Review: Nexus 10 tablet is a solid choice for the price

November 8, 2012 by Salvador Rodriguez
nexus 10

With impressive specs, the Nexus 10 seems like a special tablet, at least on paper. When put through a real-world test, Google's latest tablet performed well for the price but not enough to brag about to friends.

The Nexus 10 is the flagship high-end Android tablet of the season. It has a starting price of $399 for a 16- model and features a 10-inch screen with a 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution and 300-pixel-per-inch () density.

It sounds like a better deal than what you get from Apple for its $499 16 GB, 9.7-inch , which has a 2,048x1,536 resolution and 264 PPI. But once in use, the Nexus 10 does feel like it's worth about $100 less than its Apple rival.

I tested the Nexus 10's display and compared it with the third-generation iPad, and each time the won.

Rocks exploding from a cliff in the "Iron Man 3" trailer looked clearer and more detailed and the in a music video looked fuller and more vibrant on the iPad than on the Nexus 10. Even a photo of Google's Vic Gundotra, of engineering, that's posted on Google+ and listed as being taken by a Nexus 10 looked sharper on the iPad than on its counterpart.

But that's not to say that the Nexus 10 isn't better at some things.

Its larger screen, for example, makes the Nexus 10 ideal for watching movies. It's so wide that when you watch a video, you get a much larger image than on the iPad and hardly any black bars above and below the video.

All that real estate is also great for games. In fact, the Nexus 10 has the potential to be a better gaming tablet than the iPad. That's because at 0.35 of an inch thick and 1.33 pounds, it is slimmer and lighter than its competition. The Nexus 10's back cover also has a grip that's good for holding the device when you move it around while you play.

Running on the Nexus 10's dual-core A15 processor and Mali T604 chip, the games "Dead Trigger" and "N.O.V.A. 3" both looked great. "N.O.V.A. 3," in particular, looked and ran just as well if not better than it did on the iPad; "Dead Trigger" ran just as well but was missing effects such as water, rain drops and steam that were present on the iPad version of the video game. I'm not sure if this is because the Nexus 10 can't keep up with the iPad or because the game hasn't been optimized for the new Google tablet, but either way the Nexus 10 has some catching up to do.

As for the rest of the device, the Nexus 10 has all the standard components you'd expect from a high-end tablet.

The Nexus 10 has an HDMI out port and a micro USB port for charging and is enabled with near-field communication technology on two different locations - the center of its back and to the right on its front. NFC can be useful for instantly paying for purchases and transferring files from another NFC device. The tablet can also get nine hours of battery life during continuous use.

The Nexus 10 also has front and rear cameras. These are 1.9 megapixels and 5 megapixels, respectively. The front camera is more than suitable for a fun Google+ Hangout video chat, and the back will take respectable pictures. But Google doesn't claim the cameras record in HD, and the quality of the videos I recorded were fine but nothing special.

One thing unique to the Nexus 10's cameras is the new Photo Sphere feature, which arrives on Android devices with the 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system update. Photo Sphere enables you to shoot 360-degree panoramic images. This feature seems perfect for trips to locations such as the Grand Canyon or the top of the Eiffel Tower.

But besides that, Photo Sphere is not much more than a bragging point for Android users. It takes a long time to shoot a full 360-degree image, and I could never get it to look perfect. But if you do take the time to shoot an entire location that surrounds you, the results are visually stunning; you can upload them to +, where your friends can toggle through the images. The files save as JPEGs, so you can also upload them to Facebook or Twitter - but there they'll simply look like very wide panoramas.

Finally, on the hardware side, the Nexus 10 has front-facing dual speakers similar to the ones found on the Galaxy Note 10.1. That's not surprising, since both tablets are made by Samsung. The volume of sound produced is great for a tablet. Quality of sound, though, is a bit on the tinny side, but if you just want to play a YouTube video or TV show for you and a friend, the speakers should do well.

All in all, the 10, which you can order online Nov. 13, is a solid and a very good deal at 16 GB for $399 or 32 GB for $499. Anyone who gets one this season will have received a great present, but if you can afford an additional $100, the iPad may be the way to go.

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not rated yet Nov 08, 2012
well, that was a bittersweet review. i wonder why the screen comes off with a worse quality aesthetic than the Retina? On paper, this tablet destroys the iPad 4. It's faster, lighter, NFC enabled, and higher res.. where did they go wrong?
not rated yet Nov 08, 2012
Nice one Robert J, it took me a few moments before I figured out you were spamming us. Much higher quality than the regular spam.
1 / 5 (1) Nov 08, 2012
Can you change the battery?
5 / 5 (3) Nov 08, 2012
ok, so this is a nice tablet for watching movies BUT then where is the micro sd slot?! i want to carry my own media and not be pushed to be hooked up to some app/movie/music store..
5 / 5 (2) Nov 08, 2012
where is the micro sd slot?!

I agree. One of the detractions of Apple devices has always been the way you get stung disproportionately for larger internal storage. Something that you could have bought for a small proportion of difference between each price point and yet is the only variable between models. Seems that this greedy trend has been set and now others want to follow suit. What happened to "Don't be Evil"?!
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 08, 2012
Can you change the battery?

I agree. Most of these batteries are designed for about 3-4 years of daily use, which means that you have a pre-defined upgrade cycle time.

You're also stuck spending another 50-100 dollars for a portable external charger if you plan on being away from a wall outlet for a while.
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 08, 2012
where is the micro sd slot?!

I agree with that too.

Cloud storage is okay, as long as you are connected, but most people use these things as media players, and what good is a media player without media to play?

My full music and audio book libraries wouldn't fit on one of these.
4.5 / 5 (2) Nov 08, 2012
My full music and audio book libraries wouldn't fit on one of these.

Then again: do you need that with you all the time. Most of us have large media collections, but I'm betting large chunks of money that the overwhelming majority of it is gathering dust in the databanks for years and years before being used (if at all).
And I'm thinking that it's not too much of a hardship to occasionally think about what you really want to have with you instead of always just dumping everything in there...for those few times when you think you may not be cloud connected.

That said: can keep 'em.
not rated yet Nov 09, 2012
I've been wanting a 10" tablet for years, but I Don't Do Apple, and given my experience with my HTC Incredible, I've learned to hate bloatware from carriers and manufacturers as well. This is the first tablet that satisfies my criteria, and this is the first time I've had money for it. I'll be buying one within the next month. I'm leaning towards 16GB, but it's a hard call for me. I'm planning on getting a Nexus 4 as well, but I'll want to round up a protective cover I'll actually *use* and a good waterproofing treatment -first-.
1 / 5 (2) Nov 09, 2012
This is the first tablet that satisfies my criteria, and this is the first time I've had money for it. I'll be buying one within the next month

I think these are all still in the early adopter stage. In a few years we will look back at this generation of tablets in much the same way we now look at the suitcase "portable" phones that had the big car battery attached to them.

I'm not ready to jump into this market yet. Everything I want to do is better done with either a smaller or larger system.
5 / 5 (1) Nov 10, 2012
Where is Linux? I would like a tablet that can do many things, and I'm not at all taken with the social media. I have an I Pad, and it is truly a frustrating, dramatically less than useful tool for anything other than social media and entertainment. I have looked at Windows 8 and it appears to be an intuitive and open tool that can be used for entertainment AND productivity. Apple has failed me miserably one more time.
not rated yet Nov 11, 2012
What I want is a big wide tablet with full windows 8 features that is also a PC...
Like this one:
not rated yet Nov 11, 2012
Tablets are a flash in the pan.

Vastly smaller devices that project their display directly into the eye are end point form factor for media consumption devices.

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