Google unveils Nexus 7 tablet at affordable $199 pricepoint

Google a few days ago unveiled a new 7-inch tablet that looks like it wants to give the Kindle Fire a run for its money

At its annual I/O conference this past week, Google unveiled a slew of announcements, and suffice it to say, the folks over at the Googleplex are keeping extremely busy these days with their work on Android, Chrome, Google Glasses, the Nexus 7, the Nexus Q etc.

But what may very well prove to be Google's most important announcement, the search giant last week introduced a new homegrown 7-inch Nexus tablet that it manufactured in partnership with Asus.

Spec wise, the 7-inch tablet weighs just 340 grams, has a high resolution 1280x800 screen, is based on Nvidia's Tegra 3 SoC, has 1 GB of RAM, comes in 8GB or 16GB storage varieties, is NFC capable, and sells for just $199. And of course, the new flagship Android tablet runs Jellybean, the latest version of Android which by all accounts seems to be a solid upgrade.

Now that Google is looking at the tablet market in a much more serious manner, the tablet space is clearly heating up  While many may be quick to view the Nexus 7 as a competitor to the the iPad, its size and price point really positions the Nexus 7 as more of a Kindle Fire competitor. Also note that the Nexus 7 comes pre-loaded with some interesting entertainment content, including the movie "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and songs from popular artists like the Rolling Stones. What's more, Google announced that Nexus 7  purchasers will be given a $25 credit for use in the Google Play store. The takeaway here? Google is heavily pushing content consumption for its tablet, clearly going after Amazon's own strength.

Thus far, initial reviews of the Nexus 7 have been extremely enthusiastic and positive.

Nathan Olivarez-Giles of Wired, for instance, writes:

I’ve only been using it for about a day now, but the Nexus 7 is already the best 7-inch tablet I’ve ever tested. Without question, it out-classes the hugely popular Amazon Kindle Fire. It’s also a better-performing device than Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet and Nook Color, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, Toshiba’s Excite 7, and anything else out there in this size.

So it appears that Google's boldest foray yet into the tablet space may actually shake up a market that's still dominated by Apple's iPad. Many are calling it the best $200 tablet on the market. And as a quick aside, the device's battery life is nothing to scoff at - 9 hours of HD video playback and 300 hours on standby for example. Contrast this to the recently announced Microsoft Surface tablets where there was nary a mention of battery life performance, let alone an expected release date.

The Nexus 7 meanwhile will be available for pre-order with shipments expected to begin in mid-July.

The tablet market just got a whole lot more interesting, and we can only imagine how things will shake out should Apple actually release a 7-inch iPad as has previously been rumored.

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