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Google Nexus: The Tablet War Is Heating Up

It all started with HP's fire sale on their Touchpad tablets for $99 -- and the world took notice when the public would buy ANY tablet that was in their price range, regardless of the fact that it was being discontinued...

With Google's announcement of their new 7" Android tablet, the mobile/tablet market is getting hotter.  Lets take a look at why THIS technogeek thinks that Google's new tablet will usher in a whole new flood of quality devices to the market.
I have not kept quiet in the past about what I want in a tablet computer.  I've gone as far as building a hackintosh tablet out of a Lenovo Thinkpad with a stylus touchscreen to get closer to what I really want. 

Lets look at my tall order, starting with the "must-have's":
  • Fast web surfing
  • A decent resolution screen: at least 1024x768
  • Flash support
  • A choice of where to buy apps and e-books
  • Not too heavy or bulky
  • Reasonable cost
  • Ability to do web conferencing (microphone)
  • Wireless (3g or LTE) and the ability to create a wifi hotspot
and now the "nice-to-have's" are:
  • Ability to play videos for (ahem...) the kids....
  • Decent game playability for... the kids of course :)
  • NFC
  • External storage (usb or SD/micro SD cards)
  • HDMI video output
So far iPad has dominated in *most* of these areas.  The New iPad (iPad 3) delivered on being pretty darn fast, having an over-the-top 2048x1536 screen resolution and the ability to do reliable web conferencing with skype and facetime.  Gaming is good, especially with the high resolution screen, and the selection on iOS is second to none, but still there is room for performance improvement.  I had to jailbreak the iPad in order to get the ability to do a wifi hotspot, but now that it is done, it works very well.

Where iPad is terrible is cost and expandability.  iPad can be up to 2x the price of other tablets on the market.  The hardware is great -- but you pay an extra large amount of cash for it.  Your reward is the prestige of having an apple device in hand.

Amazon learned well from HP's firesale on its now defunct Touchpad tablets, and brought to market its own Kindle Fire tablet in a very competitive price range.  It propelled Amazon into a strong position in the tablet market, as once again, the public answered that they WILL BUY tablets as long as they are in the right price range.  Kindle Fire is weak, however, in expandability and performance -- and Amazon made a big mistake by forgetting to put in a microphone preventing their device from being used for teleconferencing or audio recording.  The Kindle Fire had the same 1024x600 screen resolution as other 7" android tablets on the market, which I always felt was just a tad too small.

So now on to Google's Nexus tablet.  What are they doing right?  They delivered a high(er) resolution screen at 1280x800 which is good -- not intending to compete with iPad's retina display, but attempting to make the display sharper.  They put in a quad-core processor with nVidia graphics which is GREAT!  That means very good performance for gaming, videos, and (hopefully) a snappy and smooth user interface.  It does have a nice front-facing camera and a microphone, so Skype/video conferencing is a reality.  Nexus has NFC, but no HDMI and no 3G/LTE wireless.

Google Nexus still does not add expandable storage, one of the same pitfalls that Kindle Fire drew criticism for, but overall it does improve on a large number of requirements, especially for keeping the same $199 entry price as Kindle Fire.  It still doesn't fit all my requirements, but then again, I already knew that my requirements were unrealistic. 

Is Google's Nexus an iPad killer?  No.  Why? Android just isn't as slick as iOS yet.  It will probably take more market share from Amazon than it does from Apple.  Google Nexus certainly has raised the Android bar higher.

Since Amazon, BN and Google have all released good tablets at the $199 range, my prediction is that this will force everybody else to update their strategies -- hopefully even Apple, who is rumored to be considering a 7" iPad.

I believe we will see a flood of new devices in the next year that attempt to creep into this same price range.  That in turn will force the big players (Amazon, BN, Google, Apple) to deliver more quality at lower prices -- an all around win for consumers!  Ultimately the big players will continue to dominate, but we, the consumers, will receive the benefits.

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