Sounds as though the N7 is a good candidate for a ROM that retains the stock config but without the running services responsible for the drain. I'd expect devs at XDA to be all over that, as you strapping young people say.
Re Google Now: Can't it be turned off in the settings menu? I read that on a web page somewhere, so it has to be true!
(Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to check the reading on my sarcasmometer.)