Thousands of developers attending Google I/O and over a hundred thousand more tech heads watching from the comfort of their computers, were present for the unveiling of the company’s latest products and were able to witness, or in some cases experience, Google’s latest projects. As is customary for these annual events, many devs were expectantly waiting for the reveal of the latest hardware to follow the announcement of the most up to date version of the company’s mobile OS: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
As suspected, Google didn’t disappoint and the long-rumoured Nexus tablet was produced on stage, dubbed the Google Nexus 7. Aside from being the first Google tablet to bear the Nexus name, the Nexus 7 was also the first partnership product between Google and Asus. Previously, Nexus products had been produced by either HTC or more recently Samsung.
The Nexus 7’s presence in the mobile space is already strong despite sales of the tablet not starting until the month’s end, but already cracks are starting to show in a package that many perceived to make it the Android tablet of choice in 2012. The attraction that surrounds the Nexus 7, aside from being one of two devices able to run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean from the get go, is its price. Considering the internal hardware capabilities toted by Google, the price point of the Nexus 7 is deceptively attractive. The smaller 8GB model will retail for just £159 in the UK with the larger 16GB version selling for £199 when the tablet arrives later this month.
What does your money actually buy you though? The Nexus 7's NVIDIA Tegra 3 has been heralded as the go-to processor for the top Android tablets right now, but this is a notion that stretches back into 2011, with Nexus 7 creators Asus making use of it in their own-brand Transformer tablets, starting with the Prime. The Nexus 7's Tegra chip mirrors that of Asus’ TF300 Series, although it uses less expensive RAM which offer the same speeds. In the smartphone world, Samsung have already demonstrated that NVIDIA's prized quad-core mobile processor is losing its edge, by the comparisons drawn from both their Galaxy S3 and HTC's One X flagship which makes use of the older chip.
Of course processor alone isn't enough to disqualify a tablet purchase such as this, but what about its other hardware. A lack of expandable memory, no rear facing camera and no means of video output place the Nexus 7’s price tag into better perspective over its rivals. What’s more Google failed to point out that international licensing limits user’s access to Google owned content outside of the US. As we mentioned earlier this week, Google Music, TV shows and magazines all fail to appear on Google Play for those outside of the States, which effectively cuts off 50% of the content users may want as part of the price.
The Nexus 7 is a good tablet, it’s powerful, affordable and accessible, but the trick Google have pulled here is making users think it’s new. The reason it costs the same as last year’s products do now is because it uses last year’s hardware. At the price point, it won’t disappoint, but it isn’t the game changing device that many now think it must be.