Google's Nexus 7 tablet, the company's Android Jelly Bean-powered device, is heavy on the specs as it guns for Amazon's Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet. It's not only the form factor and screen size Google is challenging its competitors on, but also the price -- starting at $200 -- which means consumers will have quite a choice for a 7-inch Android tablet at this price point.
The Nexus 7 is manufactured by Asus for Google and joins the Nexus line of products from the search company, which theoretically are meant to be a guideline for other Android manufacturers. However, unlike Android phones, for which the Nexus line just showed Google's vision for the platform, tablets with the OS have not been selling very well -- unless they run Android in an unrecognizable form, such as the Kindle Fire, which quickly became the number two tablet on the market behind the iPad.
This changes with the Nexus 7 though. The tablet is not only coming at the same low price point as the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet, but it also tops them on many specs. Let's look at how the specs of the Nexus 7 compare with the Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0), which runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
The Nexus 7 comes with 8GB of storage for the entry model at $200, which is in line with all the other tablets in this comparison. The difference is that the Tab 2.0 and Nook Tablet have expandable storage via microSD, while the Fire and Nexus 7 lack this option -- a potential deal breaker for those who need more than the 16 GB you could get on a higher-end Nexus tablet ($250).
Google's tablet is also the thinnest and lightest among the four, although it packs a 4325 mAh battery, enough juice for 8 hours, Google says, and a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, the fastest in this field. As for RAM, the Nexus 7 comes with 1GB, on par with the Tab 2 and the 16GB version of the Nook Tablet ($250), and double what's on the Kindle Fire.
Then there's the all-important screen, which at 7-inches packs 1280-by-800 pixels resolution -- that's 216 pixel density -- a notch above the other tablets. There's a 1.2MP camera (and microphone) on the front for video calls, but there's no camera on the back -- altogether an improvement over the camera-less Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire. The only tablet with dual cameras in the comparison is the Galaxy Tab 2.
If you can get over the fact that there's no expandable storage on the Nexus 7, there are several other goodies packed in the tablet that the competition lacks. That includes NFC support for Android Beam wireless transfers, Bluetooth and GPS, which the Fire and Nook lack. The Nexus 7 also comes with all Google services and apps (including Google Play), which means you have access to a much wider selection of software than on the Kindle and Nook, which use their own app stores and user interface on top on Android.
So far, the Nexus 7 looks like the Android tablet to beat -- unless Amazon comes up with a refreshed Kindle Fire soon, which would improve on specs and address some of the weaker points of the tablet. But until then, the high-res display and all the extra goodies you get with the Nexus 7 (that includes first access to new Android OS releases) make it a good choice for a budget 7-inch tablet.