Google’s Nexus 7 Tablet Is The Best Way To Play Android Games

Google’s Nexus 7 Tablet Is The Best Way To Play Android Games

Your average Android phone is nice and portable, but the display sure is tiny. A full-sized Tegra tablet is a joy to work with, but a larger profile doesn’t make for hours of comfortable gaming. With its seven inch 1280×800 HD display, Google’s new mid-sized Tegra tablet is just the right size for hours of on-the-go gaming.

Google Plays Up Nexus 7 Tablet Gaming Chops
Nexus 7: Australian Hands-On

But what of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, or Barnes & Noble’s Nook? While both fall into the same size category and both are powered by Android, the Google Nexus 7 makes them look like children’s toys.

Google has given the likes of Amazon and Barnes & Noble enough time to mutilate its operating system into something nigh-unrecognizable. It’s time to show them how it’s done, and the Nexus 7 does just that.

Customers flocked to the Nook and the Fire, seeking the safety of established brands to ease their entry into the world of tablet computing. The devices were loaded with restrictive front-end interfaces meant to keep new users away from the more complicated aspects of Android. Both feature a shop with a limited selection of games and apps, places to purchase books and videos; they’re both very user-friendly.

The Nexus 7, slowly shipping out to eager consumers as I type, also features a streamlined front-end, but behind it is an unfettered Android tablet experience. You can purchase all the apps without having to game the system, giving you more time to game on the system instead.

The Nexus has the competition beat in terms of power as well. Fitted with a quad-core Tegra 3 processor and boasting 1GB of RAM, it’s almost a waste to pick one up unless you plan to take advantage of the latest Tegra HD games on offer. There are plenty of pieces of screen-covered plastic that can display books, stream movies or play music. I claim this tablet in the name of gaming. I probably don’t possess the power to do that, but here we are.

Most of my Android gaming these days is done on an Asus Transformer Prime, the fancy Tegra 3 tablet with the removable keyboard dock. And I love playing on it. It’s fast, the graphics are crisp and the touch screen is responsive. It’s ridiculously expandable, storage-wise. It’s unique docking feature draws attention.

It’s just not all that comfortable to hold it for hours on end while playing games. In its dock, or propped up in a stand with a USB gamepad attached, it’s wonderful. I wouldn’t call it portable.

Weighing in at three-quarters of a pound, the Nexus 7 is a device that longs to be held for extended periods. It was built for this, from its slim profile to the rubbery textured back panel that makes gripping the unit both easy and comfortable.

The firm grip really helps when your fingers are flying across the seven inch screen. Again, this is the perfect size for a touch screen tablet, at least for someone with slightly larger than average hands (hi!). It’s so small that half of the screen is obscured by your digits, and not so big that you can’t reach the middle of the display without holding the unit in one hand.

I made the same observation when the Kindle Fire first came out — I gamed on my Fire quite a bit — but ultimately the limited selection of games and lack of support and updates for many of the titles I did play left me cold.

The Nexus 7 doesn’t have that problem. If it’s on Google Play, chances are it’ll play.

And it’ll play well. I’ve been going through some of my old favourites (Muffin Knight) and a host of Tegra 3-powered titles on the Nexus 7, and so far it’s performed like a champ. The zombie shooter Dead Trigger; Diablo clone Heroes Call THD; Shadowgun; Dark Meadow: The Pact; all of these run gorgeously on the tablet.

In fact games seem to run better on the Nexus 7 than they do on my Transformer Prime, though that might just be a function of Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), the latest and fastest version of Google’s operating system.

The Nook and Kindle have their place; there are plenty of people that just want a little gaming in between chapters of their Game of Thrones eBooks. The Nexus 7 is sure to steal some of those customers away, but the true power of Google’s first table computer is the way it plays.

The Nexus 7 is available for purchase in Australia from Google for $249 (8GB) or $299 (16GB), as well as various other retailers.


  • I still don’t know why Google didn’t use the tablet interface, at least when running in landscape. Using an entire horizontal strip for 3 buttons is a huge waste.

    • First off are you one of the person that understand its appeal of being a 7 inch? The market is different than regular 10 inch tablets that requires both hands to hold and making it easier or better to use in landscape mode. From the weight of the nexus 7 and size of it, I see no point in holding it landscape mode except playing games. Also another market that nexus 7 trying to enter is an alternate book reader like kindle and nook. This bring us to another point, do you buy real books and read it landscape? 10 inch are able to do landscape mode to show 2 pages at the same time due to its size. 7 inchers can’t do that or you won’t be able to read the text at all.

      Don’t know if you understand the appeal or just comparing it to the usual iPad craze.

      • I think you missed his point.. In ICS without buttons on the device it has a big black bar going across the bottom to show back/home/whatever (think a start bar) that is always present.

    • Apparently it’s a new UI made for those midsize devices like 7″ tablets despite it looking near identical to the phone UI, if you really want to however you can edit your build.prop on the device to make it use the full tablet UI, being a Nexus device this should be pretty easy.

      I will probably be doing it to mine when it arrives today (YAY!) since that top bar is imo just a waste of space with the limited screen size and in landscape mode it looks hideous, reminds me of gingerbread tablets.

  • Has the author just forgotten the Galaxy Tab 7.7? A bit more pricey than the Nexus 7 but offers all the above advantages and outspecs it in several respects. SD card storage is particularly important given that a lot of the better Android games run to 1 GB now.

    • Outside of the larger internal storage and expandable memory (which I might add Android hasn’t properly supported since 3.0) it’s spec’d lower than the Nexus 7 in alot of other areas, the CPU being one of them, not only that but it has that horrible TouchWiz UI.

      Also being double the price I don’t think it fits in with the above mentioned tablets anyway, all of which are around the $200 mark (in the US at least).

      • Galaxy Tab 7.7 has a far better screen, expandable storage, 12+ hours battery life.

        Android 4.0 update is coming out this month.

        • I wouldn’t go as far to say that it has a better screen, both are quite nice but the Nexus does have higher pixel density (not by much but still), both I’d say are about on par and would come down to personal preference (Nexus: LCD, more natural colours or Tab: LED, more vivid/saturated colours).

          Expandable storage ok let’s count that as a plus.

          Battery life is relative to what you happen to be doing on the tablet, I don’t think everyone is going to be running video constantly with brightness maxed and WiFi on (or whatever it is they do to test battery life), you have to remember that the quoted battery life times generally aren’t for normal usage. Also the Tab 7.7 has a less powerful CPU while having a slightly bigger battery.

          Don’t forget that the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is near double the price of the Nexus 7 and on that alone I don’t know why anyone would pick another tablet of the same form factor over it, unless the lack of external storage is really that big of a issue, it simply cannot be beat at this time.

  • Looks like I made a good choice pre-ordering one of these. I’m a gamer but also want to use it for gps nav in the car and for my special needs toddler to use for communication and as an organizer/planner. We have a transformer which is great but too bulky for my little guy to manage his pecs programme on so a 7″ that is pretty much as good as the transformer is excactly what we need. I just hope I can pry it out of the boys hand long enough to make the most of the games.

  • Pity about the lack of a microSD slot.. it’s the only thing that makes me not want to buy this.

    I might end up going for a Samsung Tab 2 10.1 instead…

  • I have a One X, and was put off by the lack of SD.
    So I went mental loading the thing up with pics, games, music and books, and only ended up putting 6 gig’s on it. I would like more than 8gb, but 16 is quite comfortable, unless you like to watch movies on it.

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