Google's launch of its new Nexus devices hasn't gone very smoothly. The Nexus 4 smartphone was sold out in less than an hour and hasn't returned to sale yet, while the Nexus 10 tablet also has the 'sold out' sign up at the time of writing. Despite these products being as rare as hen's teeth, we've managed to hunt down a review unit of the Nexus 10, Google's first 10in Android tablet. Here's our first impressions.
A brilliant display
The Nexus line of products have traditionally focussed on software and while that is still largely true in the case of the Nexus 10, it's a hardware feature that immediately stands out. The 10in screen of the Nexus 10 makes a hugely positive first impression.
The technical jargon states that the Nexus 10 has a "true RGB real stripe PLS" panel. In short, PLS is a Samsung display technology that claims to offer higher brightness and better viewing angles compared to IPS screens — that's the technology used on the latest 4th Generation iPad, in case you were wondering.
The Nexus 10's resolution of 2560x1600 gives it a pixel density of 300dpi. Both are higher than the 4th Gen iPad and the end result is a screen that displays super crisp and sharp text with no visible aberrations.
Forget the technical terms, though. The only thing you need to know is that this is a seriously impressive display. Colours are vivid and vibrant, viewing angles are superb and brightness is excellent. In fact, the Nexus 10's display is so crisp that it immediately makes many images, both in the Android software itself and throughout the Web, look blurry. Apps that have been updated to support the higher resolution, like most of Google's official apps, look superb, but app icons and images on the Web that don't make use of the display can look poor. Obviously, this issue will diminish over time as developers update their apps.
Light and comfortable, but ultimately bland
Aside from its display, the other impression you immediately get once you pick up the Nexus 10 for the first time is, "is that it?". The Nexus 10 really doesn't stand out in any way when it comes to looks. It's a large black slab, with rounded corners and front-facing speakers that try their best to blend into the bezel. The Nexus and Samsung logos on the back are carved into the smooth plastic surface, but besides these small touches, there's been no attempt to add any wow factor to the look. We wouldn't describe it as ugly, but it's not very attractive, either.
The feel is a different story, however. The Nexus 10 is very light for its size and the shape of the tablet makes it very inviting to hold. Ergonomically, there's no doubt in our mind that this is a more comfortable device to hold and use than the iPad. The iPad may feel more premium, but it is also heavier and thicker. We also like the feel of the Nexus 10's soft touch plastic, though we do wish it wasn't so smooth. In this instance, we prefer the leather-like feel of the Nexus 7's back, which makes it easier to grip.
The Nexus 10 has a 16:10 orientation, which means its great for watching videos without those pesky black bars on the top and the bottom of the screen. This orientation makes the Nexus 10 ideal to use in landscape mode, but not so good for portrait mode. Reading a book, for example, isn't very ideal on the Nexus 10 because the device is long but not very wide.
Smooth and fast
We've only been testing the Nexus 10 for a few hours, but our first impressions are positive. The tablet is powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core Exynos 5250 processor and has 2GB of RAM and that seems to be enough to keep things ticking over nicely. We haven't experienced any lag or slowdown during most tasks. The tablet has no problem running graphically intense games, either. The high resolution screen is a particular standout in this regard.
Our review unit came with 32GB of internal memory and retails for $569, but there's also a 16GB model that sells for $100 less. There's no expandable memory slot though, so users who want to store loads of content on the device will be left disappointed. There's also no 3G or 4G connectivity, so this is a Wi-Fi only device.
The Android 4.2 'Jelly Bean' software powering the Nexus 10 is slicker and faster than ever. Google continually improves each Android version and the fact this is a Nexus device means you'll get software updates in a timely fashion. There's a range of new features but perhaps the most notable is a multiple user system. This allows you to specific user accounts with personalised home screens and apps and each user requires their own Google account. This is ideal for users of the Nexus 10 who may share the tablet with multiple family members, for example.
We'll be publishing a full review of the Google Nexus 10 Android tablet next week. In the meantime, if you have any questions or thoughts regarding the Nexus 10, let us know in the comments below.