Google Jumps Into The Tablet War

Google is finally jumping into the tablet fight with its Nexus 7 to release later this month. Interestingly, this announcement came a mere week after Microsoft revealed the Surface tablet will come out late this year. At least the detailed specs were released on the Nexus 7 (unlike the Surface), not to mention we’ll see it very soon. The tablet wars continue.

At first glance, I’m convinced this will be my Kindle Fire replacement. Even though video content of the Fire and Nexus are about the same, the operating system and the physical display look so much better on this shiny new object! It has a front-facing camera and only weighs 12 ounces. Inside, the Nexus sports an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core 1.2GHz processor, Bluetooth, GPS, an accelerometer, digital compass, a gyroscope and WiFi capability (unfortunately no cellular data).

Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) is Nexus’ operating system and Google Play is the backbone for the Nexus’ content. Nexus 7 is the first device to use Jelly Bean, and one of the software improvements include a keyboard that “learns” as it is used and eventually predicts words before they are typed. It also has a beefed up ability to convert speech to text or into search queries (trying to copy Apple’s Siri?). A new Google Now feature lets you combine search history, calendar and other information to allow your devices to predict needs (i.e., fastest route to your favorite store at a certain time of day).

Similar to Apple’s iTunes Store, 600,000-plus apps, games, music, movies and books will be offered. So far Google has partnerships with Disney, Paramount and Sony, and will offer movies and TV episodes for sale (not just rentals). The service is entirely cloud-based, which means all content is available across your various devices.

It seems Google is making a big attempt to mimic Apple – it also introduced the Android-powered Nexus Q device for wirelessly streaming movies or music from Google Play to televisions or speakers (similar to the Apple TV).

The 8GB Nexus 7 is priced at $199 ($250 for the 16GB) and is now available for pre-orders. Each tablet comes with a $25 certificate for Google Play content.

Convinced? Pre-order here:

* A few corrections to last week’s story on the Prius Plug In:

Toyota Hawaii does not offer Entune; there are no additional apps for your smartphone or Safety Connect System; while it shares the same interior and exterior design elements of the 2012 Prius Liftback, the chrome pieces and the wheels are unique to the Prius Plug-In Hybrid; the electric-only (EV) driving range should be up to 11 miles, not 15, and mpgs should be 95 in electric mode and 50 mpg in hybrid, not 87 and 49.

My apologies.