The Google Nexus 7 Tablet

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What does the introduction of the Google Nexus 7 Android tablet mean to the tablet industry as a whole? Paired with the changes in the Android OS, it could mean a lot to players like Amazon, which now has serious competition in their Kindle Fire tablet arena, but it could also mean quite a bit to giants like Apple, Microsoft and ASUS.

We recently told you about the Infinity Pad, and gushed over its feature-rich assortment of bells and whistles, and we unequivocally stated that it might be the best Android tablet available. But that was a 10.1-inch tablet with an optional keyboard dock that replicates (but does not reproduce) a notebook experience. This Nexus 7 measures 7 inches. Like the Kindle Fire. Like the Nook.

But unlike those products, the Nexus runs much faster (with quad-core Tegra 3 chips), does much more (using the latest OS, Jelly Bean) and you can still read books and watch movies via selected Android apps. The announcement today that this 16GB tablet is priced at less than $250 throws a bucket of water on the Fire and nukes the Nook (an 8GB Nexus 7 also exists; B&H will carry only the 16GB version). Google also announced new additions to Google Play, its content warehouse, including magazine subscription deals with Hearst, Wired, Vanity Fair and Esquire. In addition to this, it also announced a revamped and recreated Google Play store full of new movies, TV shows and more. You have the option to rent or buy, and buying a movie allows you to watch it across several different media (PC, tablet, phone, etc). You can even download TV shows for offline viewing.

The Nexus 7 also has a sound widget that identifies a song, and then sends you to the Google store to buy it. And it ships with Google Chrome as the browser, which elicited a long round of applause from attendees at the Google i/o Conference. Also announced is the fact that the tablet is optimized for YouTube and HD YouTube, so it looks outstanding right from the start.

The GPS system on the Nexus allows turn-by-turn navigation, and also feeds you information about bars and restaurants, but amazingly, you can also see inside the bar or restaurant. You tap the “See Inside” link and turn on the compass mode, and the gyroscope-enabled Nexus will show you an interior view of the establishment. Google+ Local will use Zagat reviews for information on hot spots and eateries.

Google Currents is also offered, which gives you a slate of individualized websites or magazines on the bottom of the screen. Simply swipe through the selection, and stay updated on current events. Google has even linked up its Google Translate engine to help you translate your reading selections with a finger swipe.

Unless there is a serious upgrade to its product (besides offering an ecosystem of content), the Kindle Fire and Nook may be trounced today. Both those tablets run older, obsolete versions of Android OS, and they are not armed with a powerful quad-core chip, which made the gaming demos almost surreal. But if Google does show a modicum of success with the Nexus, Microsoft will also have to take a long hard look at pricing.

Sales will tell us where the bottom line on the tablet industry will steer. Sell two million units of the Nexus, and Microsoft may want to switch gears and consider selling the Surface below production costs.  Sell three million and Apple may strategize that they also need a smaller, cheaper iPad. Sell ten million and the Android tablet industry will belong to Google. Is the ten million mark inaccessible? According to some sources, the Kindle Fire has already sold 5 million units of the Fire since launch and the Nook sold more than a million units—since the holiday season of 2011, people; six months ago. And the Apple iPad has sold, to date, more than 50 million units. Amazon and Barnes & Noble must be shaking in their books right now, although it’s rumored that Amazon has a Kindle Fire 2 ready for a July release.

Anything is possible in the wide-open world of the tablet market. And the Nexus 7 just opened up a wider world of possibilities.

Screen 7” 1280x800 HD display (216 ppi)
Back-lit IPS display
Scratch-resistant Corning glass
1.2MP front-facing camera
CPU Quad-core Tegra 3 processor
Memory 16GB internal storage, 1GB RAM
Battery 4325 mAh (Up to 8 hours of active use)
OS Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
Wireless Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth
USB Micro USB
Features Microphone
NFC (Android Beam)
Accelerometer
GPS
Magnetometer
Gyroscope
Size 7.8 x 4.7 x 0.41" (198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm)
Weight 12 oz (340 g)

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Is the harddrive expandable? Can I load pictures of an SD card? Can the tablet be viewed in landscape mode? When I need an new battery, do I have to mail the device to you, canada or usa?

Does the Nexus play embedded music and film in an enhanced book as does the iPad with it's multi-touch multimedia ibooks? The Kindle Fire does not. Wondering if the Nexus has the capability to do so.