Yesterday's Google Nexus 7 announcement is Google's statement of intent to become a major force in the tablet arena and move the market beyond the current binary choice of Apple or Android.
Cheap and cheerful with few frills, the Asus-developed Nexus 7 will retail at £159 for an 8GB, or £199 for a 16GB version. With its compact 7in display that still manages a 1280x800 screen resolution, it's cheap and portable enough to become ubiquitous.
The quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 ARM-based CPU lying at the heart of the Nexus 7 considerably ups the ante for budget-priced mobile devices, giving the Google tablet the edge over most similarly-priced units.
While Nvidia has already confirmed that the low-end, Windows RT-sporting Microsoft Surface device will also use a Tegra, it's believed to be a faster, more expensive model, so it seems Nexus 7 might be relatively out on its own in this regard.
Meanwhile, a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera and microphone will provide decent video conferencing capabilities in the field. Even though, presumably for cost reasons, it lacks a MicroSD port, and eschews 3G/4G for Wi-Fi only, it's still an impressively featured bundle for the money.
With Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" on-board, the device offers a tight incremental update to Icecream Sandwich, with such neat features as Project Butter potentially smoothing up the Android interface, which has had a tendency to lag, while Google Wallet's built in for NFC requirements, going head-to-head with Windows 8's promised Wallet Hub and iOS 6's PassBook.
But what really gives the Nexus an edge over the Surface and iOS 6 devices is the fact that it's here. Now.
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