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Nexus 7 heats up tablet war

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The Nexus 7 Android tablet, announced by Google this week, offers pricing that will see it take market share from the iPad. But that doesn’t make it a better device, writes SEAN BACHER.

At this week’s Google I/O Developer Conference in San Francisco, Google announced its direct entry into the tablet war, the Nexus 7.

The announcement came barely a week after Microsoft announced its first ever tablet, the Microsoft Surface. Two newcomers in the tablet war from two of the biggest giants in technology are sure to heat up the market, regardless of how good or bad the devices turn out to be.

Unlike Microsoft, which revealed very few details about its Surface, Goggle gave delegates an in-depth overview of what can be expect from the Nexus, including release dates and prices.

The Nexus 7 is built by Asus and runs the latest version of Android ‚ Android 4.1 or Jelly Bean. Android 4.1 offers a more intuitive keyboard, a gesture mode and a voice search option.

It uses an NVIDIA Tegra quad core processor running at 1.3GHz and is available with either 8GB or 16GB storage. Both pack 1GB of RAM and include a dedicated GPU, which combined with the accelerometer and gyrometer should offer a good gaming experience.

The 7‚ high-definition capacitive touch display offers a maximum resolution of 1280×800 pixels and is made from Corning Gorilla glass to protect it from light scratching. It is lit up by IPS (in plane switching) technology. This means the user doesn’t have to be staring directly at the screen to watch videos and can instead get a decent view by looking at the screen from an angle.

Google has not included a rear camera, but the front one is at a resolution of 1.2Megapixels, making it good enough for video-conferencing apps.

The Nexus 7 will connect via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth ‚ there is no mention of 3G or 4G at this stage. It is also equipped with Google Beam ‚ the company’s version of NFC.

The Nexus 7 is the first tablet to ship with Google Chrome as the default Internet browser and a range of widgets and apps have been included – ready to be removed and customised as the users sees fit.

The Nexus 7 is powered by a 4 325mAh Lithium Ion battery which, according to Google, will allow for nine hours of high-definition video viewing.

The 340 gram 7‚ tablet will start at $199 for the 8GB version, with the 16GB selling for $249. Goggle has positioned it as a competitor to the iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire and NOOK tablets and, at those prices, is likely to shake up the market. However, the lack of a rear camera and 3G or 4G connectivity will work against it.

The Nexus 7 will be released in the US, UK and Canada in mid-July, and subsequently shipped to other countries. South African availability has not been announced.

* Follow Sean on Twitter on @seanbacher

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