out a route for yourself. It even learns what team you support and keeps you updated on the scores automatically.

Probably the handiest new feature is the option to have different settings for different users. Tablets are likely to be shared around by everyone in the house, and now everybody can have their own user account — just turn on the tablet and tap your photo to sign in to your own homescreen with your own apps, email, photos and separate storage.

So you can sit back and let the kids play games and watch videos safe in the knowledge they won’t accidentally delete something crucial or stumble across one of your more private videos. And you don’t have to keep logging into Facebook because the other half keeps logging in to their account, or ignoring notifications that aren’t meant for you.

The Nexus 10 only has a 5-megapixel camera, just like the iPad. There’s a 1.9-megapixel camera in the front for video calls too.

Outlook

The Apple iPad is the best-selling tablet around, and no other Android tablets have mounted a serious challenge. But with cutting edge software and useful new features bursting out, the Nexus 10 could do just that. The lack of 3G could put some off, but at this price we’re very excited about the Nexus 10.

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4 Comments

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