Google enters the 7″ tablet market

Bladerunner may have given us the Nexus 6, but Google is delivering on the Nexus 7.

Before you get your hopes up, the Nexus 7 is a 7″ android based tablet.  Supposed to be available in July 2012.

There is a comparison chart over at gdgt that compares it to the other two important players in the 7″ tablet market, the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Color Nook.  There are some gaps in the data on that chart, most of which can be filled with a quick search.

For a more detailed peek under the hood of the Nexus 7, try the PCMag review.  Here are some key features. It will be running Android 4.1, not a feature reduced in house version of Android like the Fire or Nook.  It has a Quad core CPU with a 12 core GPU.  That is a lot more horse power than you get with the Kindle Fire.  The Nexus 7 screen resolution is a bit better, 1280 x 800 opposed to the Fire’s 1024 x 600 and it has double the RAM as well.  The Nexus 7 also has a built in camera in addition to Bluetooth, both features lacking in the Fire & Nook.  What the Nexus 7 doesn’t have is  speakers or a microphone.  It does have a 3.5mm audio jack, which is the only port besides the MicroUSB port.  That’s right, no SD slot.  The Nexus does come in two flavors, one with 8 Gig of storage for $199 and a 16 Gig version for $249.   For comparison, the Kindle Fire also has 8 Gig, and no SD slot.  The Color Nook is the only one that has a SD slot for additional storage.  Given that both Amazon & Google have extensive Cloud storage solutions, I’m not surprised by the lack of the SD slot.

I’ve used the Kindle Fire before, and I liked it.  However, if I had to put down $199 (plus tax) of my money for a 7″ tablet, I would go with the Google Nexus 7.

Update: The MIT Tech Review has their review of the Nexus 7 up.  According to them it does have a speaker.

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Kindle Fire Review

I recently got my hands on a Kindle Fire, Amazon’s 7″ Android tablet. I can see why they are selling like the preverbal hotcakes. For $200 you get an Android tablet that is optimized for the Amazon eco-system.

The screen is sharp, and the text clear. It’s still not an e-ink display, so if all you want to do is read books, you are better off with one of the other Kindle devices. They are cheaper and easier on the eyes for prolonged reading.

The Fire is also WiFi only. No cell carrier based updates and also, no Bluetooth. So no add on keyboards or wireless headsets.  There is a headset jack, and stereo speakers.   You’ll probably want to use headphones or ear buds, but the audio is good enough through the speakers for casual use.

It has just one button, everything else, including volume/mute requires multiple touches to the screen to adjust. The screen is also a fingerprint magnet. Possibly worse than first gen iPads. Bad enough were I started carrying a stylus I had picked up to draw on the iPad with to use *all the time* on the Fire.  The screen is very crisp and the video quality is quite good, so I don’t want to be staring through fingerprints to see that picture quality.

I’ve heard one review consistently that I have to agree with. For content formatted for the 7″ screen, it looks great! Other content, not so much. Streaming video from Amazon in landscape is large and sharp! I’ve loaded some video content and the gallery player only plays it in portrait mode, so I’ve got landscape formatted video playing in the middle third of the portrait mode screen. Definitely sub-optimal. Browsing the web is not as clean as it is with a larger screen (an iPad for example). I found myself constantly having to drag the screen focus in order to read the end of a line.

The Amazon Android App store is ok, but definitely limited.

Bottom line, if you are already invested in the Amazon eco-system, and just want to read books & magazines, and watch videos from Amazon, then is a very well spent $200.

If you want more flexible device in order to see more of the Internet than what Amazon provides, then you are better off with a tablet with a 10″ screen, with either a more open version of Android or Apple iOS.

Lowest cost Android tablet on the market

Currently I would have to say that title belongs to the Nook.  Ya, ya…Barnes & Noble tells you it that it just an ebook reader, but it’s running a crippled version of Android that you can root pretty easily.

It’s pretty straightforward, and you can find just about everything you need at nookDevs. Once you are done, you can load multiple ebook readers, including B&N’s android app!

Downside, no camera and no Bluetooth.

Upside, no monthly service fees!

Disclaimer: In case this wasn’t obviously clear, rooting your Nook is not warranty friendly.

“iPad Killer” rumors are all the rage

I do like the look of this HP tablet. For the rumored $600 price tag, it supports an impressive feature list.

  • 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor
  • an 8.9-inch, multi-touch display
  • 32 or 64 GB of Flash storage
  • 1 GB of DDR RAM
  • Windows Home 7 Premium
  • a VGA Webcam
  • an Intel UMA graphics chip that supports 1080p, high-definition video playback

Oh, and it supports Flash, has at least one USB port and a SD slot.

Yet another iPad post

Ya, ya…my last few posts have been about the iPad. It’s nifty and shiny, so of course it attracts my attention. I was discussing tech stuff with a buddy and made the following comment.

The Apple iPad really isn’t a new product trying to break into the market, it’s an expansion on an existing product line with a rabidly fanatical user base.

It’s not the magic device that many had hoped for, but it’s magic in a business sense that is pure Steve Jobs. It’s certainly good enough.

I used to carry a better phone than my iPhone, and a better PDA, and an MP3 player with more storage, and better camera. My iPhone does all those functions, not as well, but good enough, that I only carry one device all the time, instead of four.

Ya, the Kindle is probably a better e-text reader due it’s E-ink screen, but is it good enough to spend an additional $260 for when your $500 tablet, that does a bunch of other stuff as well, is a good enough e-text reader?

As for that “bunch of other stuff,” just look at the itunes store. Not just the apps, but the movies and TV shows. The iPad is handier than my notebook, has a better screen than my netbook, and with the rumored Hulu app, I’ll be able to stream Red Eye and watch TV shows as well as video bought or rented through iTunes. That isn’t even counting the apps being written now to take advantage of the new features of the bloody thing.

My prediction is that it’s going to sell and sell well. It’s popularity will drive sales for other tablet platforms, such as the Adam. The beauty of is that is a typical Apple product in that there is nothing really ground breaking about it. It’s a collection of well known and existing technology put together into a really well designed package.