Google’s Android tablet play: the Nexus 7

When Google took to the stage last week for the firstkeynote of the Google I/O conference, everyone wanted to know more aboutJellybean…but it was the anticipation of hardware announcements that was moreexciting to a great number of Android fans.

Everyone had anticipated that Google would announce aNexus-branded tablet during the show, and they did just that with the unveilingof the Nexus 7. But Google surprised a lot of folks by announcing a newAndroid-based media-streaming device, the Nexus Q, hot on the heels of thetablet. I’ll talk more about the Nexus Q in an upcoming entry.

While it was a pretty poorly-guarded secret that Google wasgoing to be releasing its own Android tablet in collaboration withhardware-maker Asus, people were eager to find out just what form the tablet would take. Even though the predicted $199 USprice point was bang on, the hardware configuration checked in with a slightmore robust spec than expected.

The Nexus 7 tablet is named for its 7-inch screen, sportinga widescreen resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels. That’s not quite as impressiveas the Retina Display on the new iPads, but completely suitable for a 7-inchhandheld device.

Under the hood, the Nexus 7 has a bit of oomph: it comeswith the Tegra 3 chipset teamed up with a quad core CPU and 12-core GPU. Thatmeans it should be able to deliver a fair amount of performance, whether it’s generalnumber-crunching or graphics-heavy gaming.

What may be problematic for some, however, is the storage:armed with either 8GB (for $209 Cdn) or 16GB ($259 Cdn), the Nexus 7 feels abit light. And while other Android tablets come with a mini-SD expansion slot,the Nexus 7 seems to be lacking any hardware-based expansion options.

What does that mean? To put it bluntly: after installing afew apps or loading up a few videos, many users will be frustrated at the lackof space…especially those who tried to save money by choosing the 8GB model.

In some ways, this isn’t overly surprising, with Google doingits best to steer users to the cloud. During the keynote, Google stressed thatthe Nexus 7 would be “optimized for Google Play”—in fact, when you fire up thetablet, your media will be front and center. The presumption, then, is thatmuch of your content would stream directly to the tablet, instead of living onit permanently, obviating the need for higher storage capacities. Nice thought,but unfortunately it’s not how a lot of users actually work.

Now that said, the Nexus 7 does have a few other hardware goodies designed to impress. That includesa 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, and the inclusion of Near FieldCommunications, for quick and easy transfer of data with other NFC-equippeddevices. The Nexus 7 also features both WiFi and Bluetooth, but as expected atthis price point, there are no cellular data options.

The Nexus 7 will also have the distinction of being thefirst device shipped with Jelly Bean already onboard, so if you order thetablet, you’ll be among the first to get your hands on this new version ofAndroid. You can pre-order now at, but orders won’t go out until mid-July in theUS and Canada.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Sean Carruthers
Sean Carruthers
Sean Carruthers is a freelance writer, video producer and host based in Toronto, Canada. Most recently, he was a Senior Producer at, where he was responsible for the conception, writing, production and editing of a number of web video shows, including Lab Rats, How Do I?, Status Update, The Noob, and more.

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