Any hardware with the eVGA logo slapped on it should imply it is designed for gaming. That is certainly true of the Tegra Note 7. It has several attributes of a gaming device: it’s powerful, fast, and easy on the eyes and ears. For a tablet in its class, it’s heavy. This is an advantage as it provides some needed heft to reduce hand fatigue and prolong your gaming duration. Another oddity for it’s class, is the $200 price tag. Other mid-sized tablets, such as the Lenovo Miix 2 and iPad Mini, have MSRP of $300-$350. While I’m not sure what is driving such a low price for the Tegra Note, the key difference between these tablets is their respective operating systems. I have not avoided the Android OS, but I certainly never saw the appeal. Sure, it’s an OS created by Google – a company that has become synonymous with the Internet (and our data). After some time with the eVGA Tegra Note 7, I’ve realized the battle for the right tablet really comes down to a battle of ecosystems. Whichever provider can make your data work for you, and do it well, has a right to that data. But you’ll need a good battery life to access that data.
The Note is designed for comfort. While heavier and thicker than other tablets in it’s class, it feels like a wise design choice. The sturdy feeling and rubber back plating makes this the most comfortable 7″ tablet I’ve owned. There are 2 speakers, visibly located at the top and bottom of the tablet when held vertically. Volume buttons are on the right and next to the MicroSDXC slot, which holds up to 64GB. On the top, near the camera, is a power port, HDMI out, headphone jack, and the power button. The only other feature to point out is the conveniently located stylus sheath located at the bottom of the device. In a world with Apple, Samsung and Amazon all competing for beautiful tablet designs, it’s surprising to find the Note as unattractive as it is. Maybe the heft and bulky design were intentional to be more comfortable for gaming and entertainment. Or, maybe they marketing this device well considering. You may be a tablet user that wants to show off owning a tablet. In that case, don’t consider the Note. This is for gamers, students and those on a budget.
Underneath the hood of this 7-inch tablet is a quad-core Tegra 4 chipset, 1 GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. 11GB of that storage is available out of the box, even with Android installed. This is in stark contrast to Windows tablets where you’re lucky to have 5GB free out of the box on a 16GB device. Full specs below:
- Dimensions: 7.83 x 4.69 x 0.38 inches
- Weight: 11.29 oz
- Screen size: 6.97 inches
- Screen resolution: 1,280 x 800 pixels (217 ppi)
- Screen type: IPS
- Chipset: 1.8GHz Tegra 4
- RAM: 1GB
- OS: Android 4.2.2 (stock)
- Battery: 15.17 Whr
- Internal storage: 16GB
- External storage: MicroSDXC, up to 64GB
- Rear camera: 5MP, AF
- Front camera: 0.3MP
- Video capture: 1080p
- Bluetooth: version 4.0+LE
- WiFi: Dual-band 802.11b/g/n
The Note came pre-loaded with Android 4.2.2. I’ve since upgraded it to 4.3 which took away some key SD-card management functions. Consequently, to transfer files to and from the 32GB SD card I purchased for this device, I have to use a PC. That’s crazy to me. While this isn’t a Tegra-issue, it’s an Android issue and a reality of owning this device. Otherwise, software management is a breeze thanks to Google Play. I love that I can buy software from the Google Play store on any device and then it downloads to my Tegra Note without further effort. Unlike the SD issue, I don’t have to be near my tablet or with my Micro SD card to transfer the data. Nvidia loaded the Note with the Tegra Store. A place to see the apps and games designed with the Tegra platform in mind. Everything here is a subset of what you’ll find in Google Play. Even with the “Tegra” filter, it’s not very useful. Most of what you’ll find are games optimized for the Nvidia Shield – the real platform of choice if you want to play any of these games. I purchased several games and nothing rocked my world. Granted, that could be a “me issue” and not an average user’s issue.
The real draw for me is the stylus. It’s extremely comfortable and tucks into the device when not in use. No need to carry it around in your bag and spend minutes trying to find it when you need it. I used this to take notes during several business meetings. Like all note-taking devices, the end results are somewhat messy when compared to typed notes. But, you can’t beat the ability to articulate your thoughts with a drawing. Using the included software from Nvidia, at the moment you pull the stylus out of the sheath you’re asked to select which software to launch (this is user adjustable). It’s easy to use and the stylus writes very well.
As I’ve written above, I’m new to Android. In my non-tablet computing life, I am a Windows power-user and a fan of most Linux distros. I spent 2 years trying to decipher why so many people love Mac OS X, but I came up short. I like the openness of Linux and the configurable nature of Windows. Mac OS feels too closed to me. Yet, my cell phone and tablet experiences have been mostly powered by Apple. It had always come down to apps, even though I mostly use the devices for web browsing or cellular communication. What I’ve learned from the Tegra Note 7, which runs Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2, is there is a whole world out there where the data Google has collected about me can work to my advantage. A tablet or phone can work for me by providing data that is relevant or at least cool. For example, I was blown away when the tablet notified be, via Google Now, of the score of the Trailblazers vs. Jazz game. I didn’t know how Google knew I was a Blazers fan. Maybe it’s a combination of my location and that I’ve received ticket receipt emails over the years. That’s an example of cool. An example of helpful is when Google Now dropped my boarding pass for an upcoming flight right onto my home screen. Which brings me to widgets. I love them.
The Tegra Note 7 is a solid tablet that feels good in your hands for a prolonged period of time. While it won’t rock your world from a design and software perspective, it does offer the same catalog of software as other Android tablets at a ow price. Unfortunately, it’s not the gaming savior it’s branded to be. Lastly, the battery life leaves much to be desired. Even on standby this device doesn’t last more than 3 days. That’s unacceptable. For more hardware reviews, click the category link above.