Google Nexus 10 Review: It's Very Pretty

Back in June, Google launched the Nexus 7 tablet. It was as fast as most high-end tablets and it only cost $249. It was a major hit. But not everybody is sold on the seven-inch form factor yet. Which is why the Nexus 10 is here to steal your hearts.

NOTE: At the time of our testing, the tablet's software was very nearly finished, but it was not yet final. This means that the results are subject to change with extended testing. The finished build will be pushed to devices before they go on sale. We will update with any changes.

Why It Matters

As mentioned in our Nexus 4 review, it's a Nexus. Not only is it the latest version of Android, it is pure Android. No third party UI's gumming things up. It's direct from the source. The Nexus 10 is the first device to get Android 4.2 (still called Jelly Bean), along side the Nexus 4 phone. Google tapped Samsung to make the hardware and it may just be the nicest bit of mobile kit the company has ever produced.

Using It

The first thing you'll notice is just how bright and incredibly sharp the screen is. Then you'll pick it up and it just feels incredibly thin. At 8.9mm it's a full half-millimetre thinner than the current generation iPad, though it isn't quite as thin as some others (such as the ASUS Transformer Infinity). It feels extremely solid and well-built. The back panel is a hard plastic that has been rubberized in a really interesting way. It's very smooth, but very grippy at the same time. 

In landscape mode, two long, thin speakers face you from either side of the screen. They pump out a terrific amount of sound. Music was pretty clear even at full volume, and when playing the game Dead Trigger, full volume was actually too loud. You don't often have that problem in a tablet, and it's a welcome one. It also has NFC and a 5MP rear-facing camera, two features you aren't likely to use on a tablet, but whatever. 

Android 4.2 is terrific on this thing. In fact, it's even clearly what a big step it is on the Nexus 10 than it is on the Nexus 4. One thing that Android has lacked in the past is consistency and flow. It is now much more streamlined, intuitive, and it really takes advantage of the added screen real estate. For instance, rather than bundling settings and notifications together in a cluttered mess, they've been separated. Swipe down from the top-left of the screen and it brings down the notification panel. Swipe down from the top-right, and it brings down the quick settings. It's a subtle change, but there are a lot of them and they add up.

Not all aspects of 4.2 were live yet in the version we tested. By the time it launches it will have support for different profiles. So, if your tablet lives in your living room, you and your partner (or roommates, or kids) can all have separate profiles. Got a friend in from out of town? You can just set up a guest profile so he can check his email. It's a nice feature (we've seen it on other tablets), but we haven't tested it yet.

Like

The screen! The screen the screen the screen. It is simply gorgeous. At 10 inches and 300ppi it's bigger and far higher resolution than the new retina iPads. 2560 x 1600 means more than four million pixels. That is absolutely insane. 1080p video looks terrific on it. I slapped some high resolution photos on there and they are astonishingly clear. Add the excellent speakers to the equation and this device is killer for watching videos and playing games. Very immersive. 

As I mentioned in our Nexus 4 review, the new Gallery app is wonderful and it's even better on a tablet. It's still easy to use for simply viewing photos, but if you want you can dive in extremely deep, tweaking your photos with pro-level features. 

Project Butter is alive and well. Scrolling around the system is very fast and very smooth. It's a really pleasing user experience. Google Now is getting much more useful now that it can pull package tracking info, flights, hotels, and restaurant reservations directly out of your Gmail (should you choose to allow it). The voice input and speech-to-text entry is still second to none.

We got excellent battery life despite very heavy use and having the screen maxed out at full brightness. The tablet also has a micro HDMI port, which makes streaming video to an HDTV very easy.

No Like

Again, this software was not yet final. That said something was wrong with the radio on my device. It had major problems staying connected to my Wi-Fi router and when it did, I got downloads came through at 1/5th the speed of the computer next to it. I tried it on a friend's network and couldn't get it to connect at all. I spoke to Google about it, and its rep told me, "it sounds like a problem we've isolated and will be fixed with the OTA that will be pushed with the consumer launch on 11/13". Here's hoping. At the same time, Gizmodo Editor-In-Chief Joe Brown had zero problems with radio connectivity on his home network, with speeds equal to or exceeding his MacBook Pro. It's possible that mine was a dud. We'll be doing more testing and will report back, but this was easily the tablet's biggest flaw.

Second biggest flaw? While the 1.7GHz dual-core Exynos 5 processor is more than capable for most tasks, when it gets down to heavy graphics loads, things start getting choppy. For example, when playing Dead Trigger (I love that game!) you can choose the level of graphics details. When it was set to Low, the Nexus 10 had no problems at all, and the game still looks really good. But if you turn it to High to see all of the flourishes, suddenly things start getting really choppy and jumpy when there are multiple moving objects on the screen. Meanwhile the Nexus 7 (which has a quad-core Tegra 3 clocked at 1.3GHz) had the graphics turned to Ultra High, and it didn't miss a beat. Generally speaking, more cores equals more parallel processing, which is which graphically intensive games need. Seems like a miss here, especially when Samsung is putting quad-core Exynos processors in the Galaxy Note II. If you're not a hardcore gamer, however, you won't notice or care.

You hear this argument a lot, "There just aren't enough tablet-optimised Android apps." While I think we can safely say there are more than enough, it's certainly true that the iPad has more tablet-optimized apps available for it. Some apps are just not set to scale, leaving a rather ridiculous-looking scene (see above). Also, this tablet could have been a photographer's best friend, offering an instant, 'retina' quality look at his or her photos, and a powerful way to make some quick edits and share shots (via Gallery). Which is why the lack of an SD card slot is a shame. 

Should I Buy It?

If the radio issue I experienced was a fluke, then very probably. For watching videos, browsing the web, viewing images, and casual gaming, this is simply the best tablet out there, and at $400, it's a good deal cheaper than the iPad. That said, gaming fanatics may want to drop the extra cash on a ten-incher with a quad-core processor, or sacrifice screen size and get the Nexus 7, which has the Tegra 3 and will be updated to Android 4.2 in the weeks to come (and only costs $200).

For now, since Joe didn't have any radio problems, we're going to give the tablet the benefit of the doubt and give it four stars. It's a very luxurious tablet and an extremely competitive price. It's like the Nexus 7 has a fancier big brother. Whether that fanciness is worth an extra $200 is up to you. We can concretely say that it's easily the best Android tablet experience we've had.

The Nexus 10 will be available November 13, at Google Play. The 16GB model will be $469, and the 32GB model will be $569. We'll be updating once the software is final, and star rating is subject to change.

Nexus 10 Specs

• Network: Wi-Fi • OS: Android 4.2  • CPU: 1.7-GHz dual-core Exynos processor  • Screen: 10-inch 2560 x 1600 WQXGA, HD PLS (300ppi)  • RAM: 2GB  • Storage: 16GB or 32GB • Camera: 5MP rear / 1.3MP front  • Battery: 9000mAh • Price: $469/16GB, $569/32GB (Google Play• Giz Rank: 4.0 stars


Comments

    The Nexus 4 is the first device to get Android 4.2 (still called Jelly Bean), along side the Nexus 4 phone. ..

    ...You mean the Nexus 10

    Same with editors note "phone". Cut and paste?

    Isn't the Nexus 7's Tegra clocked at 1.3ghz not 1.5ghz?

    I'd not compare the Quad-Core Cortex ARM A9 Galaxy Note 2 vs the Dual Core Cortex A15 Nexus 10 side by side as you seem to be doing. The issue why games might be a tad slow is because of the screen resolution difference, which is staggering (almost 4x), and the GPU probably doesn't have enough power (or is being limited to maintain battery life) to push so many pixels at picture perfect 60fps. Benchmarking has proved that the Mali T604 GPU is an amazing piece of silicon...

      Which is why I think Tegra might have been a better choice, as it should conserve battery power from using an SoC instead of a separate CPU and GPU (as well as the fifth low power core), and more GPU cores (the T604 only has 4 cores, wheras the Tegra 3 has 8 pixel shade units).

      I get the feeling Samsung don't really have their heart in it when it comes to making Nexus devices, they seem to keep putting better hardware in their non-Nexus stuff. Which is great for the Note and Galaxy S lines, but not so great for unskinned Android.

        Mate, there is no piece of silicon that I'd rather have on this tablet than that Exynos Cortex A15 chip. Tegra 3 on this tablet would have been a disgrace.
        Have a look at the benchmarks here: http://www.anandtech.com/show/6425/google-nexus-4-and-nexus-10-review

          "there is no piece of silicon that I'd rather have on this tablet than that Exynos Cortex A15 chip." According to those benchmarks you're attributing to that statement, I would of thought you'd rather an A6X.

        Tegra 3 can't physically support this resolution and even if it did it would run at about 1/4 of the framerate. Trust me exynos 5 is by far the fastest processor available to android right now. Personally I think performance will improvewith future updates, the mali 400 was pretty slow when it first launched but ended up being the fastest of the last gen gpus.

    First off its $399 for a16gb and $499 for a32gb confirmed by google play itself second off Ideas trigger has not been optimized for the N10 yet it will blow the tegra 3 away when it is .the exynos dual core chip is better than most quad cores and the GPU is top of the line .

      Hey awoodx,

      Going by this link (https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=nexus_10_16gb&feature=microsite), I'm seeing AU$469 and AU$569 respectively.

      The euro prices (according to Google Play) are €399 and €499 respectively - showing that European users are again being shafted by manufacturers. Although, at a price hike of €100 (or even $100) for the 32GB model, all buyers of the high capacity device are being shafted. €100 for 16GB memory is just taking the piss.

    Hey guys,

    Sorry for the errors and thanks for the reports. I've made the corrections.

    Just to clarify something... Google Play means that I'm going to have to order this beastie online I'm guessing? I'm going to be selling my iPad 3, I'm just not feeling it any more. I want to move away from apple (android phone, PC and want an android tablet now). So after selling it, I have to order this online only? I noticed JB Hifi selling the revised Nexus 7s, is there any chance they'll get these?

      electronic stores like JB Hifi would eventually sell them but it would take some time.
      if you want the tablet immediately then buy it online is the way to go

      Even if JB Hifi sells it, the price won't be same as the Google Play's. Check N7's current price at JB!

    Hey guys I live in a The US here it will cost $399 US Dollars and $499 US Dollars respectively as per Google Play store

    Thanks for the link Logan booker I clicked your link and it shows the prices I quoted .but I realize now I believe we're both right US.models are the $399 etc..my bad :)

    Hey Logan, when you say "1080p video looks terrific on it", did you watch it in a window or full-screen? I'd be very sceptical that it really looks terrific full-screen, as it would have to scale 1:1.33 and TFT panels just don't do that very well. That's why I think it makes sense for a media consumption device to be 1920x1080, so that you can watch HD video full-screen at 1:1.

    "You hear this argument a lot, “There just aren’t enough tablet-optimised Android apps.” While I think we can safely say there are more than enough, it’s certainly true that the iPad has more tablet-optimized apps available for it. "

    Are we using the same operating system? I have both an iPad and two Android tablets, and I am telling you that there are not 'more than enough' tablet apps for Android.

      I think its a YMMV thing. Someone like yourself that operate on both the Android and iOS ecosystem would probably feel the lack of tablet optimised apps a lot strongly than people who only have one piece of the experience.
      Not to mention this is an early review thing - i assume theres not enough hands on time or proper day to day usage experience to chime into.

    What's with the headline: "It's very pretty"

    Sorry it's butt ugly. Looks like a first gen tablet.

    Reading the criticism of its ability to handle graphics intensive games, I'm happy I bought my Asus Transformer Infinity. I hope Android 4.2 gets released for it soon though, I like the idea of the multiple logins.

    Im curious as to why the iPad mini review didnt have a star rating on it like this review does.

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