Thursday, June 28, 2012

Google Nexus 7 vs. the Amazon Kindle Fire: Battle of the 7" Tablets

At the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang and ASUSTeK CEO Jerry Shen teased the possibility of a 7" tablet, to be based on the Tegra-3 processor, which could be sold for as little as $249. Asus had previously developed the Eee Pad Transformer Prime, a 10" Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS tablet with docking keyboard, also based on the NVIDIA processor. The Transformer Prime typically retails for ~$500, in the 32GB memory configuration.

Though that tablet never came to market, Google beat Asus' CES target price at their 2012 I/O Developer Conference this week, in the unveiling of the Asus-manufactured Nexus-7. Google also used the announcement to feature an operating system upgrade to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Google is selling the Nexus-7 directly from the Google Play store, for $199 with 8GB of internal memory, and $249 in the 16GB configuration. The company is encouraging pre-orders by including a $25 Google Play store credit.

At CES, Jen-Hsun Huang specified the $199 Amazon Kindle Fire as a target, when he posed his scripted challenge to Asus' Shen, regarding how low of a price could be achieved for a 7" tablet. A feature comparison shows that Asus has done more than just match Amazon's 8GB tablet price. Beside the more powerful processor (compared to the Kindle's TI OMAP 4430 dual-core processor), the Nexus 7 has a significantly higher resolution display, is lighter weight, and includes a front-facing camera. The Asus tablet also includes Bluetooth and NFC connectivity, the latter for Google's Android Beam applications. An array of sensors will support Android games, and the Jellybean operating system means that users have full access to Google Play store apps.

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