Every year Google hosts an I/O developers conference in San Francisco, California. It’s where the search engine giant tends to shows off what they have planned for their Android operating system for the year ahead.
Well this year not only did Google show off the latest version of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, they also unveiled the world’s first Nexux tablet, called the Nexus 7. Made alongside Asus it’s squarely aimed at taking on a perceived threat from Amazon’s Kindle Fire, and to a certain extent the iPad as well.
A Change of Direction ?
Google’s engineering director, Chris Yerga, sang the praises of the Nexus 7 as a serious gaming device and because of its small size meant it was “ideal for emailing, browsing the web and downloading applications”.
The new tablet will be the first device to be running Google’s next iteration of their Android operating system, codenamed Jelly Bean – the tablet comes with a 1.3 megapixel camera – unlike the Kindle Fire – and is available with 8GB of memory (£159) or 16GB (£199).
Last year Google released a tablet-specific version of Android: Honeycomb 3.0, while it saw decent sales of around 10 million last year. It’s clear that Honeycomb barely made a dent in Apple’s marketshare, who sold 30 million iPad’s in the same period. This new tablet sees a change in direction for Google as they’re seemingly going after the budget end of the market now.
It’s obvious Google has noticed the success of the Kindle Fire – which was sold at below $200, with each unit making a slight loss – and thought that’s the best way to try and penetrate the market. It’s a shrewd move, and having clearly worked for the Kindle Fire, they’re hoping it works for the Nexus 7.
Microsoft has also indicated that it thinks tablets are of growing importance. Last week the software giant announced that it would be offering its own tablet, called Surface, which will run its next Windows 8 operating system – though it offered no dates or prices for the release. Windows 8 is expected in the autumn, probably in October.
How Much Bang For Your Buck ?
The new 7-inch tablet is aimed at users who are just looking for a device to do some light internet work and media consumtption – but what do you actually get for your hard earned?
Well quite a bit as it happens, the tablet comes with a 1280×800 IPS touchscreen – it’s obviously not going to worry Apple’s Retina department, but credit goes to Asus and Google as the screen on the Nexus 7 is punching well above its weight considering the low price point.
Not only does the screen come with a fairly impressive resolution, it’s also capable of wide-angle viewing up to 172-degrees – meaning watching films and the like should be more than serviceable.
Even more impressive than the screen is the decision to include Nvidia’s Tegra 3 quad core processor, which comes with their 12 core GPU – there’s a decent 1GB of RAM onboard, too – keep everything nice and snappy.
For your money you’ll get 7-inch tablet that will last 8-hours on a single charge and Asus reckons you should expect up to 300 hours on standby – it’s unusual to see a battery of this caliber on a device with this low price point.
You’ll also get the advantage of Nvidia’s clever core switching, this means the device will use the “companion core” when the tablet is only doing less intensive processes – meaning less battery drain.
The Asus Nexus 7 tablet is very compact for its size, measuring just 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm. On top of that it weighs in at just 340g, around half that of the new iPad.
There’s a 1.3 megapixel camera on the front, but no camera on the back – although this isn’t that surprising considering the low price point.
Where things begin to fall apart is expansion and connections; there’s no HDMI or SD card slot – but you’re afforded the luxury of a micro USB – unfortunately there’s no 3G but there is of course Wi-Fi b/g/n.
NFC and Android Beam will feature inside the Nexus 7 meaning you can tap it against other Android Jelly Bean phones to share photos and videos and pair it with compatible speakers to stream music too.
Price, Availability and Release Date
Google is already taking orders on their Google Play Store, and it will begin shipping to the US, UK, Canada and Australia in July, priced £159 for the 8GB and £199 for the 16GB version. The wait on pre-orders is currently 2-3 weeks, but those who pre-order now will get £15 to spend on apps, movies and books in the Play Store, and a digital download of Transformers: Dark of the Moon.