Amid the many headlines this week, Google is rumored to release their new Nexus7 tablet, by mid to late July. Google has partnered with the steadily climbing brand of ASUS. The past success of Amazon’s Kindle Fire has given Google hope that the small screen, inexpensive tablet market is one worth jumping into. Anyone who has considered adding a tablet to their family of tech gadgets but has shied away because of the price (or even for us techies, the unsatisfying performance of most low-end tablets) might want to consider the Nexus 7.
iPad or Hybrid eReader?
The first inclination is to compare the Nexus 7 to the iPad, the most popular tablet on the market, but the truth? The Nexus 7 wasn’t made to compete with the iPad. With a starting price of just $199 and 7” screen puts it in the same circle of the major eReader hybrids: Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble’s Nook Tablet. The Nexus 7 just can’t stand up against the iPad or pricier Android tablets, but when it is $200 less it would be like comparing a Toyota Camry to a Mercedes Benz. The basic functionality is the same, but without all the flash and extras.
Hardware ahead of the rest
When it comes to hardware, the Nexus 7 outshines every other similarly priced tablet on the market. It’s faster to respond to your input, lighter weight, and has better resolution. It also offers a front-facing 1.2 megapixel camera for video chat (through Skype or Google+) that the Fire and Nook do not have.
The biggest complaint about current tablets on the market is that they typically lack the power to do much beyond surf the net and check email. Google has put a lot of innovation into getting this device to do more. It has a faster processor; a quad-core not the dual-cores offered in the Fire and Nook and Google added a dedicated graphics processor to allow images to pop up faster.
Not craving the Nexus 7 yet? Try this; it is the first mobile handheld gadget to ship with the new Android 4.1 “Jellybean” OS. They’ve added the tweak of “Project Butter” (seriously, who thinks up the names for these things?) which promises to torque up the CPU to make the OS more responsive. It uses predictive behavior to anticipate your next move and respond more quickly.
Since the main entertainment function of a tablet is to view media (be it streamed or stored on the device) and play games, display quality is a major factor. While many tablets have the 7” screen, the Nexus 7’s display resolution is superior to the rest. On the Fire or Nook, you’ll do a lot of “pinch-to-zoom” to get the smaller text on a webpage or online magazine large enough to read comfortably. The Nexus 7’s high resolution allows for smaller text to be clearer and easier to read.
The main issue with any low-priced tablet is how content is channeled through their proprietary websites. They’re really developed as just a tool to purchase content through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and now Google. If you purchase and stream content from these sources anyway, you’re going to be tied to the device that supports your library. Right now, Amazon offers the largest choice of inexpensive content, so if you’re planning to start a library I would be hard-pressed to steer you away from the Kindle Fire. While Google Play offers many of the same magazine’s as Amazon, most of them are more expensive (from a couple dollars to quite a few). Google at this point does not compete with Amazon’s library of eBooks, music and movies.
My thoughts… wait a bit. Rumors circulating are that the next generation of Kindle Fire is to be released in the next couple months. If it compares with the Nexus 7’s hardware specs you will be glad you waited, however if you don’t plan to purchase content and are just looking for a low priced tablet to surf the net, play games and read your email, the Nexus 7 is currently the best “soon to be” on the market.