How does Google's new 7" tablet compare to the iPad, Kindle and Samsung tablets?
Google's first tablet called the Nexus 7 (which is actually made by ASUS) is a worthy device for anyone considering a lower cost tablet. It became such a popular tablet that the larger capacity (16GB) device is was sold out within the first week of its release (orders are being taken again).
At $199 (8GB) & $249 (16GB), they are significantly cheaper than the larger iPads ($500-$900) or Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 ($400) and in my opinion, provides much more bang for the buck than the comparably priced Kindle Fire.
The only similar performing product at the moment is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (8GB $249), which I'll compare in more detail later.
The Nexus 7 has been beautifully crafted with beveled edges as well as a non-slip perforated backing; it's slim and light and feels great in your hands (and very easily used with one hand).
The smaller form factor has some definite advantages over larger tablets as it easily fits in the back pocket of my pants or inside a coat pocket making it much more mobile, meaning you'll likely use it more.
The ‘IPS' (In-Plane Switching) LCD screen is super sharp and was one of the most common things folks remarked about when I handed it to them to play with. The IPS technology also provides for a very wide viewing angle, which is great for those times you want to watch a video with a friend or two.
The Nvidia quad-core processor combined with the latest Android operating system called ‘Jellybean' and the smaller form factor make this a no-brainer for anyone that likes to play games on their tablet. The size and weight also makes it much more suited to game playing than the larger 10" tablets.
At $199, Google had to make some decisions about what to leave out in order to hit the price point, so you won't find a rear-facing camera, a memory expansion slot or any video output ports on the Nexus 7.
If any of those features are important to you, but you want to stick to the smaller 7" format, you will want to give the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 a serious look.
The Galaxy Tab 2 only has a dual-core processor and is loaded with the previous version of the Android OS (Ice Cream Sandwich) but if taking pictures and video with your tablet and having the ability to expand the storage are more important than playing games, the additional performance of the Nexus 7 isn't as important.
From the apps standpoint, the iPad still leads the pack as far as selection goes, however, the Android platform is closing the gap quickly. Unless you have a specific app that will drive your buying decision, you should be fine with either platform.
The apps available for the Kindle Fire pale in comparison to the other two platforms, so unless apps don't matter to you, I'd steer clear of this modified (& limited) Android device from Amazon.
For its first attempt at making a tablet, Google has done an admirable job and many are speculating it's adding to the reasons that Apple is going to finally produce a 7" iPad Mini (some time before the end of the year).
Amazon is also working on the Kindle 2 as a means to keep up with the pack, so if you aren't in a big hurry to get a new tablet, waiting to see what each of these camps come up with is a pretty smart play.
The sweet spot for buying a tablet this year will likely be in November as the new product releases combined with holiday sales will yield some pretty interesting opportunities.