The new Nexus 7 is here. Google's "next big thing" is a 7-inch tablet with a 1920x1200 display (up from 1280x800), more memory, a faster processor and an additional camera. It sells for $229 (for the 16 GB Wi-Fi version), $100 less than Apple's 7-inch iPad mini, and goes on sale July 30 online and via retailers like PC Connection and Best Buy, which are taking pre-orders.
One version of the Asus-manufactured device, a 32-GB model, will be compatible with 4G LTE high-speed data. Other features on the devices include a 1.5-Ghz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2 GB of RAM (double the original Nexus 7), dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, near-field communication for exchanging data and making payments, and HDMI output. A rear-facing 5 megapixel camera joins the pre-existing 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera.
The tablet, code-named Razor, is also slightly lighter than the first Nexus 7, 11.2 ounces, down from 11.99 ounces.
Tell Us Something We Don't Know
The specs released at a breakfast event in San Francisco with Sundar Pichai, head of Google's Android and Chrome units, came as less of a surprise since the details were leaked to a blog, Android Police, which published them in advance.
Google also took the wraps off the next version of Android, 4.3, a minor update that still falls under the code name Jelly Bean. Added features include multi-user restricted profiles for kids, and improved Bluetooth and camera-interface features.
In something of a surprise announcement, Google unveiled Chromecast, a cheap ($35) device that plugs into a high-definition TV and allows streaming of games or media content from phones, laptops or tablets.
"It works with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies and TV, and Google Play Music, with more apps like Pandora coming soon," Google announced on its official blog Wednesday. "With Chromecast, we wanted to create an easy solution that works for everyone, for every TV in the house."
It comes one day after Verizon Wireless and Google's Motorola Mobility released a new interface for its latest line of Droid phones that also allows streaming to connected TVs.
It's the latest in a push by all major technology companies, including Apple, Intel, Amazon and others, to bring Internet content to the largest screens.
Focus on Media Content
The new Nexus 7 comes at a time when Apple iPad sales are down, with 14.6 million in the last quarter, down from 17 million year-over-year. That creates a possible opening for competitors while Apple figures out new form factors for the pioneering device that created the tablet market.
"In the history of all the Android-based tablets, they haven't outsold the iPad," said wireless industry analyst Gerry Purdy of MobileTrax. But that could change.
He noted that the primary use case for an iPad remains consumption of media content rather than productivity.
"That makes it somewhat less important as to whether it's an iPad or not. It's still an enjoyable experience to show up at a meeting with an iPad because that's what the executives are using," he told us.
But with the consumer focus shifting more from hardware specs to the availability of "attractive offerings" in media content as part of the user experience, Purdy said, "that's where some of these newer devices are going to become more interesting."