Google Unveils $199 Quad-core Nexus 7 Android Tablet

Wednesday, Google announced a brand-new Android tablet that not only features Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but a quad-core Tegra 3 processor wrapped into a compact tablet that costs just $199.

So, what’s the twist? At 7″, the Nexus 7 is being promoted strictly as a content consumption device as opposed to a content creation device that many productive types are searching for. It doesn’t exactly stand out against third-party tablets like the Transformer Prime or the Sony Tablet S, but it does indeed give the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet a run for their money.

During the unveiling, I joined Chris Pirillo and John McKinlay on our YouTube Live stream to offer some personal commentary to the announcement. LockerGnome’s founder, Chris Pirillo, ordered a 16 GB Nexus 7 ($249) within minutes of the announcement. He’s not alone. Craighton Miller, another member of the LockerGnome team, placed his order during the event as well.

What could cause such an instant “take my money” response from two fairly frugal geeks? Simply put, it was the right price for the right gadget. A Tegra 3 processor in a budget tablet is hard to come by, and everything Google announced today regarding Android 4.1 Jelly Bean answered some of the lingering concerns facing potential switchers.

Screen

Shipping in mid-July, the Nexus 7 sports a 1280×800 7″ display with an impressive pixel density of about 216 PPI. While it might not be a Retina display, it certainly delivers a significant boost in density over the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablets, both featuring 169 PPI.

Battery Life

The Nexus 7 boasts a significant active battery life of up to eight hours and over 300 hours stand-by. That’s no small figure, especially considering the power under the hood.

At the event, Google explained that a patented 4-PLUS-1 CPU design allows power to be pushed to the CPU when it’s needed and pulled when it isn’t. That means your battery doesn’t drain as much when you’re doing small tasks like surfing the Web or reading a book.

Design

The device itself is fairly sleek and easy on the eyes. The back features sizable Nexus and Asus logos and a patterned grip across a plastic exterior. The front of the device looks a lot like a shrunken iPad. A black bezel, front-facing camera, and a scratch-resistant Corning glass covers the entirety of the front.

Volume controls can be found along the right side of the device, along with a slender power button which doubles as a locking mechanism. You won’t find any hardware home button on this tablet. As with most Android tablets, the control buttons are controlled by software and located in a static location on along the bottom of the screen in either orientation.

Power

The Nexus 7 sports a quad-core Tegra 3 processor. This may not be a first for an Android tablet, but it is a strong contrast to the Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 dual-core processor found in the similarly priced and sized Kindle Fire.

One of the questions standing out in my mind is whether or not Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will take full advantage of all four cores. Either way, this is as close to future proof as you can get at this price in the tablet market today.

Graphics is another power point with the Nexus 7. A 12-core GPU gives enough graphics processing power to the Nexus 7 to open the door to more full-featured games on the platform. In short, this is no slouch of a tablet. In fact, the official Nexus 7 site declares it a tablet “designed with gaming in mind.”

Other Features

Asus has put a lot of great features into the Nexus 7. In addition to impressive central and graphics processing, the tablet also includes some extras such as NFC (enhanced for Google Beam), accelerometer, GPS, magnetometer, a gyroscope, and a built-in microphone for video conferencing and voice search/dictation.

Wireless b/g/n and Bluetooth are standard features on Android tablets.

With 1 GB of RAM, it certainly has enough memory to handle most basic consumption tasks required on the platform. You probably won’t be editing much video on it, but you could still play some fairly advanced games available on Google Play.

A 1.2 MP front-facing camera makes video calls and Google+ Hangouts more interesting. There is no back-facing camera, which can be a disappointment if you happen to be one of the few folks who prefer to take photos with a tablet.

The Nexus 7 lacks 3G/4G capabilities, giving it limited functionality on the road. This is strictly a content consumption device, so its place would likely be next to your couch rather than on the road as your primary communication device.

A stereo headphone jack and built-in speaker along the back of the device makes for a pretty standard device for audio/video entertainment.

Final Thoughts

The Nexus 7 isn’t a true competitor in the high-end tablet market, but it does pack enough power to fit the needs of most users. You can browse the Web on Google Chrome (the default browser in Android 4.1), check email, listen to music, watch movies, and enjoy any of the 600,000+ apps available on Google Play.

If you’re looking for great bang for your buck, this could be the “best” tablet on the market today. Just don’t expect the “best” experience across the board. It would be difficult to put the Nexus 7 against the Transformer Prime, but it does a great job of putting the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet to shame.

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • Ar Grover

    I was all about to order one when I read that it does not have 3G/4G capabilities- whats up with that?

    • Dan

      It’s a $200 tablet!

      Tether that sucker!

  • Hicham El-boualaye

    The Nexus 7 lacks 3G/4G capabilities + no information about the storage capabilities.. mmmmmm

  • Gemay Leandro Ocampo Pino

    Tegra 3…. $200 … c’mon ppl… it’s a great tablet for that price …. i want one

  • r2yagirl

    Considering this processor and compared to the kindle fire I was considering for my child, this would be the best choice of purchase. The schools in our area have wifi already so there wouldn’t be so much of a concern of 3G/4g for students.

  • http://www.caseyfrennier.com/ Casey Frennier

    wish it had a microsd slot

  • Anthony

    I can haz 10.1 inch tablet?

  • ibm650

    This, like the kindle, is for cloud consumption. I have a need for content on the plane or other places with no wifi. Movies on a plane, music in car or plane. They on purpose did not put in a micro sd slot. Thereby, locking you in big time.

  • ‘Tis Moi

    Without microSD, it’s a pass, sorry (& Apple-ish in it’s lock-down approach)… I already have a 16gb Dell 9″ mini (one of the first round of SSD’s)- and that’s a PITA re: too little OS space (though I at least have a SD slot). I’ll wait for a better reason to drop my $$$’s.

    • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

      You’re living in the past. ;)

      • ‘Tis Moi

        Hey Chris!

        Thanks for the slam- “why” you feel as you do would be my query, and very helpful to the rest of the readers?

        T
        PS- Some of what I reply is tongue-in-cheek to illicit response… ;)

        • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

          Most content lives ‘in the cloud’ these days. As a general consumption device, it’s fine – though there would certainly be scenarios wherein you’d want to manage media on a removable drive (like children’s movies for your kids), adding another component could increase cost – and potentially be another point of failure for any device.

          • ‘Tis Moi

            Yeah, I know the clouds the shizzle and all that…I just like to know that I can carry a bit of stuff along with me for those times I can’t actually reach that cloud, you know?

  • Maya Thomas

    Can I only use Chrome compatible web sites? I have to use sites for work that are only compatible with internet explorer.

  • Gregg

    When will it be avalible to purchase on amazon?