We had a pretty good idea that this little guy was going to be making an appearance at Google I/O this morning and, sure enough, it's here. Not only is it here, it's in our hands. Meet the Google Nexus 7, an ASUS-designed device with minimal branding and a clean version of the latest flavor of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Join us after the break for a rundown of what this $199 Fire-fighter feels like to use.
First, the specs. It's a 7-inch device, with a 1280 x 800 IPS LCD that clocks in at 400 nits of brightness. That's powered by a NVIDIA Tegra 3 T30L quad-core processor running at 1.2GHz. Wireless connectivity is 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth as well, but there's no WWAN connectivity here, so you'll want to stay close to a hotspot. Finally, there's 1GB of RAM and either 8 or 16GB of storage.
Those are all middling specs but it's the price that makes this intriguing: $199 for the 8GB model, 16GB for $249. That's a very fair price, especially compared to the Kindle Fire which is, of course, running the same price on much more dated hardware. At least, until Amazon cuts the price or releases a successor, which we're expecting it to do in very short order.
The tablet feels good in the hand. It's a bit on the chunky side -- 10.45mm thick -- just fractionally thinner than the Fire but, at 340g in weight, noticeably lighter than the 400+ gram tablet from Amazon. The biggest difference between the two, however, is the screen quality.
That IPS panel looks great from all angles, showing good brightness and good contrast even in a brightly lit room. We'll need some more time to see how that compares to other competing 7-inchers, but it's certainly a screen that is aiming higher than its price point.
Performance too is aiming high, not besting the latest of superphones like the Galaxy S III or the HTC One X when doing things like launching apps or panning around websites, but still very quick and very responsive to most tasks -- much more so than the Fire in most cases.
Google is promising nine eight hours of battery life here and of course we'll be testing that out as soon as we can, but based on our brief first impressions we're left impressed for the cost. Is it a new top-tier tablet? No, but for under $200 it's a great product. We'll be back with our full review soon, so stay tuned.
Update: The battery life was quoted as nine hours in the keynote but the official specs list eight. We'll see what the real story is when we run our rundown test.