Attractive soft-touch design; Ultra-sharp 2560 x 1600 resolution; Excellent audio; Fast overall performance; Charges via microUSB; Astounding Photo Sphere camera function; Long battery life
Tablet app selection small compared to iPad; Shallow viewing angles; No microSD slot; Uneven graphics performance
With a beautiful design, fast performance and sharper screen than the iPad, the Google Nexus 10 is a top-notch Android tablet.
It was only a matter of time until Google challenged the iPad head on. While the Nexus 7 is a low-cost tablet designed to consume content on the go, the new Nexus 10 enters the big-screen tablet wars with a display that's even sharper than the iPad's Retina display -- starting at $100 less. Running Android 4.2, the Nexus 10 ($399 for 16GB, $499 for 32GB) also offers robust photo editing features, a Siri-like Voice Search feature and -- soon -- the ability to give multiple family members their own profiles. Can the Nexus 10 beat the iPad at its own game?
If you're making the switch to the Google Nexus 10 from the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, brace yourself for an overwhelming sense of deja vu -- from the front, the Nexus 10 looks strikingly similar to Samsung's 10-inch tablet. In fact, the Nexus 10 is the brainchild of a partnership between Samsung and Google, and its pedigree definitely shows.
At 10.4 x 7 x 0.4 inches and 1.3 pounds, the Nexus 10 is fractions of an inch thinner than than the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 (0.4 inches thick, 1.3 pounds), and lighter than Apple's new iPad (0.4 inches thick, 1.4 pounds). The ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity's razor-thin dimensions (0.3 inches thick, 1.3 pounds) are about the same size.
A microUSB port and 3.5mm headphone jack are on the right side of the tablet, and a microHDMI port on the left. The power button and volume rocker sit up top (although not a microSD Card slot, a feature we sorely missed on the Nexus 7 as well). Thankfully, the Nexus 10 can be charged through its microUSB port, obviating the need to keep track of a proprietary docking connector.
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If technical specifications alone serve as a benchmark for display quality, the Nexus 10 outclasses every tablet on the market. With a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels, the tablet's 10.1-inch HD PLS display (durably constructed from Corning Gorilla Glass 2) boasts an astounding 300 pixels per inch. The ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity's 1920 x 1200-pixel display, by contrast, features a mere 224 ppi, while the vaunted 2048 x 1536 Retina display on the 3rd generation iPad is only 264 ppi.
The Nexus 10 suffers from somewhat limited viewing angles; we noticed that the colors became tinged with gray when we moved even a little bit to the side. Placing the tablet upright on the table didn't fix the issue; while watching Netflix on the couch with a small group of friends, people on both edges complained that the colors looked slightly washed out from wider angles. The tablet also isn't as bright as the competition: At 376 lux, the Nexus 10 falls behind both the iPad (386 lux) and the Transformer Pad Infinity (642 lux).
The Nexus 10 delivered audio that was powerful and accurate enough to watch a movie with a group of friends. When we watched a 10-minute clip of "The Avengers," the fight between Thor and Iron Man sounded as bone-rattling as if we were watching it on our laptop. When we listened to Iron Maiden's "Stranger in a Strange Land," Adrian Smith's driving guitar and Bruce Dickinson's swelling vocals easily filled our apartment. We especially appreciated having the speakers on the front of the tablet, as there was little chance of accidentally muffling the audio while holding the tablet in our hands.
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Android 4.2 Operating System and UI
The notification bar running along the top has been split into two. Swiping down from the left side of the screen brings down a list of notifications, which can be dismissed individually or expanded to see more information. Swiping down from the right launches up the Quick Settings menu, from which you can adjust the display brightness, view the battery life and enable or disable Wi-Fi, screen rotation, airplane mode and Bluetooth.
Google Now, Jelly Bean's card-based notification system, has also been updated with the switch to Android 4.2. In addition to information about the weather, traffic, sports box scores and appointments, the latest version includes cards that tell you about events and concerts nearby, top rated restaurants and bars in your neighborhood, reminders about hotel and flight reservations and popular photo opportunities if you're traveling.
Two new features will become available as an over-the-air update on November 13. The first is the ability to customize your lock screen by adding widgets for your calendar, email and other apps. Google promises that third-party widgets will be available as well.
The second major feature is the ability to share the device among multiple users. Called Multi Screen Sharing, this feature will allow several users to personalize the Nexus 10 according to their own tastes, including their own home screen, wallpaper, widgets, apps and app data (so your girlfriend won't get your "Angry Birds" score.) According to Google, users will be able to switch profiles without needing to log in and out each time.
Keyboard and Voice Search
Launching apps with our voice proved to be a cinch. We simply pressed the Voice Search button and said, "Launch Gmail." Voice Search responded aloud by saying "opening app" and then loaded our email. We could even specify recipients and compose messages using our voice. For instance, we could tell Voice Search to send a message to our mother by simply saying, "Send mail to Mom, Hi Mom!" The app has a difficult time recognizing unusual names, however.
Unfortunately, while we could open Netflix with our voice, when we tried to launch "Real Racer 2" Voice Search couldn't complete our request.
Scheduling meetings was similarly easy. When we said, "Schedule a meeting on December 21, 12:01 AM," Voice Search created an event at the correct date and time. We were a bit disappointed to discover that it doesn't know how to add our contacts as guests to the event. When we tried to schedule a meeting with several of our friends, Voice Search returned gibberish names.
Thanks to its discrete Mali T604 GPU, the Nexus 10 fared almost as well on our graphics benchmarks. When we ran An3DBench, the tablet racked up a healthy 7,813. This exceeds the category average by 500 points, as well as the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 (6,779). The Tegra 3-powered Transformer Pad Infinity fared slightly better, however, turning in a score of 7,937.
Still, the Nexus 10 can't compete with the 3rd generation iPad's lightning-fast A5X processor. On the GLB 2.5.1 benchmark app, which measures graphics performance, Google's tablet achieved an average frame rate of 42 fps, compared to 60 fps on the iPad. The iPad also outperformed the Nexus 10 on the Fill test, where it notched 1.9 billion texels per second to the Nexus 10's 1.35 billion.
We saw better performance when playing the third-person shooter "Shadowgun." Graphics rendered smoothly, although we noticed an odd artifact that briefly covered the left side of screen when the game loaded new environments. We're not sure if this occurs in every copy of the game or if it's unique to the Nexus 10. Thankfully, less graphically intensive games such as the arcade shooter "Metal Slug 3" ran without a hitch.
Our $499 configuration came with 32GB of storage space, although a 16GB version is available for $399.
Browsing on the Nexus 10 is also faster than before thanks to its integration of MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) Wi-Fi. This technology uses multiple antennas to boost wireless performance by as much as four times its normal speed. Web pages certainly loaded quickly -- the mobile version of ESPN appeared in 5 seconds, Space.com in 4 seconds and Laptopmag.com in just 2 seconds.
Apps and Content
Camera and Photo Editing
The 1080p video we captured with the rear-facing camera played smoothly and looked just as crisp as still images. Red and yellow leaves on the trees stood out in sharp relief as cars sailed north and south on the Henry Hudson Parkway. We were pleased to discover that tapping on the screen while filming allows you to capture photos simultaneously. Impressively, the front-facing camera also supports video with a maximum resolution of 720p.
More impressive is the new camera UI, which lets you browse, edit and share photos without leaving the camera app. Swiping left on the screen while in camera mode brings up a tiled list of your photos and videos. Tapping or pinch-to-zooming on a photo expands it to full size and brings up icons in the lower left and upper right of the screen for editing and sharing.
The camera app packs a fairly robust suite of editing tools. You can apply color effects such as black and white, vintage and lithograph, add borders designed to look like an old-school film roll and adjust settings such as exposure, sharpness and saturation. Once you've edited your photos, you can share them instantly via Gmail, Bluetooth, Google+ or Picasa.
Thanks to its 9,000-mAh lithium polymer battery, the Nexus 10 packs enough juice to last a full work day on a charge. When we ran the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous surfing on the Web via Wi-Fi), the tablet lasted 8 hours and 18 minutes. This exceeds the both the tablet average (6:54) and the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity (7:39). The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 outlasted the Nexus 10 with its epic 9 hour and 59-minute battery life, while the 3rd Generation Apple iPad remains in a class of its own with a battery life of 10 hours and 4 minutes.
VerdictApple's tablet still has the best display we've seen on a tablet and a much larger selection of apps optimized for slates.
Among Android tablets, the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700T is another strong choice because it has an optional keyboard and offers slightly better graphics performance, but its display has a lower resolution. More important, ASUS' tablet starts at $499 for 32GB. At least Google gives you a 16GB option for $399. Overall, the Nexus 10 is a very good deal for the performance and specs you get for the money.
|CPU||Dual-core A15 Eagle|
|Storage Drive Size||16GB|
|Storage Drive Type|
|Display Resolution||2560 x 1600|
|Graphics Chip||Mali T604|
|Front-Facing Camera Resolution||1.9MP|
|Card Reader Size|
|Warranty / Support|
|Size||10.39 x 6.99 x 0.35 inches|