Monday, June 25, 2012

Nexus 7 tablet details leak; exceeds Kindle Fire specs while matching its price

Google I/O is set to start on Wednesday, and with it is expected to be the unveiling of the Nexus 7, Google's own branded Android (Jelly Bean) device. The leaks are now starting to come fast and furious, with an image and details about the tablet hitting the Web.

The leak comes via a purported training document, and seems to confirm many details already rumored previously. The Nexus 7 will be a 7-inch, Nexus-branded (meaning stock Android) tablet built by Asus, with a 1.3Ghz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, GeForce 12-core GPU and 1GB of RAM along with either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage.

As expected, the Nexus 7 will run Android 4.1(Jelly Bean), NFC, and Google Wallet (although probably only in the U.S.).

The screen will be an IPS display with a 1280 x 800 (no retina display here) resolution. It will also carry a 1.2MP front-facing camera. It appears there is no rear-facing camera, although it's possible the leaked information simply omitted that feature.

It's clear from the price, though, $199 for 8GB and $249 for 16GB that the primary target for this device is the Kindle Fire. That device has no cameras at all. It's not as though the rear-facing camera of tablets is used a lot, but it is a feature that some leverage.

On the other hand, if you are only putting one camera on the device, a front-facing camera might be the best choice for a tablet, as it allows video calling.

The training document didn't go into huge detail on Jelly Bean, but the slides said that "Google will handle operating system updates." It's unclear if this is only for stock android devices like the Nexus, but we'd assume it will be, because we doubt that OEMs would be willing to share their Touchwiz, Sense, or Blur code with Google. We expect that information supplied at Google I/O will clarify this issue.

As we said, this is less about competing with the iPad than it is about the Kindle Fire. The prices are the same for comparable 8GB tablets, and the Nexus 7, assuming these specs are correct, easily tops the specs of the Kindle Fire.

In addition, the Kindle Fire ships with a forked version of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), not even a tablet-optimized version of Google's device platform. The Nexus 7 ships with the latest and greatest from Google.

The report could, of course, be just a detailed hoax. The proof, or non-proof, will be available when Google I/O begins.

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