Google has officially unveiled the new Nexus 10 tablet running Android 4.2. Built by Samsung but clearly designed by Google, the tablet features a very impressive 10-inch screen at 2560 x 1600 resolution, clocking in at 300ppi. Google calls it "True RGB Real Stripe PLS," and in our short time with the tablet we found it to be on par with the iPad's Retina display, with sharp text, excellent color fidelity, and great viewing angles.
It will come in 16GB or 32GB variants and will be Wi-Fi only. The processor behind the tablet is a powerful dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 chip paired with 2GB of RAM, likely of the Samsung Exynos variety, with a quad-core Mali T604 GPU inside — and combined with the speed improvements of Android 4.2 we were hard-pressed to see any sort of lag when swiping around the interface. There's a 5-megapixel camera around back if you're into taking photos with your tablet and a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera. The battery has a 9,000mAh capacity, which Google says should be good for up to 9 hours of HD video playback, and likely forms the bulk of the 604 gram weight of the device. It also features dual, front-facing speakers for audio, microUSB, Micro HDMI and not one but two NFC chips, one on the front and one on the back.
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In terms of hardware, you could say it's a distant cousin to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, but that would be underserving the level of build-quality here. The rear of the tablet is a soft-touch plastic that's remarkably grippy, allowing us to hold the tablet horizontally with one hand even though it has a 16:10 aspect ratio. True to the leaks we'd seen before, the tablet has rounded corners and the edges are also not exactly straight, with gentle curves that make the whole thing feel less squarish than most tablets.
Easily the best-feeling and best-performing 10-inch Android tablet we've seen
You can attach a special cover to the tablet: the back has a removable panel at top that can be replaced with another one with a built-in cover. With the unit we tried, that panel was a little finicky to remove, though. Also, though the cover automatically woke and slept the device, it's not segmented like the smart cover on an iPad, so it's not likely to be especially useful as a stand.
On the software side, the Nexus 10 is running a stock version of Android 4.2, and you can read plenty more about that operating system right here. The biggest change is on the homescreen, which now uses the same button layout as the Nexus 7 instead of the confusing mix of corners found on Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich tablets. The other big change is that the Nexus 10 will support multiple users — you can log in under your own Google account and have personalized homescreens, your own apps, and all the rest. Google tells us that although apps aren't technically shared across accounts, if you install an app that's already present on another account, it will pull that app in directly rather than have you re-download it from Google Play. Android 4.2 has plenty of other tweaks, including gesture-based typing, Google Now enhancements, and support for HD magazines.
Overall, the Nexus 10 was easily the best-feeling and best-performing 10-inch Android tablet we've seen — but whether or not there's a real market for 10-inch Android tablets is another matter entirely. Google is selling the tablet for $399 for the 16GB version and $499 for the 32GB version, which makes it $100 less expensive than a comparable iPad with Retina display. That price differential may help juice sales, but buyers will still have to contend with the anemic options in the Android tablet app ecosystem. It will be available on November 13th in the Google Play Store in the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany, Spain and Canada. In America you'll also be able to pick up the 32GB model from one over of 2,000 Walmart stores.