June 27, 2012 at 12:28 PM ET
Just as Google's developer conference was getting started, details of the company's rumored Nexus 7 tablet emerged. As previously reported, it is a 7-inch tablet powered by a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor that will run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and come in 8GB ($199) and 16GB versions ($249). You can order today, but it ships in mid-July.
The display is true high-def — 1280x800, so a bit better than 720p — and there's a front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera and microphone for video chatting, though there's no rear-facing camera. (That's okay -- do you really take pictures with tablets?) It also has a micro USB port, GPS, near-field communication and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. There's no mention of an SD card slot for expanding the memory, however.
Not surprisingly, it was built by (and even branded) Asus, the manufacturer that had already made the most headway with quad-core gamer-friendly Android tablets. (See our video on the Transformer Prime below.)
Clearly, at a starting price of $199, the Nexus 7 is positioned to compete with the similarly 7-inch Kindle Fire, rather than taking on the 9.7-inch iPad (and the 10.6-inch Surface tablet from Microsoft).
Although they were careful to make the device comfortable to hold, with a textured back and light weight, some people just prefer to have a case anyway. And there is indeed a nice little $20 matte polymer cover in which you can ensconce your Nexus 7 and protect its screen. It's available in gray right now, but Asus sent out a picture showing it in a number of bright yet muted colors:
Meanwhile, Google pitched the Nexus 7 — with its gryoscope and accelerometer — as "a serious gamingdevice." By way of example, they showed off the action-heavygame "Horn" and the zombie shooter "Dead Trigger."
And because, with all of those tablets, content seems to be the biggest incentive, Google is playing up the Play store, even granting early buyers $25 in Google Play credit and "some great free content" including "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Even if you don't think any of the "Transformers" films is truly "great," it is nice to see Google aggressively pushing content, even adding TV shows and magazines to their lineup. Tablet buyers need a reason to buy a tablet.