Google Nexus 7 Review

Posted: 20 Aug 2012 09:29 PM PDT

After more than two weeks of playing around with the Nexus 7 and making it my primary tablet, I’v already forgotten where I placed my iPad 3. Check out why on our full review of the Google Nexus 7.

The Nexus 7 is Google’s very first collaboration to create a bleeding-edge Android tablet. It comes with the latest version of their Android OS, codenamed Jellybean, to showcase the optimizations introduced into the update.

Design and Build

As a 7-inch tablet, the Nexus 7 is pretty portable and usable even with just one hand although we feel it’s is a little thick at 10.5mm. It’s got that matte finish and the rubbery back panel feels soft and those small dimples are hardly noticeable (still gives you a good, non-slippery grip nonetheless).

Aside from the power button and the volume controls on the left side of the device, the only other ports are the 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB port — both of which are found at the bottom end of the tablet.

The device feels solid and firm but we found a QA issue with our review unit — the screen separation issue which is widely reported by other users. It’s a bit of a nagging issue especially when you hold the tablet with your left hand. Everything else looked okay and just fine.


There have been a lot of 7-inch tablets around and the Nexus 7 is just one of many. With a 720p resolution, the Nexus 7 has a relatively good display quality when paired with an IPS LCD.

While we think the image quality looked crisp and clear, the maximum brightness of the display doesn’t really bring out the best from the device.

The pixel density of 216ppi is enough to give the display a decent image rendering (better than the pixel density of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and the same as the Huawei MediaPad). We’ve seen 10-inch tablets with 720p HD display but it looks way better on a smaller 7-inch screen.

The screen gets into a lot of problems with glare when used in the outdoors but this is an issue that many other tablets are also prone to.

OS, UI and Apps

What’s good with the Nexus line of devices is that they use the latest version of Google Android. In this case, the Nexus 7 runs on Android 4.1.1 Jellybean with the stock UI we’re all familiar with.

Initially, there were a number of Android apps that would not install or run on Jellybean but later updates have fixed this already. For a full overview of Android Jellybean, you can read our previous article about it here.

A few notable features include Android Beam which allows for sharing of information or transferring files just by tapping two devices (uses NFC for pairing).

The other one is Google Now which is basically a voice assisted information center, much like Siri on the iPhone and S Voice on the Galaxy S3, only that Google Now does not follow commands but more like providing search-related information.

Multimedia and Camera

The volume of the speakers at the back seem to be a bit under-powered. The max volume isn’t too good that we’d always end up hooking the device to an external speaker.

Unfortunately, the Nexus 7 does not have any rear camera. Instead, Google sacrificed it to keep the cost down and focused on the front-facing camera for video calls (Google Hangout).

The Nexus 7 comes with Google Chrome as the default browser. It’s way better than the default Android browser that’s been around for so long. There’s no Flash player pre-installed into Chrome but we have a fix for it here.

Other content in Google Play such as music and videos are not also available in the Philippines so that’s already a disappointment right there.

Performance and Benchmarks

We ran a couple of benchmarks and the results are pretty much expected (since we already tested a similar specs on other Tegra 3 devices). Quadrant score is 3,641 and Nenamark 2 is 55.7fps. After a quick firmware update, we finally managed to download and install and got a score of 10,752.

The scores are almost the same ones we got on the Asus Transformer TF201 so we’re pretty impressed. Google did really good with the Jellybean update. The over-all experience is so smooth it’s very close to iOS. You will experience the occasional lags but in our experience, we rarely notice it.

Battery Life

We managed to get the tablet to last just over 3 days with casual use. However, when subjected to heavy usage the battery can only last us around 7 hours (continuously watching videos). It’s not as good as the 10 solid hours we got from the BlackBerry Playbook.

Nevertheless, we’re pretty satisfied with the battery performance.


Google made a lot of cost-cutting on the Nexus 7 and may have rushed Asus to manufacture the tablet which resulted into some poor quality control. However, this type of hardware in a price category that’s not been heard of in any other branded tablet manufacturer, the Google Nexus 7 has made a huge step forward. One is to bring really good performing tablets to a much lower price category (it’s normally in the 20k+ range) and, two, it has addressed one of the biggest issues that has been plaguing Android devices (laggy performance).

So yes, we can definitely say that the Google Nexus 7 is the best tablet in its price category. It’s a powerful tablet on a budget. It’s got its fair share of shortcomings and it’s not perfect but it’s a good example that many other manufacturers can follow. Now that’s where the excitement really is.

Google Nexus 7 specs:
7.0″ IPS LCD @ 720p 1280×800 pixels, 216ppi
NVidia Tegra 3 1.3GHz quad-core processor
8GB internal storage
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
VGA front-facing camera
Android 4.1.1 Jellybean

The Google Nexus 7 is not yet officially released in the Philippines. It’s been slated to be launched locally this August but due to high demand in other markets (specifically the US where it was first released), the Philippine release by Asus looks like it’s going to be delayed. The US retail price is $199 for the 8GB and $249 for the 16GB model. This does not include US state taxes though.

In the Philippines, we’re seeing the grey market prices to be in the Php13k to Php16k, respectively.

What we liked about the Google Nexus 7:
● Great performance
● Very affordable price
● Updated with the latest Android OS

What we did not like:
● Low internal storage
● No expandable storage
● No rear camera
● Weak speakers
● QA issues

Disclosure: We bought our own review unit of the Google Nexus 7 in the United States with a total landed cost of around Php12k (included taxes, shipping and customs).

Samsung Galaxy S Duos announced

Posted: 20 Aug 2012 08:02 PM PDT

Samsung has announced its latest dual-SIM Android handset, the Galaxy S Duos. This Galaxy S3 look-alike is the dual-SIM version of the very first Galaxy S handset from two years ago.

The design resembles that of the new Galaxy S3 but on a smaller form factor (4.0″) and has a hardware configuration similar to the original Galaxy S (or probably even the Galaxy Ace or Ace 2).

The specs ins’t that inspiring but the design is already updated and the dual-SIM feature is slowly creeping up into the mid-range.

Samsung Galaxy S Duos specs:
4.0″ TFT LCD @ 480×800 pixels, 233ppi
1.0GHz Cortex-A5 processor
Adreno 200 GPU
4GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD
HSDPA 7.2Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
5MP rear camera
FM radio tuner
GPS with aGPS support
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
1500mAh Li-Ion battery

The Samsung Galaxy S Duos will be released sometime towards the end of September with a yet un-announced retail price.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 coming in at Php32,990

Posted: 20 Aug 2012 05:40 AM PDT

We failed to make it to the closed session of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 last Friday but was able to gather some information that tablet will be released next week (end of August).

The Galaxy Note 10.1 will come in both WiFi only and WiFi+3G models. However, Samsung Philippines will not release the WiFi-only models.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 GT-N8000 specs:
10.1" PLS capacitive screen, 1280×800 pixels @ 149ppi
Exynos 4412 1.4GHz quad-core
16GB internal storage
up to 64GB via microSD card
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, WiFi hotspot
Bluetooth 4.0
5MP rear autofocus camera with LED flash
1.9MP secondary camera
Android 4.0.4 ICS
262 x 180 x 8.9 mm

You can read more about the Galaxy Note 10.1 first impressions here.

Jellybean update for Asus Transformer Pad TF300

Posted: 20 Aug 2012 05:17 AM PDT

When we attended its launch last July, we were told that the company is already brewing up a Jelly bean update for the ASUS Transformer TF300 and TF700, but we didn't expect it to be this quick.

It hasn't even been a month since the ASUS Transformer TF300 has been officially launched here in our country and the tablet already received an Android 4.1.1 update.

With this update, the affordable quad-core TF300 joins the ranks of the few selected Android devices and be the only second tablet to officially have the buttery OS next to Nexus 7.This will certainly make the tablet even more enticing in the market and give its early adopters all the more reason to cherish their TF300.

For now, the update can only be applied via OTA so you better watch out for it. If you were able to install the update already, feel free to comment on you experience with it.

D-Link DCS-942L Surveillance Camera

Posted: 20 Aug 2012 02:01 AM PDT

Surveillance cameras come in all shapes and sizes and are equipped with various features to provide the best possible coverage in a certain area. But these devices can be tasking to install and present some limitations in monitoring a place at any given time.

The D-Link DCS-942L aims to solve these problems through the use of the internet.

The D-Link DCS-942L's design is rather unusual because it looks more of a webcam than a surveillance camera. It has a detachable rounded base that holds the main piece in place and also acts a stand if the device is not mounted on the wall.

Setting up the camera for the first time is relatively easy thanks to its user friendly CD installation guide. The camera comes with an Ethernet cable to connect it to your router, but should you wish to, you can also connect it wirelessly via the WPS button.

Once the connection is established, you'll be asked to create a myDLink account which will serve as a portal for you to see what the camera is seeing wherever you are at any given time. This can be done by either logging in on the myDLink website or downloading mydlink app which is available on iOS and Android platforms. Here's a screenshot of the camera in action accessed via the myDLink app on our Galaxy Note.

The D-Link DCS-942L is capable of recording in H.264 and MP4 file format in 640 x 480 resolution at 30fps. Recording in low-light condition isn't going to be a problem with this camera either, thanks to its light sensor and four infrared LEDs. In terms of saving, a user can set up a host computer to save the recorded videos or insert a micro-SD card, but if you have NAS device set up you can also choose to save it on there.

Other than managing your camera's settings, there are other neat customizations that you can do with the D-Link DCS-942L through the D-ViewCam software that comes with the device. You can set up recording schedules, email alert notification and make use of the motion detection feature of the camera which only triggers the recording when it detects movement inside the app.

Updated: Suggested retail price is in the $199 range.

BDO to start charging Php2 for every ATM withdrawals

Posted: 20 Aug 2012 01:14 AM PDT

Upon learning of the news that BDO (Banco de Oro) will start charing Php2 for every ATM withdrawals in their network, I went to the nearest BDO ATM station to double-check.

Indeed, there was an announcement in the screen of the terminal that starting September 1, 2012, BDO will be charging 2 pesos on every withdrawals made by depositors of the very same bank.

Normally, charges are applied when there’s inter-bank or inter-network withdrawals. This time, BDO is charging its own customers for using its own network.

I tried taking photos of the terminal but the announcement was so quick, it could have been only displayed in a second or half a second. I made several transactions but the announcement would not come up again. I think they really made that announcement so obscure hoping that people will not notice.

After repeated attempts and not getting a screenshot, I withdrew all the money that I could from the ATM.

Update: We’re receiving additional reports on similar sightings in BDO ATMs that indicate the Php2 charge is only applicable to BDO Cash Cards. This will not affect the regular savings ATMs.

We’re getting additional verifications from folks from BDO.

5000mAh Extended Battery for Samsung Galaxy Note

Posted: 19 Aug 2012 10:57 PM PDT

We’ve been using the 3600mAh extended battery for the Huawei E5 on regular days but sometimes, during events, I would pack my Samsung Galaxy Note with a high-capacity 5000mAh Li-Ion battery.

I would only do that on occasion where I need to maximize my connection speed and multi-task between my laptop (connected to the pocket WiFi), the tablet and the smartphone.

The battery comes with a back cover for the handset to fit the new form factor.

Last time I remembered using this was during Computex in Taiwan and Samsung Unpack in London where I had to tweet and live-blog at the same time (I was using two different 3G providers).

Anyway, the 5000mAh Li-ion battery is exactly twice the capacity of the original one on the Galaxy Note so more or less you get around double the battery life.

I’ve tried this on many occasions but the graph above shows the battery life over a span of 48 hours where 3G is active. The first 24 hours was dedicated to just mobile browsing, Twitter, FB and a few other stuff.

On the second day, I activated the WiFi hotspot of the Galaxy Note and connected my laptop to it for web surfing and blogging. That’s when the battery started to get some serious stress.

In any case, I managed 44 hours with 14% battery life left. The battery was totally deleted at around 48 hours. Not bad for heavy usage.

The 5000mAh extended battery is being sold by Hot Gadgets over at Sulit for only Php2,180 and comes with a custom back cover (see listing here). They have a similar one, though only 3500mAh, for the Galaxy S2.