Is the Nexus 7 tablet a good deal?

The tablet wars heat up as Google leaps into the hardware business with an impressive machine that costs just $200.

By Jul 6, 2012 12:57PM

Image: young woman reading from Kindle (© Reggie Casagrande/Photographer)Now that the confetti's all swept up, reviews are trickling in for Google's (GOOG) first tablet, the hotly anticipated Nexus 7. At an asking price of $199 for the 8 GB model ($249 for 16 GB), users will get a powerful 7-inch tablet that ships with the newest version of Android, 4.1 Jelly Bean; a fast 1.3GHz quad-core processor; a camera and a polished look and feel that's been missing from all other Android tablets that came before the Kindle Fire. 

Although Google hasn't set a release date, the tablet will reportedly ship in the U.S. in mid-July. Does it offer more bang for your buck than Amazon's (AMZN) best-selling gadget?

Without a doubt: It's the best Android tablet ever, says Brent Rose at Gizmodo. "It's fast, it's smooth, it's portable, and it's inexpensive." Best of all, it doesn't feel like a budget-edition gadget -- "it feels high-end." The Nexus packs some "serious horsepower" into a 7-inch frame that's "small enough to slip in a pocket." Most tablets are still considered luxury items, but with the Nexus 7, spending $200 gets you a "full-fledged, seriously-spec'd, fully capable tablet" that's an "absolute steal." There's no reason to buy a Kindle Fire at all.

Actually, Amazon wins in one key area: On paper, the Nexus 7 beats the Kindle Fire in almost every possible way, says Tim Stevens at Engadget -- except for content. Amazon's selection in terms of Kindle books, movies, and music "almost always trumps that of Google's, both in terms of variety and cost." Of course, if you purchase the Nexus 7 you could download the Kindle app. But you still won't be able to access Amazon Instant video, which is Kindle-only.

You should hold out for the next Kindle Fire: Rumor has it that the next version of the Kindle Fire could be announced this month, and may even debut at approximately the same time as the Nexus 7, says Sean Portnoy at ZDNet. Amazon understands that the gadget needs to be "reinvigorated," and since it understands it won't be able to beat the Nexus without a "radical redo of its hardware," it'll pursue other ways to stand out. The company is reportedly doubling down on its key strength -- content -- and courting developers to build Fire-specific applications instead of generic Android versions. It might be worth waiting to hear what Amazon has to say first before springing for a Nexus 7.

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Jul 6, 2012 10:26PM
Why would you recommend that people "hold out" for the next Kindle Fire? It will still not be running a standard Android O/S and certainly not at or near the quality of Google's new Android 4.1 O/S.

Since many have said that the Nexus 7 is the best tablet out there, what makes you think that Amazon has the technical and engineering skills to match the cooperation between Google and ASUS? The laughable Kindle Fire was overhyped by Amazon's superior marketing skills - nothing more.
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