The Nexus is more expensive than its $199 predecessor, but sets several important cost thresholds, including a screen that blows away those of comparably priced alternatives. Nothing is certain until reviews come in, but for now, the Nexus 7 looks like the low-cost tablet to beat.
Android and iOS have dominated the tablet space so far, but Intel and Microsoft hope to jumpstart Windows device sales with a fleet of 8-inch Win8 tablets. Microsoft also hopes to resuscitate its flat-lining Surface RT line with recent price cuts.
Future 8-inch Windows 8 tablets will run on modern processors, and should boast slimmer form factors, longer battery life and snappier performance than the category's only current representative, the Acer Iconia W3.
The forthcoming Win8 devices could shake things up, as could Apple's inevitable iPad Mini refresh. But Microsoft and its partners face the tougher path. Apple has a built-in user base, but Windows 8 is still searching for momentum. With one more compelling option in the mix, the Modern UI could have that much more trouble attracting users.
Does the Nexus 7 trump what other tablets have to offer? Here are eight considerations.
1. Nexus 7 Makes Windows 8 Devices Look Even More Expensive
The base Nexus 7 offers 16 GB of storage and Wi-Fi connectivity for $229. The 32-GB model is only $40 more, and a 32-GB option that includes 4G LTE support is $349. This compares quite well against Apple's iPad Mini. Apple's 16-GB model is $329, but adding cellular support boosts the price by $130. Storage increases are also more costly.
The Windows 8 tablets, however, aren't budget-friendly either. The 32-GB Surface RT is $349, and the 32-GB Acer Iconia W3 is $379. Relative to iPads and Android tablets, Windows slates are arguably more reliant on keyboards, which add accessory costs. Neither the Iconia nor the Surface RT offer LTE support.
The Nexus 7 boasts a 1920 x 1200 pixel display. This density is greater than that of Apple's Retina-equipped iPad, let alone what other mini-tablets offer. The iPad Mini's 7.9-inch display offers only 1024 x 768 pixel resolution. The Acer Iconia's 8.1-inch screen is 1200 x 800 pixels, but plagued by poor contrast and color. The Surface RT also has a lackluster screen. At 10.1 inches, it's bigger than other budget tablets, but it only offers 1366 x 768 pixel resolution.
3. For Most Users, The iPad Mini Arguably Offers The Best UI
The divisive response to Windows 8's Modern UI is well established. It's less intuitive than the alternatives, but enjoyable once mastered. Still, users are trading the polish of iOS and the diversity of Android for the ability to run Microsoft Office. So far, that value proposition hasn't worked well for Microsoft.
The Surface RT can't run any other legacy apps, but the Acer can. However, given the size of the Iconia's screen, it's hard to know how many users will care.