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So both the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 have dynamic capacitive buttons instead of actual physical buttons. I was actually under the impression that this black bar was a separate capacitive display from the main display. Now that I actually see a Nexus 7 in person, this black bar appears to be just a part of the screen.

So am I actually getting 1280x800 pixels?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

The 1280x800 pixels count for the whole display, including the black bar for the buttons.

Google decided to stay flexible by moving physical buttons to the touch screen permanently.

Benefits:

  • No capacitive buttons needed (cheaper?)
  • Better user experience: Rotating 90,180,270 degrees rotates also the virtual buttons
  • Less frame space (the button's space belongs to the screen now)
  • You can hide the buttons in full view (e.g., video playing)
  • Maybe: Avoid Apples infamous rectangle with a single button tablet design patent
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