Nvidia Tegra Note 7 Review

The seven-inch tablet market is a bit of a paradox. It’s seemingly overpopulated, yet few tablets have been able to compete with the class-standard Google Nexus 7. Nvidia hopes to change that with the introduction of the Tegra Note 7.

Rather than simply providing the hardware and reference specifications, Nvidia has opted to produce a standalone tablet platform for use by its partner brands like EVGA. So, are the results good enough to unseat King Nexus?

Hands-On Impressions

The most immediately noticeable aspect of the Tegra Note 7 is not a positive one: it’s big. At 7.8-by-4.7-by-0.38 inches, it’s nearly 0.2 inches wider and 0.04 inches thicker than the Nexus 7. That doesn’t sound like a huge difference, but the difference is evident in a head-to-head tablet comparison.

It’s also nearly an ounce heavier than the Nexus, tipping the scales at a beefy 0.71 lb / (320 g) ounces. Unfortunately, although it feels comfortable enough to hold, it doesn’t feel as solid and durable as the Nexus or Apple’s iPad Mini.

Tablet Tour

Compared to tablets like the iPad Mini, there’s a lot going on around the Tegra Note’s edges. Arrayed along the top edge are micro-USB and micro-HDMI sockets, a 3.5-millimeter headphone plug and a power button.

The right edge sports your standard volume rocker and an uncovered microSD slot. The reverse side is largely occupied by a long strip that serves as an attachment point for the cleverly-designed optional smart cover.

The bottom, meanwhile, is home to the stylus holder and a grille for the bass speaker. Two front-facing speakers are placed on the front face of the device.

The Competition

Comparing tablets with the iPad Mini with Retina or the Kindle Fire HDX7, the Tegra Note 7’s panel is inoffensive but unimpressive. At 1,280-by-800, it’s more in line with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0.

It’s sharp enough to get the job done, but it pales in comparison to high-resolution displays. The color reproduction seems a bit washed out, and it lacks the sheer vividness found on higher-end panels. The viewing angles are quite good, however, and there’s nothing the display really does terribly wrong.

Under the Hood

Being manufactured by Nvidia, it should come as no surprise that the Tegra Note 7 delivers fantastic performance compared to tablets in its class. The 1.8-gigahertz Cortex-A15 Tegra 4 chip offers four high-performance cores, as well as a fifth, low-power core that handles more menial operations.

Even more impressive is the 72-core GPU, which delivers arguably the best graphics you’ll find on any tablet, anywhere. It’s just a shame that this raw power isn’t put to better use with a high-resolution display.

Tablet Roundup

It’s hard to know what to make of the Nvidia Tegra Note 7. On one hand, the construction quality and display pale in comparison to tablets such as the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HDX 7 and iPad Mini with Retina. All three offer far superior panels and premium construction.

On the other hand, the Tegra Note delivers extraordinary graphics and overall performance. It also features a DirectStylus, which works just as well as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0’s S Pen for a considerably lower cost.

Its low price is bound to be an appealing factor and, along with the Nexus 7, the relatively unfettered Android and Google Play experience is an advantage over the Kindle Fire’s more restrictive Amazon ecosystem.

The iPad Mini with Retina display is superior in many ways, but the price difference is even more significant.