After months of speculation and delay, Google is all set to launch its first ever Google branded Nexus tablet at the Google I/O conference in June. This has been a long time coming and seeing the rapid adoption of Android tablets, Google wants to be part of the party just like they do with their Nexus branded phones. However, rather than just dishing out another high-end and high priced tablet, Google plans on setting on setting a new benchmark to what a mainstream tablet should be. The iPad is already in a league of its own when you look at the amount of units sold so going after that market is really a moot point since we’ve seen company’s try that a countless times already and fail, miserably. With the Nexus tablet, Google is going after the mainstream crowd, particularly the sub-$200 price bracket. Currently, we have the Amazon Kindle Fire that’s wildly popular in this segment and Google plans to capture this market. So here’s what we know so far about the Google Nexus Tablet.
Built by Asus
One would typically expect Samsung or even Motorola to be the hardware partner for Google’s official tablet but as it turns out, Asus will be the one manufacturing the Nexus tablet. Google also plans to sell the tablets themselves directly to the end user through an online store. Now, there aren’t any leaked pictures of the tablet yet but we don’t have to wait for that since we have a sneaking suspicion that it will be based on the Asus Eee Pad MeMO ME370T. Asus announced this tablet at CES along with a whole bunch of other tablets as well but what makes this stand out is that it’s a 7-inch tablet priced under $300. Now this was back in January and enough time has passed since then for Google and Asus to figure out a way to reduce costs so while the tablet may not actually launch at a sub-$200 price at first, it’s said to be around $250 (approx. Rs.14,000), which is still very good.
Could be based on the MeMO tablet
Going by the Asus MeMO, the Nexus tablet should feature a 1280 x 800 resolution, scratch-resistant screen, feature all your usual connectivity options like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB and maybe HDMI. It’s still not certain if Google will keep the rear camera or ditch it in order to save costs since most of the tablet cameras are either not great or never really used much. We’re really glad they are going with the 7-inch form factor rather than a 10.1-inch display since 7-inches is a lot more manageable in your hand and easy to use.
Powered by Nvidia
Asus and Nvidia have a really strong partnership right now as the company used the Transformer Prime to showcase the capabilities of their Tegra 3 SoC and also launch the platform in the market. It’s now confirmed that the Nexus tablet will be powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 3, which is really big news since it will be the first time a quad-core SoC based tablet will be available at this price point. Asus is really gunning hard for a top spot in the tablet race according to the Xu Youjia, who told the China Times that his company would not settle for anything less than the second best (keeping Apple in mind obviously) and hopes to take the lead in the tablet segment.
By using Nvidia’s SoC, the Nexus tablet will automatically get an upper hand when it comes to gaming and other multimedia aspects, where the Tegra 3 really excels.
Runs Android 5.0 Jelly Bean
This is another big piece of the puzzle, the next version of Android a.k.a Android 5.0 or Jelly Bean. Till now, there is absolutely no tangible evidence or even talk of what Jelly Bean will look like or what features it will offer. There has been a lot of talk about Google announcing their next version of the OS in the June-July time frame and what better venue to announce it than Google I/O. Also, a statement from Asus’ Corporate Vice President, Benson Lin back in March further cements the fact that Google will indeed announce or launch Android 5.0 in next month. He said, “Asus is very close to Google, so once they have Android 5.0 I think there will be a high possibility that we will be the first wave to offer the Jelly Bean update." It’s true that Asus has been very prompt in rolling out ICS updates for their products, at least in the tablet space so it’s no surprise that they would also be among the first to roll out a Jelly Bean update. We could hope to see Chrome as the default browser in next version but other than that, your guess is as good as any.
Will we see Jelly Bean on the Google Nexus tab?
Speaking of Jelly Bean, we really doubt it’s going to be a ‘massive’ update the way ICS turned out. We feel it’s more a minor incremental update that will just iron out some of the kinks found in in ICS. We may or may not see such a big jump in the version number also so Jelly Bean could very well be Android 4.0.5 and 5.0 could be Key Lime Pie. Yes, with Jelly Bean still officially unannounced, we also have the next version after that to look forward to. The elephant in the room that needs to be addressed is which devices will be eligible for the update? We feel with dual-core soon becoming a defacto standard for even mainstream phones and tablets, this would be a cut-off point. It’s funny to even think about a Jelly Bean update when ICS still accounts for just 3-4% of the total Android handsets in the market.
This is what it could look like
I personally cannot wait for Google to launch this tablet as it will finally put an end to all the horrid ‘cheap’ Android tablets in the market. The Nexus tablet will no doubt be a big seller since it ticks all the boxes in your checklist and even adds some more that you would typically not expect. It’s cheap, powerful and most importantly, it’s a pure Google device which means you’ll be able to immediately experience any and every advancement in Android first, without having to wait an eternity. As far as Jelly Bean is concerned, I’m not overly excited because, let’s face it, there’s nothing much to be excited about at this point. My only wish is that OEM’s pick up the pace on rolling out updates (you hear that LG?) for existing devices in the market rather than just churning out new handsets every few months. Google I/O starts on June 27th, 2012 so we have exactly a month of waiting before everything’s revealed.