Tablets and smartphones that run on NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 SoC were badly received two years back due to thermal and performance issues. Last year, NVIDIA announced its Tegra 4 SoC which is a much more efficient chip with significant performance improvements, and we finally get to have a hands on with the SoC on Gigabyte’s Tegra Note 7, a powerful 7-inch Android tablet with a built-in stylus.

The Tegra Note 7 features a magnetic cover that can be used in three different viewing angles.

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Video Review

First Impressions

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The Tegra Note 7 is an official NVIDIA reference tablet manufactured by Gigabyte, the tablet’s design is clearly positioned at gamers, with it’s rugged-like textured back cover and a black colour chassis, the tablet sure looks handsome when carrying it around. The 7-inch tablet weighs 320g and has a thickness of 9.4mm, while not the lightest tablet around, it does have a solid and reliable feeling. The Tegra Note 7 is meant to be a work and entertainment powerhouse, with its dual frontal stereo speakers, built-in microHDMI port and expandable microSD storage.

Gigabyte Tegra Note 7 Specifications

Processor: 4+1 Core NVIDIA Tegra 4 1.8GHz
RAM: 1GB
Storage: 16GB built-in, expandable via MicroSD
Display: 7-inch IPS 1280×800 resolution with NVIDIA DirectStylus
Camera: 5MP Main HDR Camera, 0.3MP Front-facing camera
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, AGPS, WiFi B/G/N, Miracast, USB OTG, HDMI 1.3
Battery: 4100mAh
Other features: Dual frontal stereo speakers with NVIDIA PureSound, Built-in stylus

Best in class Android experience on a 7-inch tablet

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After the 2013 Nexus 7, we’ve never seen another 7-inch tablet performing as good as it. The Tegra Note 7 may not have the best display quality, its touch responsiveness is superbly accurate and smooth, the WXGA resolution isn’t too bad to look at while we were certainly spoilt with 1080p screens, it doesn’t make sense to put such a display in a high performance gaming tablet.

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The Tegra Note 7 ships with a stock version of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, our unit here has been upgraded to the official Android 4.4.2 KitKat update from the start of our review. If you love the stock Android experience, you will fall in love with the Tegra Note 7, thanks to performance optimizations on KitKat, the tablet is able to run every app smoothly and reliably despite having a meagre 1GB of RAM, we still face refreshes at times but speed of recovery is really fast. While most of the operating system has been kept at its original state, Gigabyte does add on some customizations which makes full use of NVIDIA’s technology.

NVIDIA DirectStylus and Built-in Stylus

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NVIDIA DirectStylus is a feature which involves both hardware and software, taking the stylus out of the tablet reviews a launcher which lets you add any of your favorite stylus usable apps. Gigabyte included a drawing and note taking app in the launcher, which works pretty well with the stylus.

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While the built-in stylus isn’t able to perform “Air View” features like you see on Samsung’s GALAXY Note series, it is one of the most impressive stylus that we’ve used to date. The curved tip on the stylus makes it easy to perform thin and thick curves in drawing, and writing notes is as very natural as if you’re using a pen. Most importantly, the length of the stylus fits into your hand perfectly.

Dual frontal stereo speakers with NVIDIA Puresound

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The dual frontal stereo speakers on the tablet makes us think instantly of HTC’s Boomsound speakers, and they seriously look alike.

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One extra thing that Gigabyte has added is a tiny subwoofer beneath the tablet. NVIDIA’s PureSound technology makes the speakers really nice to hear,

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they may not produce low frequencies as well as HTC’s Boomsound, sound played from the speakers is clear and undistorted even at high volumes, and the tiny subwoofer does its job well in making a little bit of oomph.

HDR Camera

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When we saw the Tegra Note 7’s keynote, the company mentioned that the sensor is a hardware based HDR camera, which aims to produce pictures with more realistic colors than other camera sensors.

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Firstly, we are truly impressed with the camera software (named “Awesome Camera”), the camera app gives users lots of customisations and shooting modes, some of which includes stabilisation, burst shots, and even gives you a stabilisation grid. Therefore, we’ve put on very high hopes on the camera to expect some fantastic pictures coming out from a tablet.

Unfortunately, we were underwhelmed, although the tablet’s HDR feature does its job well in making some great colours on pictures, we think it can be too saturated at times and most pictures came out to be quite grainy which doesn’t make sense for a 5-Megapixel camera. Check out sample pictures down below and you be the judge.

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Video recording is also average to us, which most of the time the camera tends to refocus itself on the video and frame rates can sometimes be unstable.

Gaming

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Gaming is obviously the Tegra Note 7’s strength as it runs almost any game that is available on Android. Playing Tegra optimized games isn’t all about smooth frame rates, but it is all about emphasizing on graphics quality and detail.

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The Tegra Note 7 is simply the best gaming tablet that we’ve used to date, the size and the ergonomics makes it nice to hold thetablet for long hours. Best of all, the tablet stays warm when fully loaded.

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Unfortunately, the number of Tegra optimized apps are still very limited on Tegra Zone, which most titles are already a year old, an avid gamer could’ve easily finish them all. We hope NVIDIA will get more game developers to make their titles to be THD certified.

Benchmarks and Power Consumption

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Benchmarks on the Tegra Note 7 shows scores on par with Snapdragon 800 devices, the Tegra 4 SoC impressed us and proves how significant the improvements are over its predecessor.

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The Tegra Note 7 scores 34865 points on Antutu and 15379 points on Quadrant Standard Edition.

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Power consumption on the Tegra Note 7 is reasonably good, with a 4100mAh battery onboard, the tablet is able to last a day and a half with 2-3 sessions on gaming with an average of 30 minutes per session, web browsing, Spotify music streaming and watching 15 minutes of YouTube videos. The tablet lasts less than 3 days on very lightweight usage.

Verdict

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Gigabyte has made the Tegra Note 7 a really capable device, it is the best performing 7-inch tablet we’ve ever seen to date after the 2013 Google Nexus 7. The tablet isn’t perfect in everything, as in display and imaging capabilities, it still managed to serve us as a great and reliable companion during our review period, we would love to see the LTE version of the Tegra Note 7 coming up soon. Additionally, we really hope that Gigabyte make the tablet’s availability here as this will be the most affordable and powerful Android tablet, given that it is being priced at NTD$6990 (RM760) at Taiwan. Here’s a summary of what’s good and bad.

The Good:

+ Affordable

+ Solid and reliable build quality with great ergonomics designed for gaming

+ Powerful performance by Tegra 4 SoC

+ Stock Android experience

+ OS updates directly from NVIDIA

+ NVIDIA Puresound optimized dual frontal stereo speakers

+ NVIDIA DirectStylus display ensures accurate stylus input with reduced delay

+ Gaming graphics top notch with Tegra optimized games

+ Optional smart case allows tablet to be used in different angles

+ Built-in HDMI port and Miracast display

+ Reasonably good battery life

The Bad:

– Outdated display technology

– 1GB RAM causes refresh at times

– Overhyped camera performance

– Tegra optimized games limited in Tegra Zone

– Limited stylus optimized apps

We rate the NVIDIA Tegra Note 7 at 4 out of 5 stars.

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