Google unveils second-generation Nexus 7 tablet running Android 4.3

The device will be available starting next week via Google's Play Store

Google is rolling out a second-generation Nexus 7 tablet designed for improved performance and portability, featuring the company's just-announced mobile operating system, Android Jelly Bean 4.3.

The device offers numerous enhancements over the original Nexus 7 tablet that Google released last year. It is also the first device to ship with Android Jelly Bean 4.3, the latest version of Google's mobile OS, the company announced Wednesday.

The product was introduced by several Google executives during a meeting hosted by Sundar Pichai, head of Android, Chrome and apps at Google.

Improved portability, speed and graphics comprise the major enhancements to the Nexus 7 tablet. The device will be available in three models: a 16GB Wi-Fi version for US$229, a 32GB Wi-Fi model for $269, and a 32GB 4G LTE version for $349. The Wi-Fi models will be available starting Tuesday at the Google Play store, while the 4G model will be available in the coming weeks through T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon, the company said.

Besides the U.S., the new Nexus 7 will be available in Canada, the U.K., Spain, Korea and Australia, with more countries to follow very soon, Google said.

In terms of portability, the new Nexus 7 is almost 2 millimeters thinner than the original and about 50 grams lighter. The device features a 7-inch display, the same size as its predecessor, but packs in more pixels, Google said, going from 1280 x 800 to true 1080 HD at 1920 x 1200 pixels in the new model. It also can show a 30 percent wider range of colors and has dual stereo speakers for virtual surround sound.

The first partner to take advantage of the new 1080 HD video feature is Netflix, which supports video streaming in the high-quality format.

The tablet also sports dual cameras, with a 1.2-megapixel camera in the front and a 5-megapixel lens in the rear.

Internally, the Nexus 7 features a 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, giving it a four-times-more-powerful graphics processing unit than the original Nexus 7, Google said. The CPU is also 1.8 times faster, Google said, and the system memory has been doubled to support 2GB of RAM.

Specs also include dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 for powering peripheral low-energy devices.

The Android 4.3 software on the Nexus 7 also includes a new restricted profiles feature to give users more controls over who else can access certain content and apps on the device.

Since its launch last year, Google's Nexus 7 has accounted for more than 10 percent of all Android-based tablets sold, Google's Pichai said.

"Nexus 7 has been a big hit, and we're going to try to follow up with another one," said Hugo Barra, product manager at Google.

In recent years Google's product portfolio has expanded significantly beyond its bread-and-butter search technology. In recent months there has even been talk of Google opening brick-and-mortar retail stores to boost its efforts in selling hardware like tablets and also laptop computers with its Chromebooks.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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