July 6, 2012 1:45 PM
Up-front admission: I have not yet had a chance to see and work with Google’s new Nexus 7 tablet, manufactured by Asus. That means, for now, I have to rely on American reviews. But those reviews are unequivocally positive.
Computerworld's JR Raphael says “When you look at this tablet compared to other devices in the same price range — Amazon's Kindle Fire, Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 — everything else basically looks like crap,” and “up till now, $200 tablets pretty much sucked. Google just changed that.” Over at the York Times, David Pogue calls the Nexus “a ground-shaking arrival” that “pretty much blows the Kindle Fire’s value proposition into a cloud of ash."
Every other review draws basically the same conclusion: Google just created the best 7-inch Android tablet, maybe even the best Android tablet of any size. And it did so at a remarkable $209 for the 8GB version and $259 for the 16GB model. (That’s Canadian pricing.)
And hardware companies are taking notice. A quick stroll through the other 7-inch options show that a starting price around $200 is becoming common. Lenovo’s 16GB IdeaPad A1, for example, is regularly $399, but a current sale and an “eCoupon” drops the 7-incher down to $199. That’s a good price, but the A1 runs an outmoded processor. Samsung is almost there as well on price, selling its 7-inch 8GB Galaxy Tab 2 for $249. (US product page). That extra $40 buys you a better camera and a nifty remote-control feature, but with only a dual-core processor compared to the Nexus’ quad-core, that hardly seems like money well spent. Oh, and the Tab 2.0 runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich; the Nexus uses 4.1 Jelly Bean, the newest version.
The two price holdouts right now appear to be Acer, which sells its 8GB 7-inch tablet for $280 — and Toshiba. And the latter is a real jaw-dropper. Toshiba’s new Excite 7.7 tablet, available end of June, does have a quad-core processor and a memory expansion slot — which the Nexus lacks — but the 16GB version is priced at a crazy $499. I am sure it’s a great product, but I don’t understand why anyone would choose to pay $499 for an Excite instead of $259 for the 16GB Nexus.
Expect to see Toshiba drop its price. It will have to.
And that’s the point of the Nexus. It’s not perfect — it should have an expansion slot and a rear camera — but it’s close, and at its price point it is a market-changing device. The Nexus 7 will dominate the sub-$300 7-inch market in exactly the same way the iPad holds the $500-plus 10-inch market. The only product that may touch the Nexus is Apple’s rumoured iPad Mini, but only if it actually exists and then only if it’s less than $300. Until that happens, forget any 7-inch tablet that doesn’t say “Nexus” on it. There is simply no reason to buy anything else.
Postscript: Google’s other recent hardware announcement was the Nexus Q, a media streaming device that competes with Apple TV and the Roku. (My review of the Roku is here.) Again, I haven’t used one yet, so I have to look to American reviewers like David Pogue — who hates the Nexus Q.
Peter Wolchak has been a professional print journalist for more than a decade. Starting as a news photographer at a community newspaper, Peter then worked as a staff writer at ComputerWorld Canada, a national trade magazine, and later served as the editor of that publication for four years. Peter then moved up to the national business magazine arena as the editor of Backbone. In addition to these journalism activities, Peter has also worked as a public speaker and discussion moderator, served as a judge for the McLuhan Festival’s Vortex awards, and sits on the E-Business Program Advisory Committee at Sheridan College.
Posted by Sue Ansell at July 6, 2012 1:45 PM
Categories: Gadgets Trends