Tablets Guide

Google Nexus 10 review

Google Nexus 10 - A Step in the Right Direction

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Introduction and Physique

Google's Answer to Apple's iPad

Instantly snapped up within hours upon its November 2012 release, the Nexus 10 – Google’s first self-branded 10-inch tablet and, thus, the company's first official direct response to the Apple iPad – has been subject to much hype since rumors of its development hit the tech industry grapevine. In fact, the Nexus 10 remains a rather hard-to-find commodity to this day, given relatively limited stocks globally and, even more so, unofficial availability on our shores.

So is all the attention merited? Should you even bother looking for one for yourself? Let's go get answers to these questions as we take a closer look through this review.

The Nexus 10 is the product of another collaborative effort between Google and Samsung, one of the former’s most prolific and most successful Android OEM partners over the years. It primarily boasts of the best screen in the mobile market today, with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 (300ppi), which trumps that of the 2012 iPads’ Retina display (2048 x 1536, 264ppi). On top of that, it also brandishes the rich features of the Android 4.2 Jellybean update out of the box. Below is a quick summary of the Nexus 10's highlight specifications, alongside those of Apple's latest generation iPad, also released late last year.

  Google Nexus 10 Apple iPad (4th Gen, 2012)
Processor Dual Core Cortex-A15 (1.7GHz), Samsung Exynos 5250 Chipset Apple Dual-Core A6X (1.4GHz)
 GPU Mali-T604  PowerVR SGX 554MP4 
 Memory 2GB RAM   1GB RAM
Storage  16/32GB (Internal only)   16/32/64GB (Internal only)
Display Resolution  2560 x 1600  2048 x 1536 

View from the Outside

Physically, the device is pleasingly sleek, at just 8.9mm thin, and light, weighing in at 603 grams. Its shape reminds us more of the recent high-end Samsung Galaxy smartphones (S III, Note 2) than previous Galaxy tablets, given its rounded corners and curvy contours. (Its mold appears to have been followed through to a more recent, albeit physically smaller product, though — the Galaxy Note 8.0.)

Due to its mostly plastic construction, the Nexus 10 lacks a premium feel that some users tend to look for, but let’s not forget that Nexus devices have always been deliberately value-for-money options.

 

Deviating from its typical glossy plastic builds, Samsung opted to use matte plastic for the device's main chassis, which practically makes up most of the rear panel. This material, while relieving users of smudges and fingerprint issues, actually feels sticky to a certain extent, and may instead be prone to dust and small fibers. Still, we really like the Nexus 10's minimalist, all-black look. We think it exudes its own unique air of seriousness and classiness that's distinct from those exhibited by its glossy and/or aluminum-clad peers from Android, iOS, and other tablet platform camps alike.

It's also worth noting that while the main rear panel of the device is not removable, there's a detachable strip of plastic (bedimpled, similar to the back cover of the Google Nexus 7) which serves no other purpose at the moment than to conceal the Nexus 10's product information markings. Various online sources have said that this removable panel is there to accommodate an upcoming folio/smart cover-like accessory, but whether or not Nexus 10 users get to see such a cover anytime soon, we like how it also served as a workaround to keep the back cover clean and free from any product/brand-related fine print.

The device's main attraction, its 10-inch, ultra high-res 2560 x 1600 Super PLS TFT display is a 300ppi thing of beauty protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 2, lending more confidence to the Nexus 10's build quality where its plastic housing falls short. This screen is flanked on opposite sides (when held in the horizontal/landscape orientation) by stereo speakers reminiscent of those on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.

Only two physical buttons can be found on the Nexus 10 — the power/screen lock button and the two-way volume rocker. Both are found by the top left corner of the device when held horizontally. It appears that the Nexus 10 was designed mostly with use in this orientation in mind, as the volume rocker corresponds primarily to this configuration, such that when you hold the tablet vertically (placing the buttons on the upper right portion), the volume controls work in reverse (i.e. pressing up decreases the volume, while pressing down increases it). This is, of course, just a minor niggle that probably only a few users will find annoying and that hopefully can be resolved through a future software update.

Ports-wise, you'll find three on the Nexus 10. A pair of them are readily usable, namely, the micro-USB 2.0 and micro-HDMI slots on opposite sides (again, in the horizontal orientation). The third is a pogo pin connector placed at the bottom, for which neither Google nor Samsung has announced or released any official accessories (i.e. docks, chargers) as of the time of writing. The Nexus 10 supports USB OTG (on-the-go) functionality, but you'll need to get a cable for that (as well as the HDMI cable) separately, as only a micro-USB data/charging cable is supplied out of the box.

Wirelessly, the Nexus 10 connects via Wi-Fi b/g/n networks only, with no clear word on any mobile data-supporting models due out any time soon. You do also get Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, and NFC support.