Google Nexus 10 £319

19th Jun 2014 | 15:23

Google Nexus 10

A great value full size tablet with only a few minor shortcomings

TechRadar rating:

4.5 stars

The Nexus 10 may be getting on a bit, but if you want a full size tablet that doesn't cost the earth you'll get a full HD display and powerful processor - there's no expandable storage or SIM option though.

Like:

Powerful processor; High-res screen; Android 4.4;

Dislike:

No 3G/4G option; No expandable storage; Muted colours for media;

Introduction

Ratings in depth

Google Nexus 10 review
Google Nexus 10 review
Google Nexus 10 review
Google Nexus 10 review
Google Nexus 10 review

The Google Nexus 10 was an entirely expected model that rocked up on the shelves in late 2012, taking on the iPad in the 10-inch segment and joining the Google Nexus 7 on the virtual Play Store shelves.

With a stunning screen, fun rubber body and a lower price, is this the tablet you should be craving?

It wasn't going to be an easy fight for Google; the iPad has always been in a league of its own and had a serious head start, but Google wasn't entering the fray unprepared.

At £319 for the 16GB model the Google Nexus 10 is £80 cheaper than the equivalent iPad Air. In fact even the 32GB model, with its price tag of £389 comes in at slightly under a 16GB iPad Air and it's far cheaper than a 32GB one.

Don't think that just because it's relatively cheap it's not a premium, powerhouse device though. With a retina-searing 10.05-inch 2560 x 1600 Super PLS display, it's even higher resolution than the latest iPad, with 300ppi against the iPad Air's 264ppi.

With a display that beautiful it's reassuring to know that it uses Corning Gorilla Glass 2 to keep it in pristine condition.

Google Nexus 10 review

It's no slouch under the hood either. With a dual-core 1.7GHz Samsung Exynos processor and 2GB of RAM, it should just about be able to keep up with the latest Android devices, though it's starting to look a bit long in the tooth compared to the likes of the quad-core Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet.

Initially launched running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean out of the box, the 'pure Google' tab has since seen three OS updates spanning Android 4.2.2 right through to Android 4.4 KitKat, which made its way to the device in the early part of this year.

While the minor update to Android 4.2.2 didn't bring that much to the table (since it's mostly just bug fixes and stability enhancements).

Google Nexus 10 review

The introduction of Jelly Bean saw all manner of improvements manifesting themselves on the Nexus 10, most notably the option to tweak settings at user level. The option to lock individual apps through 'personal spaces' was one of the most well-received bits of functionality brought along version 4.3.

More noticeable upgrades came in the form of camera improvements and Open GL ES 3.0, which allowed VOD streaming at 1080p over a cellular data connection.

'So far, so good' was the general sentiment and it's even more pleasing (if not hugely surprising) to see Google shovelling its latest platform out to the Nexus 10. Yes, it may be getting on a bit these days but the Nexus range was, after all, created to show off the latest and greatest Android iterations...

Google Nexus 10 review

It's a similar tactic to the one used for the Google Nexus 7 - produce top-end hardware at the lowest price possible to get people buying. It's even learned a few lessons from the Nexus 7, since this time Google isn't bothering with a cripplingly small 8GB model and is making a 32GB version available from day one.

But opting for a dual-core processor rather than a quad-core one was a little surprising, and while it's a lot less money than the latest iPad, the Google Nexus 10 could hardly be called cheap. So perhaps in this case it's high-end hardware at a not unreasonable price, which somehow doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

Early sales of the Google Nexus 10 were extremely promising. Despite the slightly higher price tag compared to some other Android tablets on the market, the Nexus 10 has sold out on Google's Play Store on multiple occasions, with buyers clearly entranced by the super high resolution screen and larger dimensions.

Google Nexus 10 review

Unfortunately for those who like to lug massive tablets around on the go or stream content until their heart's content, the much-talked about 3G or 4G variant never actually materialised.

In the months that have passed since this review was first published however, speculation has mounted over when the next Nexus 10 will appear and what it'll have under its sizeable hood, with the latest rumours suggesting all manner of improvements are on the way.

Features

The Google Nexus 10 feels quite weighty, particularly if your last tablet experience was the Google Nexus 7, but at 603g it's still pretty average for a tablet of this size, although the iPad Air easily trumps it at 469g.

With dimensions of 203.9 x 177.6 x 8.9mm it's wider longer and thicker than the latest iPad, giving it more of a wide screen experience for watching movies.

The slightly curved edges make it comfortable to hold in two hands for long periods (one handed holding is pretty much a non-starter), though if you're planning to watch movies on it you might find that your hands start to ache before the credits roll, so it would be worth getting a stand of some kind for it or just finding something to rest it on.

Google Nexus 10 review

It's also not quite as comfortable to hold as the Nexus 7, not just because of their relative weights, but also because the back of the Nexus 7 is slightly soft and warm, while the Nexus 10 is cold, hard plastic through and through. Though on the plus side it's rubbery, which provides grip.

The Google Nexus 10's 2GB of RAM is double that of the iPad Air and Nexus 7.

It is only a dual core tablet though, with each core is clocked at 1.7GHz. The Sony Xperia Tablet Z has 2GB of RAM and a quad-core processor, while the newer Z2 Tablet has a beefy 3GB of RAM alongside an impressive 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 chip.

Google Nexus 10 review

In the power department then the Nexus 10 is really showing it's age, but the vanilla version of Android KitKat means there's no overly complex UI to render, keeping things smooth.

The Google Nexus 10 also comes with Bluetooth 3.0 and NFC support, although the former spec isn't the low-power sensor technology we expect to come on most devices these days.

It comes with an enormous 9,000mAh Lithium polymer battery, promising 9 hours of video, 7 hours of web browsing or 90 hours of music. In theory that gives it slightly more juice than a Nexus 7 and the iPad Air.

Google Nexus 10 review

Unfortunately, much like the iPad Air, the battery in the Google Nexus 10 can't be removed. So you don't have the option to swap in a spare when it runs down. If it ever wears out then you're out of luck. KitKat does however bring along some power efficiency measures, but more about that later.

Following suit from the Nexus 7, the front of the device is a single sheet of glass, with no buttons to spoil the lines. We've already mentioned how jaw dropping the display resolution is, but it's worth noting that it has superb viewing angles too.

I tried looking at it in every conceivable position and from different distances and the display was always clear and sharp.

Google Nexus 10 review

It even fares well in bright sunlight. It became harder to see but never became totally washed out. Plus you can turn the brightness up pretty high, which helps burn through the glare.

It's not a total victory though, because while the resolution is unparalleled for a tablet, the contrast between colours is a bit muted - they're never as bright or deep as they could be - especially if you've seen the amazing Super AMOLED HD screen on the Samsung Galaxy S5.

There's a black border around the display that you can rest your thumbs on and a narrow speaker running the length of each of the shorter sides.

Google Nexus 10 review

The 1.9 megapixel front camera lens can be found in the middle of one of the longer sides, which suggests that unlike its little brother, the Google Nexus 10 is intended to be used primarily as a landscape device. Next to it you'll notice an ambient light sensor, which will automatically dim the screen in low light.

At the opposite side there's a little indicator light that flashes whenever you get a notification, be it an email, a reminder or whatever else. When it's not flashing it's all but invisible.

The top edge of the Google Nexus 10 houses the power button, which is also used to sleep and wake the device. Just to the right of that there's a volume rocker. It's a great position as it's easy to reach whether you hold the tablet in portrait or landscape orientation. My only minor complaint is that the volume rocker is only slightly bigger than the power button, making it easy to mistake one for the other.

Google Nexus 10 review

On the left edge there's a micro USB port, used for charging the tablet or to connect it to a PC or other USB device. Next to that there's a 3.5mm headphone port.

On the right edge there's a micro HDMI port, which was sorely lacking from the Google Nexus 7, while the bottom edge has a magnetic pogo pin charging port, which is used to connect it to a dock.

Turn the Google Nexus 10 over and you'll find a big speaker at the top, along with the main 5 megapixel camera lens, which is also capable of shooting 1080p video at 30fps. Below that the casing is a hard, rubbery plastic shell with the words 'Nexus' and 'Samsung' stencilled into it.

Google Nexus 10 review

The Google Nexus 10 feels sturdy and well made and it doesn't look too cheap, but it also doesn't look particularly premium. That's a bit of a problem, particularly when it was positioned as an iPad competitor, and even more so given the raft of smartphones, phablet and tablet devices that have been released.

It's not just the plastic shell that lets it down, as the rounded shape makes it look a bit childish - like a 'my first tablet'. And while I'm on the subject of the plastic shell, the Nexus 7 was plasticky as well, but the mottled, slightly soft back on that was far more aesthetically pleasing and felt nicer to hold as well.

That's not the Google Nexus 10's only problem either, as with no microSD card slot there's no option for expandable storage. Sure the iPad doesn't have that either, but microSD support has always been one of the key differentiators between Android and iOS - although Google has always been against it on the Nexus brand, so I wasn't hopeful it would pop up here.

Google Nexus 10 review

It's arguably a bigger problem here than on a phone too, because tablets are all about media consumption, so it's expected that you'll be loading it up with films, music and games.

32GB will still probably be enough for most people, but the 16GB version may quickly start to feel limiting. In any case, it's a not unexpected omission, but with a price tag that's not as crippling as the likes of the iPa or the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet it's far from a deal-breaker.

Interface and performance

Powering up the Google Nexus 10 sees you greeted by the all-new Android KitKat lockscreen, which features a new Google-colourway touting wallpaper. This can be changed within display settings, however, and another couple have been added to the selection available.

A digital time display is situated about three quarters of the way up the screen (when in landscape orientation) in a bold white font with the day and date in smaller writing positioned directly beneath it.

The ringed padlock icon remains and while the default is set to merely unlock the device with a swipe in any direction, you can change this so that a slide to the left to launches the camera, and an upward swipe launches Google Now.

We've seen Google Now before on the first version of Android Jelly Bean 4.1; it shows 'cards' with useful information determined based on the time, day and your location, along with any custom parameters you've put in place. So for example it might display a card with the local weather every morning, along with one showing traffic details for the route you take to work.

Google Nexus 10 review

Throughout the day it will update with upcoming calendar events and interesting nearby places. It's a great idea, a sort of visual virtual assistant, but it felt a bit too limited as it only had a handful of cards on offer.

Android 4.4 has seen it get a bit of an overhaul with loads more cards added. Users can now access improved real-time travel update information and are granted the option to set voice reminders, to go along with the flight information, event, hotel and restaurant booking confirmations, movie times at local cinemas, interesting photo spots recommendations that the Jelly Bean update added.

The most notable changes here though are the new, cleaner and glacial white interface that replaces the blue 'Holo' effort seen on past iterations, and the fact that it now second guesses your cultural leanings and suggests albums and games you might be interested in..

You can also now use your voice to tell it to set reminders, which you can set to go off on a specific time and date or even at a specific location. For example you could ask it to remind you to buy eggs next time you're in Tesco.

As before, Google Now can be launched from any screen by dragging the home button upwards, and for anything that isn't covered by your cards you can initiate a voice search, which will either give a spoken answer like Siri or perform a web search and display relevant results.

Google Nexus 10 review

It can also be used to perform simple actions such as launching apps and it does a pretty good job of understanding what you're asking.

Google Now is a great feature and it's now even more useful; however, it's better suited to phones than tablets, as you're more likely to have your phone on and with you throughout the day. Not to mention the fact that it requires a data connection and right now the Nexus 10 is Wi-Fi only, so you won't be able to use Google Now all that much when out and about.

Once on the homescreen it's standard, familiar Android through and through. There's a search bar at the top which can be used to search both Google and the tablet's contents through text or voice.

The voice search is the same as the one used in Google Now, so you can get spoken answers and launch apps with it.

At the bottom of the screen you'll find the standard Android dock, which initially has icons for the app drawer, the Chrome browser, Gmail, Play Books, Play Movies, Play Music, YouTube, and Google Play in it, along with a folder full of other Google apps such as Google Plus, Maps, and People.

Google Nexus 10 review

There are five home screens available for you to fill with whatever apps, folders and widgets you want and you just swipe across the screen to flip between them.

The screen is incredibly as smooth and responsive as you'd expect from a device that's over two years old now - not noticeably slow unless you've recently been zipping round the interface of the Nexus 5, Galaxy S5 or even the new Nexus 7 like I have.

There's no sign of judder or slow down, just silky smooth transitions, which is impressive as even the quad core Google Nexus 7 has the occasional hiccup but in our time with the Nexus 10 it performed almost flawlessly.

A bar at the bottom of the screen contains the back button, which cycles back to the previous screen you were on. To the right of it there's the menu button which takes you back to your homescreens; alternatively if you swipe upwards from it Google Now will open.

Finally, to the right of that there's the multi-task button. Tapping that brings up thumbnails of all your open apps and windows; tapping on one will switch to it while swiping across it will close it. It's worth re-iterating that none of these are physical buttons, they're software ones.

Google Nexus 10 review

Swiping down across the bar at the top of the screen brings down the notifications bar and this is a bit different to what we're used to. Previously there was just one notifications bar, but since Android 4.2 you now get two.

Slide down across the left side of the screen and you get the familiar one with the time and date at the top and any un-cleared notifications listed. These include things like emails, calendar events and social network updates. It shows you the sender (where applicable) along with the first couple of lines of text to give you a preview of the contents, while tapping on it will open the full message or details. An icon at the top right of the notifications screen will let you clear it.

So far, so familiar, but if you slide down from the top right of the tablet screen you'll get a different notifications bar altogether, or rather, a settings bar. It's a thin black strip that takes up roughly half the width of the screen and is overlaid on top of whatever screen you were on, much like the standard notifications screen.

However rather than notifications it has options to adjust the brightness, turn aeroplane mode on or off, turn Wi-Fi on or off and more. You can also get to the main settings screen from here.

For some inexplicable reason, however, you can't bring both of these bars down at once despite the fact that they would both fit on the screen (in landscape orientation at least) as trying to bring a second one down will close the first.

Google Nexus 10 review

An odd oversight on the developers part and on that I'd hoped would have been addressed with the coming of KitKat. Oh well, it just goes to show that you perhaps can't have your 4-fingered confectionery and eat it.

Tapping on the app drawer at the bottom of your home screen brings up a list of all your apps. You can swipe between pages, much like you swipe between homescreens. Tapping on an app will open it while long pressing it will let you add it to one of your homescreens, delete it or view information on it (such as the size).

There's also a widgets tab in the app drawer, which lets you see a preview of how any widgets would look, while long pressing one lets you place it on the homescreen. When placing a widget or app, anything else on the homescreen will move around to accommodate it. You can also create folders to keep things organised.

One major addition that was made to the Google Nexus 10 with the update to Android 4.2 is the Multiple Users feature. This hasn't changed with the arrival of KitKat and you can still create multiple user accounts, each with their own name, apps, accounts, widgets and Google Play logins.

It's a brilliant way of making the tablet more sociable, since you can share it with family and friends without your privacy being threatened and without constantly having to sign in and out of accounts.

Google Nexus 10 review

You can create new user areas quickly and easily from the settings screen, and once done they'll each have their own circular icon on the lock screen, which you tap on to switch between them.

The settings screen can be accessed either from a button on the notifications screen or from its own dedicated icon and as the name suggests this lets you tweak all the various options on the Google Nexus 10. For the most part it's identical to the settings screen on any other Android device, with options for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, display, storage, privacy and more.

One particular boon to the power conscious has appeared in the latest Android variant. The battery level indicator now displays a percentage figure, so you know exactly how much juice you've got left to get you through the day.

The Google Nexus 10 is slick, fast and powerful. The current version of Android combined with top flight specs make it almost as smooth to operate as an iOS device albeit one that's not nearly as nice to look at (externally at least).

The file picker interface within KitKat has also been subjected to a bit of a going over too, so that it's now much cleaner and easier to use. When you go to open a file a default file picker menu displaying said files as thumbnails appears and offers you the option to open your selection with apps from a pane down the left-hand side of the interface.

Third party apps are now included in the list and you can even view what's stored in the SD card directory by checking the 'display advanced devices' box. It's almost like a file browser in that respect.

Overall, the KitKat update has made the interface a tad more responsive and the odd tweak here and there has improved the user experience a smidgen - it's just that you wouldn't really notice unless you were a heavy user of the device and/or had a 4.3 running Nexus device to compare it against.

Messaging and browser

Messaging

The keyboard on the Google Nexus 10 is very accurate and responsive, there's never any delay when typing and unlike the Nexus 7 it features haptic feedback to provide more of a tactile sensation.

As in other areas of the UI though, the 'Holo' blue is no more and the update to Android 4.4 has also seen the addition of a new sound-set for the keyboard as well as many varied 'emoji'. Nothing major to write home about but if you do, at least now you can pepper your emails with tiny little smileys, anvils and, bizarrely, toilets.

The Swype-like 'gesture typing' functionality brought along by the Android 4.3 update is still in situ and looks and feels to have been made a bit slicker and responsive. For those who are unfamiliar with this input method, it basically lets you slide your finger across letters to create words rather than typing them.

Google Nexus 10 review

It's surprisingly fast and intuitive and for our money it works at least as well as the Swype app that no doubt inspired it.

There's also a fairly accurate voice option, which lets you speak what you want to type - this too appears to have had its recognition skills sharpened with the 4.4 update but it still leaves a lot to be desired and has difficulty in picking up certain words. This may well be down to my accent though.

However you choose to enter text - either by the traditional finger prod or the continual motion required when using Swype - the keyboard also does a good job of predicting what word you're trying to enter and auto-correcting any mistakes.

Google Nexus 10 review

It's a big keyboard too, meaning that it's easy to hit the right key and as a result mistakes are rare to begin with. Despite the size there's still plenty of screen visible with it open, both in portrait and landscape.

As always with Android if you don't get on with the keyboard there are plenty of alternative options available from Google Play.

Browser

As mentioned earlier, the touted 3G and 4G versions of this slate appear to have gotten lost in the ether and so your only option to connect to the information super-webnet is via Wi-Fi. Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n to be exact.

On the Wi-Fi front what you get specifically is dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n. It also supports Wi-Fi direct.

Google Nexus 10 review

Browsing on the device is lightning fast, with text and image heavy full desktop sites loading in around 5 seconds. With the screen's 2560 x 1600 resolution pages look crystal clear and rarely need zooming at all.

If you do decide to zoom in you can do so with a pinch or a double tap, and none of the shine is lost, with everything just as crisp and clear as when it's zoomed out.

Scrolling on the browser is generally fast and smooth, letting you glide around pages with ease and making it very fast to navigate. We say generally because surprisingly there were a few occasions where it seemed a bit jerky (namely content-heavy sites like TechRadar), but never enough to spoil the browsing experience.

Google Nexus 10 review

The Google Nexus 10 comes with the Chrome browser, which is one of the best mobile browsers around and not a million miles away from the desktop version.

The top of the screen contains the address bar, which you can tap on to type an address or search query. There's also a microphone icon at the right hand side of it, which lets you use voice search.

To the left of the address bar there are forwards and backwards arrows, allowing you to move backwards and forwards through pages that you've visited. There's also a refresh button to reload the current page.

A star in the address bar lets you quickly bookmark pages while an icon at the far right lets you open new tabs, view your bookmarks, share the current page or access the browser settings screen.

Google Nexus 10 review

The settings screen in turn has most of the options you'd expect, from auto filling in forms, to which search engine it should use, as well as options to save passwords, block pop ups and more.

There's no Flash support, but in practice we didn't really miss it - although you will currently butt up against the lack of support until HTML5 video becomes more prevalent across the web.

Android actually uses its own approximation of the service called PepperFlash, but not a lot of people know that. It's this that lets you view non-HTML5 video in the Chrome browser although as the web shifts towards the newfangled coding language, you'll hardly miss out as later Android iterations support this as fervently as people from the Home Counties do Manchester Utd and Liverpool.

Google Nexus 10 review

If you have more than one tab open these will all be visible at the very top of the screen and you can switch between them with a tap. You can also open or close tabs from here, so there's no need to delve into the menu.

Bookmarks are shown as thumbnails and from the bookmarks menu you can see your most visited sites. If you enable syncing between devices you can also view and access tabs that are open in Chrome on other devices.

It's all very straightforward and intuitive but there are plenty of other browsers available for download if you don't get on with Chrome.

Google Nexus 10 review

Whichever browser you use, the Nexus 10 offers smooth and streamlined web browsing. Pages are crisp and clear, they can be displayed in their full screen glory without the need to zoom in and sites load very quickly.

While it's true that subsequent tablet releases have improved upon the fare served up here, you'd be hard-pressed to find a tablet in this now-reduced price bracket that provides a browsing experience of this quality.

Media

Media is the lifeblood of any tablet so we'll say it straight off - the Google Nexus 10 does not disappoint in that regard. Google Play will always be the first stop for media consumption. You can rent and buy movies and there's a respectable selection on offer. There are also thousands of books available to download.

Movies and books each have their own dedicated apps too, in the form of Play Movies and Play Books. These are primarily players, but there are also links in them to the relevant parts of Google Play for all your purchasing needs, and they work really well.

The only noticeable change from Android 4.3 is the colour scheme of the launcher which switches to the white accented menus seen elsewhere within KitKat's suite of Google applications and services.

The Play Movies app displays images of all your side-loaded videos, along with information, such as the run time and a synopsis. It also displays suggestions for things to buy or rent - that may or may not be a good thing depending on your outlook, but it's not very intrusive.

Google Nexus 10 review

The Google Nexus 10 can also support a wide range of codecs, with anything from MP4 to H.264 to DivX playing happily on the device. We even got some AVIs chugging away on here, so you'll be fully stocked in a way Apple can't / won't manage on the iPad Air.

Once you actually play a video you get a progress bar along the bottom which you can drag or tap to move to different points in the video; tapping the video itself will pause it and an icon at the top right allows you to share it to supported services, such as YouTube.

Google Nexus 10 review

It's a basic set of options but it covers the important stuff. More importantly HD videos look stunning on the Nexus 10 and they sound pretty good too, as even the internal speakers can reach a respectable volume, and being forward-facing mean the tablet can be happily used without headphones (as long as nobody else is around to annoy).

You're not limited to the stock player either, as there are dozens more available from Google Play, many of which are a lot more fully featured.

Movie Studio and YouTube

A 'Movie Studio' app also comes pre-installed and this lets you create video projects by filming or importing videos, then splicing them together, cutting bits and adding images and music or other sounds. It doesn't allow much depth, but again there are other video editors available to download, some of which are free.

Google Nexus 10 review

There's also a dedicated YouTube app included with the Nexus 10, putting the entire YouTube library at your fingertips. This is nothing unusual as most phones and tablets come with a YouTube app, but it's quick, easy to navigate and gives you yet another way to consume media.

There are so many other video apps available to download though. For example there's a Netflix app on Google Play, which gives you full access to the streaming service on your tablet - assuming you have an account.

Play Books and Currents

Play Books is pretty similar to Play Movies in terms of its features. There's an attractive display of all your books when you open it. Tapping on any of them will take you to the point you last read up to and let you continue reading.

Once again the high resolution screen makes this a joy, as text is crisp and clear. You can read in portrait or landscape and reading in landscape gives a great impression of a real book, with two pages visible at once. You swipe to turn the page and an attractive page-turn transition accompanies it.

You can have books read aloud, change the typeface and font size, add bookmarks and notes and more. As with most other things on Android you're not limited to the stock reader either, there are all sorts of others available from Google Play, including Kobo and Kindle, which have their own bookstores attached.

Google Nexus 10 review

The Nexus 10 size, however, is not the most conducive to reading, as it's rather large and the screen expansive.

In addition to Play Books, the Nexus 10 also comes with 'Currents', which lets you set up feeds for websites that you like and then it presents up to date content from them in a layout that looks a lot like a magazine. It's a very attractive app and a great way of consuming web media.

Finding both books and videos on Google Play is easy to do, with an image focussed layout, categories and the ability to search for specific titles or authors.

Play Music and more

Finally we come to music, and Play Music really is an impressive beast. The basic options are fairly standard, enabling you to sort music by artist, album, song or genre and create playlists, as well as giving you an equaliser to play with.

But a recent update has made things a bit more interesting, since not only has it redesigned the whole look of the app, it has also added Instant Mixes.

This enables you to pick any song in your library and have Play Music then instantly create a playlist of similar music, which is great if you don't want to listen to a whole album or any of your existing playlists, since it saves you the effort of having to make a new one.

Google Nexus 10 review

Once you've got some music going you can pause it, play it or skip track from the notifications bar and the lock screen, so you don't lose control if you leave the player.

It's a decent selection of settings and an attractive player, with a focus on album artwork, but it's nothing amazing. So why are we so impressed? Because you can upload up to 20,000 songs to the cloud for free and stream or download them to any PC or Android device.

We'd wager that 20,000 songs is more music than many people even have, and not only does it provide a handy back up, but it gives you access to them anywhere with an internet connection.

Plus none of the music that you download from the Play Store is counted towards your limit, so aside from being a great ploy from Google to ensure future customers it also means that your entire future music collection can be stored online for free if you stick with it.

Google Nexus 10 review

This is the future of the cloud right here, or at least we hope it is, and it goes a long way towards overcoming any internal storage limitations.

The implementation isn't perfect, you can unsurprisingly only stream your music using the Play Music app (though there's nothing to stop you downloading it and then listening to it on other players). We also had some issues getting our music uploaded, first off it's incredibly slow - uploading 20,000 tracks will likely take days or even weeks.

Secondly, thousands of our tracks encountered errors during upload and were skipped over as a result. It seems that uninstalling the PC client and then re-installing it sort of helped, causing some of the missing tracks to upload, but we still encountered errors on a large number.

But if and when you get your music online it really is fantastic having free access to your entire library on the move - and it's much, much cheaper than the same service on iTunes Match or from Amazon, which only allow a limited amount of uploading (or none at all) before having to spend £21.99 to achieve the same thing.

Google Nexus 10 review

For any music downloaded to the tablet you also have plenty of other players to choose from, so you're not totally tied to Play Music, and the internal speakers are decently loud.

Most of the media players (both Google's own and those available for download) have widgets too, which lets you access and control them from your homescreen.

In terms of supported file types for music and video you're looking at MP4, H.264, DivX, WMV, MP3, WAV, eAAC+, WMA and Flac, so a pretty impressive selection, but there are plug-ins and players available from Google Play that cover just about every unsupported file type, for example MKV's. So whatever format your media is in you should be able to get it to play one way or another.

Aside from downloading or streaming you can also get media onto the Google Nexus 10 by plugging it into a PC through the micro USB port. Once done you can access the tablet through Windows Explorer and easily copy and paste or drag and drop videos, music and books to and from it.

Google Nexus 10 review

A micro HDMI port lets you hook the Nexus 10 up to a monitor or screen and view media on that, while Wi-Fi direct allows you to stream content to supported devices.

The only real failing on the media front is the lack of a micro SD card slot, and even with cloud storage for music that really is a big deal, as Google's free cloud service doesn't help for videos or games or for when there's no internet connection.

Its absence is no surprise, since Google seem to have shunned micro SD support for its whole Nexus range, but it's still disappointing. If you plan to use the Nexus 10 for media you should think very carefully about what size to buy, since that internal storage is all you get and it's very easy to fill 16GB.

It's a tough call as to which of the iPad or Nexus 10 is the better media device. The Google Nexus 10 is far more versatile, with support for just about every file type under the sun, numerous players to choose from, widgets and free cloud storage.

The iPad conversely is a lot more locked down. It supports far fewer file types, everything has to be synced through iTunes and you're pretty much stuck with Apple's iPod player. But it's also got simplicity on its side - things either work or they don't and there's not much to get to grips with.

Then there's iTunes too, which has the edge over Google Play in terms of media content.
Where Apple once had an advantage with its Retina display Google have not only closed the gap but actually topped it in resolution terms at any rate.

That said the Nexus 10 isn't quite so impressive with its handling of colours, as they're never as deep or rich as some of its competitors - the iPad included.

If you're moderately tech-savvy and not already entrenched in iTunes, then we'd give the Nexus 10 the edge, but if you want to keep things simple or already have your whole library in iTunes, then the iPad wins.

Apps and games

Google Play is your one stop shop for apps and games on the Google Nexus 10 and it now boasts over 1 million applications.

Of course it also doesn't have the quality control and approval process of Apple's store, so a number of those apps will be totally useless, but that still leaves hundreds of thousands of genuinely worthwhile ones.

Navigating the store is easy, with everything split into categories and you can also just search by name if you know roughly what you're looking for. Purchasing apps is easy too, as you simply register your bank details with Google and then you can buy and download anything in a couple of taps.

If you've already got an Android device you can also ask the Nexus 10 to sync with your account and automatically download any apps that you've previously purchased.

Google Nexus 10 review

In terms of apps, as opposed to games, Android fares pretty well against Apple. Thanks to being such an open system there are many types of apps that you won't find at all on iDevices, such as new launchers, plug-ins that let you customise the lockscreen or notifications bar, new keyboards and more.

As a general rule if there's something you don't like on the software side, or something you wish you could do, there'll be an app to fix it. It can be very liberating and lets you set up your Nexus 10 exactly how you want it.

You're not even limited to using Google Play to find apps as there are several other stores around as well. There's a lot of overlap in apps between the stores of course, but they're not identical.

There aren't all that many apps on the Google Nexus 10 out of the box though. Other than the various media apps, it comes with a Calendar, which of course can be synced with your Google calendar and supports reminders.

Google Nexus 10 review

There's also a calculator, a clock with a stop watch and timer, and a gallery (which syncs to your Google account - so any pictures you take on your phone can be viewed on your tablet and vice versa). Then there's the standard selection of Google apps - Maps, Navigation, People, Earth and Google Plus.

Plus of course you get the Gmail and Email apps that come with most Android devices. These are quick and easy to set up - in fact Gmail sets itself up, you can get push notifications for new emails and reading and composing emails in either of them is a breeze.

Where Android doesn't fare so well is games. Don't get us wrong, there's a huge selection available, but it's dwarfed by what's available on Apple devices and thanks to the huge number of different Android devices with different specs, many game developers are reluctant to develop for the platform.

Unfortunately it's a situation that's not likely to change for the foreseeable future, so if you plan on playing a lot of games on your tablet, an iPad should always be your number one choice.

That said playing games on the Google Nexus 10 is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Once again the stunning screen really helps, allowing Android games to quite literally shine.

Google Nexus 10 review

However, its 1.7GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM is beginning to show its age of late and some of the 'busier' games in terms of on-screen action (Danmaku Unlimited being one of particular note) do cause the odd jitter here and there.

Time being unkind to the hardware was none so evident as when playing EA Sports' FIFA 14, in which the pixelated players somehow conspired to be even slower than the real-life versions.

Despite these gripes though, drops in frame rate are generally few and far between and the gaming experience as a whole is one that will see the casual gamer right.

Camera

The Google Nexus 10 has a 5MP rear camera, along with a secondary 1.9MP front facing snapper. As ever I'm really not sure how useful having a camera on a tablet is.

The front facing camera makes some sense as it could be used for Skype and other webcam things, but I have trouble envisaging anyone taking their tablet out to snap pictures on. If anything the front camera should maybe get a boost in quality, even if it meant dropping the megapixel count on the rear camera.

Using the Nexus 10 has done nothing to change my mind about the usefulness of a camera on a tablet. It managed to capture some reasonable quality snaps but nothing particularly eye catching.

Google Nexus 10 review

In fact it can't even match the camera performance of most high end smartphones, which really makes it a bit pointless, since a smartphone is both more portable and by extension more likely to be with you when you're out and about. Plus taking pictures on a tablet inevitably leaves you looking ridiculous.

The camera app itself leaves a lot to be desired too, even after the KitKat update. The odd black bar down the left-hand side of the interface remains when used in landscape orientation and finding where the options lurk isn't particularly intuitive either.

Google Nexus 10 review

Many times when using the snapper I found myself tapping the black nav bar at the bottom of the app and inadvertently exiting the thing.

Unfortunately for Nexus 10 owners, the camera fixes that KitKat 4.4.2 brought to the Nexus 5 - more accurate focussing, less shutter lag, more accurate exposure and less motion blur - are exclusive to that device.

That said though, general responsiveness seems to have improved here so incidences of 'have I actually pressed the shutter button or not' moments are significantly decreased.

Google Nexus 10 review

Still, if you really insist on using your Nexus 10 as a camera there are at least a few different settings to play with. You can turn flash on or off and pick between a handful of scene modes, such as 'action' and 'night'. There's also a panorama mode and the big new feature - 'Photo Sphere'.

Photo Sphere extends the panorama idea by letting you take full 360 degree photos, which can then be viewed in a similar way to Google's 'Street View' service - letting you look up, down and around. In practice - like panorama shots, it's a series of connected photos.

Google Nexus 10 review

Unlike panorama it doesn't always look particularly seamless with odd distortions often appearing in the image where someone has moved or photos have overlapped. Still it's a neat concept and a decent way of bringing a scene to life for those times when video is just too 2011.

Google Nexus 10 Outside 1 sample

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Google Nexus 10 Indoor Flash Sample

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Google Nexus 10 Indoors No-Flash Sample

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Google Nexus 10 Traffic

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Google Nexus 10 Night

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Google Nexus 10 Panorama

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Google Nexus 10 Photo Sphere

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We're not sure whether Photo Sphere is much more than a novelty, but we reckon there will be occasions where it's of some use. Taking a Photo Sphere image takes a lot longer than a single photo or even a panorama - so if time is of the essence then you're best off resisting.

One bugbear that simply has to be mentioned though is with the post-shot editing options.

KitKat brings with it a new photo app in the form of Google Photos, which is essentially a shortcut to the photos section of the Google+ app.

This can open pictures taken with the Nexus 10's camera (that are stored locally on the device), presents you with a load of editing options including white balance adjustments, filters and all the rest of it, and you can also set wallpapers from here.

'What's the problem then'? you might ask. Well, the problem is that the Gallery app is also still here and offers almost exactly the same feature set minus the actual camera functionality. KitKat essentially removes the option to go straight into the Gallery app to tinker with snaps from the camera, instead directing you to the Google Photos app.

A minor gripe it may be to many, but it's one too many digital hoops to jump through if you ask me, especially when you consider that the Gallery has one of two editing options not present in Google Photos.

Video

The Google Nexus 10 can shoot video in Full HD 1080p, but as with the camera I struggle to muster much enthusiasm for it, as I can't think of many occasions when I'd find ourselves reaching for our tablet to film on rather than my phone.

Again, the one real exception is the front facing camera, as I could see that getting some use for Skype and the like, but the main video camera, not so much. Still, with just about every other tablet on the planet packing photo and video capabilities Google and Samsung would be foolish to omit it from this.

Google Nexus 10 review

The video camera's performance roughly matches photos when used indoors. It captures solid quality footage and doesn't take long to refocus when panning.

The video camera manages a reasonable amount of detail in outdoor scenes, though some of that is lost on objects in the background. Fast moving vehicles appear slightly blurred but don't come out too bad.

Battery life

The Google Nexus 10 comes with a pretty hefty 9000mAh lithium polymer battery. But although it's a big battery it's also got a big screen to power - slightly bigger even than an iPad's.

Google and Samsung are claiming that it will offer 9 hours of video, 7 hours of web browsing or 90 hours of music. They're all pretty solid figures and in general the day to day performance matched them.

Among the many non-specific improvements promised by the update to Android 4.4 and grouped under 'general performance' was a shot in the arm for battery longevity.

This didn't quite manifest itself how Google would have liked, however, and as soon as the OTA update hit devices, Nexus 10 users were taking to the web to grumble about their power levels draining even quicker than before.

Google Nexus 10 review

To be honest, I didn't experience any noticeable difference in stamina but a subsequent incremental update in the form of Android 4.4.3 is tipped to be arriving soon to fix this all the same.

For general mixed use the battery performed admirably, easily seeing out a day or more with a mix of web browsing, reading, listening to music and taking a fair few photos and videos. That's with it on all day and emails and Facebook updates being pushed to it.

But when watching videos it didn't fare quite so well, with the battery dropping by 1% every five minutes or so. I ran TechRadar's standard battery test on the tablet - turning the screen to full brightness, putting emails and social networks to push notifications and running a 90 minute video from full battery.

At the end the Nexus 10 had dropped to 71%. That's a slightly faster drop than I seemed to experience anecdotally during general use.

The only difference was the screen brightness, so it seems clear that the screen is by far the biggest drain - particularly when turned to full capacity.

Thankfully you shouldn't need it on full brightness most of the time. Plus you can set it to automatically adjust the brightness based on your environment, which is probably your best bet if you want to make sure you're always getting the best experience while maximising the Nexus 10's battery life.

Indeed with the screen off, even with music playing, it can go around 40 minutes without a noticeable drop, so the 90 hours of music claim doesn't seem too unrealistic.

The gist of all this is that battery life will depend on what you use it for, but since most tasks require having the screen on and that's such a big drain it's ultimately pretty average. Not bad enough to let the side down, but not particularly impressive either.

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Google Nexus 10 review

Verdict

The Google Nexus 10 is an incredibly important product for Google. The brand entered the tablet market with the Nexus 7, but was only really competing with other Android tablets - it was friendly competition and it was against devices that by and large had struggled to achieve much market share anyway - at least until the iPad Mini arrived.

The Google Nexus 10 had more to live up to, because it was inevitably compared to the iPad 4 and now the iPad Air, which is one of Apple's most successful products.

In short Google couldn't afford to get this wrong, so it needed to hit the ground running in the larger tablet market. And even then it was going to be an uphill struggle to make much of a dent in the iPad's sales.

Google clearly realised this, because it delivered a then top-end device with a world-class screen and a comparatively modest price tag.

We liked

The display is one of the biggest talking points on the Google Nexus 10. At 300 pixels per inch it was the highest resolution tablet display on the planet when launched, and it still stands up well now.

It's no longer quite as impressive a feat as it once seemed, but it's still enough to make it stand out from the tablet crowd.

Thanks to having such a great screen it's also superb for watching movies, web browsing and playing games on, delivering a hard to match performance for all three. Since media is such a big part of the tablet experience that's a really big deal.

It's a great performer too. Other than taking a while to process panoramic photos we never felt like it was struggling to keep up. It's fast and smooth whatever you throw at it.

Then there's the price tag, it might not be quite as rock bottom as the Google Nexus 7, but it's still a good deal cheaper than the cheapest iPad Air, which makes it substantially friendlier on the wallet.

We disliked

Let's not beat around the bush - the Google Nexus 10 isn't the most attractive device out. It's shown up by the Nexus 7 and blown away by the iPad in the appearance stakes. It doesn't look cheap as such, but it doesn't look great either.

The biggest problem though is arguably its lack of storage. There's no micro SD card slot and the biggest version you can buy is only 32GB.

If you want to load it up with movies, music and games then even with that you'll find that you quickly run out of space. Free cloud storage for music helps a little, but doesn't eradicate the problem.

Ultimately unless most of your media is streamed you're likely to run out of space and the cheaper 16GB version will feel even more limited.

The lack of a 3G or 4G version of the Nexus 10 is also disappointing. If Google wants to be able to compete with the iPad, it needs to be able to match what Apple's iPad can offer, and in this case the Nexus 10 is found lacking.

For a while I held out hope that Google and Samsung might release an updated version with 3G and possibly also 4G, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen, unfortunately.

Verdict

The Google Nexus 10 is clearly a brilliant tablet. It has high-end specs at a mid-range price, and that alone makes it deserving of attention. Add to that a generally stunning screen and near faultless performance and it really does start to look like an iPad beater.

But after spending some time with it I can't quite be as enthusiastic as I'd like. The lack of expandable storage combined with the fairly limited internal storage really hampers its media capabilities.

Since tablets are for most people a media-centric device that's a real issue and the single biggest problem with the Google Nexus 10, along with the screen offering slightly muted colours and contrast ratios.

I don't want to end on a negative note though, since most of the other problems are little more than nitpicking, and it really is an impressive device. If you want a 10.1-inch Android tablet this is still easily one of the best there is, and in this price range it's absolutely the best.

Looking away from Android we come to the biggest question - how does it fare against the iPad? The reality is the iPad Air trumps the Nexus 10 in terms of premium design and fluidity - but it comes at a cost. A really big cost.

Ultimately, other than the price, there's little reason for Apple fans to jump ship to the Nexus 10, equally the Nexus 10 puts up enough of a defence to keep the Android faithful happy.

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