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Review: Verizon Wireless Nexus 7 Android tablet

Google's Nexus 7 offers an exceptional tablet computer option.
Beth McIntire

Google's Nexus 7 offers an exceptional Android tablet computer, and Verizon Wireless's zippy 4G LTE service adds Internet connectivity when you don't have access to Wi-Fi.

The first thing you'll notice about the Nexus 7 is its bright, gorgeous screen with brilliant colors and sharp, clear text. It weighs 10.55 and measures 4.49" by 7.87" by .34" - meaning it wastes very little space, using nearly all of its frontage for screen real estate.

Made by ASUS for Google, the Nexus 7 runs Android 4.4 KitKat on a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal memory. It performs smoothly and flawlessly, whether downloading and installing apps, surfing Web sites, typing messages, reading text, watching videos or playing games. The tablet's scratch-resistant touch screen has a superb feel with perfect sensitivity.

Gorgeous display
Gorgeous display Beth McIntire

Gorgeous display

Popular games like Words with Friends and Angry Birds look phenomenal and play perfectly. Whether you're watching music videos or cute animal antics, YouTube looks fantastic and sounds great.

Reading pleasure
Reading pleasure Beth McIntire

Reading pleasure

Many consumers buy tablets at least in part for reading Amazon Kindle books, and the Nexus 7 serves that purpose swimmingly. No tablet will likely match an actual Kindle e-reader, particularly the Paper White model, for reading comfort, particularly outdoors in bright sunlight. The Nexus 7 comes pretty close, though.

Like on any tablet I've used, I turned the brightness up the whole way to read outside on the Nexus 7, and I had no trouble reading Kindle books or any other text.

Camera and battery life
Camera and battery life Beth McIntire

Camera and battery life

The Nexus 7's 5 MP rear-facing camera and 1080p HD camcorder take very nice photos rivaling many current smart phones. With the tablet's front-facing camera, you can also take 1.2 MP selfies or hold video chat sessions in 720p HD.

The device's 32 GB of memory should provide plenty of space for your apps and media files. I recommend using cloud storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive to backup your precious memories to the cloud and sync them with your computer.

The Nexus 7 even has exceptional battery life for a tablet, lasting a couple of days with moderate usage, which includes playing games. Its juice doesn't drain significantly while sitting idle and collecting emails.

Onscreen keyboard
Onscreen keyboard Beth McIntire

Onscreen keyboard

The tablet's least noteworthy feature is its onscreen keyboard - it's not terrible, just not as great as the rest of the package. It has limited multi-function keys, with the top row of letters doubling as numbers if you hold in a key. In contrast, my much-loved Samsung Galaxy Tab has the top number row common on other Android tablets.

You can, however, install a keyboard replacement from the Google Play Store if you desire. You could also skip the keyboard entirely and use Android's stellar voice recognition capabilities to dictate your messages and Web searches.

Speedy Verizon 4G LTE
Speedy Verizon 4G LTE Beth McIntire

Speedy Verizon 4G LTE

At last check, a Nexus 7 on Verizon Wireless's 4G LTE mobile network would set you back $249.99 on contract, adding about $10 a month to your existing More Everything plan, or $349.99 outright.

Verizon currently offers other fantastic 4G LTE tablets free with contract - the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and their house brand Ellipsis 7. I'm very happy with my non-LTE Galaxy Tab 2, which I've used for over a year, and was quite impressed with the 4G LTE Ellipsis 7 demo unit I tested a few months ago.

Though tablets don't come with mobile voice and texting capabilities like Verizon's phones do, try Google Voice and Hangouts as no-cost alternatives. Both let you interact for free across platforms, including Windows computers and Android phones and tablets.

The Nexus 7 has similar specs to an iPad Mini costing twice as much. If you're on the market for a tablet computer with always-on Internet, the Nexus 7 will give you many reasons to love it.