Nvidia Tegra Note Review Round Up

Nvidia madenvidia tegra note the tech blogosphere drool when they unveiled their 7" Android tablet 2 months ago just by talking about the basic specs, and now that the early reviews are out I think it lives up to the hype.This tablet is equipped with Nvidia Tegra 4 CPU, 16GB of storage, a stylus, and specs that place this tablet a close second to the Nexus 7 (2013) - aside from the 1280 x 800 resolution screen.

This tablet is going to be available from partners including HP, Zotac, Dixons (under their Advent brand), PNY, and others. The Advent Vega Tegra Note 7 is available now; I don't know when the others will hit the market.

Update: This tablet is up for pre-order through Newegg; retail is $199 and it ships next week.

The overall consensus of the reviewers is that this is a pretty good tablet which would be a great tablet if only it had a higher resolution screen, weighed less, and didn't have such disappointing build quality.

As small stylus tablets go, you have only two viable options right now: the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and the EVGA Tegra Note 7. The Note 8 overall offers a more fulfilling stylus experience, with more accurate palm detection, a higher quality screen, and an overall interface that feels better integrated into the OS. However, I still feel the Note 8 is about $50 to $75 overpriced, and that's where the Tegra Note 7 demonstrates its worth.

I really like this thing. It tics all my checkboxes, with a great price, great performance, excellent active stylus support and not a ton of feature-bloat that I'll never use. But it's not going to suit everybody.

Pros that are also cons

  • It's a bare bones build of Android
  • It has a Tegra 4 processor, so updates will entirely depend on Nvidia or a change of heart about their GPU openness.
  • It has a 1280 x 800 screen

With the price bump to the Nexus 7, I can confidently say this is the best tablet you can buy under $200. If you like to play 3D games, or want stylus support built in to your next tablet, or just want to try and get your money's worth from your purchase, the Tegra Note is for you.

Nvidia's first attempt at a tablet definitely isn't a bad one. It offers up a gaming-centric alternative to the Nexus 7 with some Samsung-style pen functionality. Value for money, as seems to be the trend now with 7-inch Android tablets, is exceptional. The Tegra Note performs admirably in anything you throw at it, and the included CameraAwesome app is great.

That said, the Tegra Note's screen could do with being a touch better. Build quality is more than adequate at this price point, but there were moments when the viewing angles and lack of punch in the display left us wanting something better. Really, though, for the money it's an impressive device. A great start from Nvidia - and one that has us excited for whatever hardware the company produces next.

In addition of providing a great gaming experience, the Tegra Note 7 also earns its name by bringing a very good pen experience to the sub-$200 market segment. Prior to this, the only game in town was Samsung, and that was not one that everyone could afford. Now, there’s really a pen option for everyone. If the design and build quality of this device was on par with the Nexus 7, it would have been a “killer product”, but I feel like the N7 still has an edge there. The Tegra Note 7 design makes smart choices: to reach $199, the screen is not as fancy as the best out there, and the tablet is a little heavier than it looks. But if you care about Android gaming, or if you just want a very fast multimedia tablet, it’s a great option which comes with a “stock Android” experience, which means that updates should come fast.

NVIDIA's Tegra Note 7 undercuts the refreshed Nexus 7 by $30 and comes in at just $199 from partners who will soon be making them available to shoppers. But that $30 savings comes at a price – that dollar amount means you lose the high DPI display, 5 GHz WiFi connectivity, get slower internal storage, and trade some battery life off. What you do get in its stead is what we've touched on – an even faster hardware platform with faster CPU and GPU, reasonably well executed note taking capabilities, and audio that sounds better, even if it isn't necessarily louder. Like anything, which combination of tradeoffs is "better" really is a story of tradeoffs.

This has to be frustrating for NVIDIA, because with Tegra Note 7 it has arguably built the original Nexus 7's spiritual successor, though I couldn't imagine Google ever being happy without a high resolution display. What it has done however is give all of its partners a tablet that they can sell, bundle, and use to differentiate their current lineups. I suspect building NVIDIA's brand in the mobile space and at the same time making the traditional GPU partners happy with a tablet platform they can somewhat call their own is the real success story for Tegra Note.

For all of the Tegra Note's struggles, we appreciate how challenging it is for a manufacturer to build a spectacular $200 tablet and still be profitable. Google sells the Nexus 7 for only $30 more, but the company's Nexus devices typically sell at a price that isn't much more than its total build cost. With this in mind, NVIDIA has done a great job making Tegra 4 less expensive and available to the masses. However, this means it could only do so by making some compromises.

Aside from build quality woes, though, the Note performs well. If you're in the market for an inexpensive 7-inch tablet, there are two scenarios in which you'd want to get a Tegra Note: you play a large number of games, especially graphic-intensive ones, and/or you need a smaller, inexpensive tablet that comes with an intuitive stylus. Outside of that, it needs a lighter, thinner and more elegant design and a higher-res display to enhance the stellar gaming performance and become a lot more tempting. Oh, and one more thing: can we do something about the name

The tablet market is a crowded one: you have to offer something special to stand out. Usually that’s either price, or design, or some specific functionality rivals don’t offer, and interestingly NVIDIA has aimed for not one but two of those factors. The Tegra Note 7 isn’t going to win any prizes for its design or the quality of its plastics, but it’s impressively cheap and the DirectStylus technology is certainly clever.

For those resolutely committed to digital note-taking or artwork on their tablet, an active digitizer is still the pinnacle of mobile penmanship. That precision comes at a price, however, and it’s now one that casual note-takers needn’t extend to: the Tegra Note 7 does sufficiently well at just $199. Throw in its potency as a gaming machine (and, even if you’re not a gamer, the usefulness of being able to control media playback from the sofa with a low-cost gamepad) and you have a capable little slate with the flexibility of untampered Android.

About Nate Hoffelder (10619 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

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