Last year Google released its first official mid-sized Android tablet, the Nexus 7. I called it "The Best Way to Play Android Games." We can throw that one out now. The new Nexus 7 is here, and its better in every way possible.
Asus has done an outstanding job of refining Google's flagship Android tablet. It's thinner, lighter, sleeker, and generally easier to hold. It's got the same rubberised rear finish that made the original such a grippy little gaming machine, without the weird golf club grip texture its predecessor was sporting. After handling the new Nexus 7, the older model feels primitive.
And of course it's more powerful. It's ditched Nvidia's Tegra 3 chip in favour of a 1.5 GHz quad core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor. It's got 2GB of RAM, twice that of the first Nexus 7.
It's an incredibly speedy tablet, which is reflected in every game I play. Ubisoft's Rayman's Jungle Run gave my old Nexus 7 stuttering fits at times — here it's smooth and silky and incredibly hard to put down.
The biggest improvement is the screen. The original might as well be an old tube television in comparison to the glorious 1920 x 1200 WUXGA screen. It's bright, crisp, and sharp — the sharpest I've seen on an Android device.
Note in the video here I keep calling the screen 1920 x 1080. Old habits.
What else? It's got a rear camera — not a good one, but considering the original didn't have one at all, it's an improvement. Dual front speakers provide true stereo sound, which isn't something you see every day.
Gizmodo has an excellent analysis of the hardware in their review of the 2013 Nexus 7, so I won't get too deep into its innards. What I'm concerned with is gaming performance, and so far I've been incredibly impressed. With Android 4.3 adding OpenGL ES 3.0 support, the 2013 Nexus 7 is ready to take on anything Android game developers can throw at it.
If the original Nexus 7 was the sweet spot for Android gaming, the 2013 version is the sweeter spot. That leaves "sweetest" for the 2014 version. After that, I got nothing.