Google fleshes out its tablet offerings, adds Nexus 10

Even though Hurricane Sandy forced Google to cancel its New York City launch event, Google didn't let the swirling winds of the monster East Coast storm keep it from unwrapping its big holiday news. The Nexus tablet evolutions are especially welcome, and position Google's offerings well vis a vis the ever-shifting tablet landscape. The price moves for Nexus 7 make it more competitive with 7-inch tablets fromAmazon and Barnes & Noble. And the 10-inch model, with the new Android 4.2 operating system, inches closer to posing a strong challenge to Apple's iPad.

Google Nexus 10

Manufactured by Samsung, the highly anticipated Google Nexus 10's very existence explains, in part, why we haven't heard a whole lot of news about a high pixel density tablet from the mobile giant. The Nexus 10's display has 2560 by 1600 pixels, which translates to 300 pixels per inch. That resolution tops Apple's iPad, which comes in at 264 ppi.

The processor is the same 1.7GHz A15 dual-core used in Google's new Chromebooks; the A15 should pack plenty of processing oomph, even though it is "just" a dual-core unit. Most of the tablets available today are using processors based on the Cortex A9 mobile processor. The tablet carries 2GB of system memory, which is more than any other shipping Android tablet has; only the Huawei MediaTab 10 introduced earlier this year had 2GB of memory.

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The Nexus 10 is svelte, measuring 10.38 by 7.0 by 0.35 inches. And it weighs 1.33 pounds, making it not the lightest of Android tablets we've seen, but not the heaviest, either. It's actually the same weight as Apple's iPad 2.

Google says the 9000mAh battery will provide up to 9 hours of video playback and more than 500 hours of standby time.

The new tablet has Bluetooth 3.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, MicroUSB, Micro-HDMI, GPS, and dual-side NFC.

The company describes the Nexus 10 as having front-facing stereo speakers. I suspect that means the physical design of this tablet may be similar to the current Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. The Tab 2 also served as a template for the design of the Samsung ATIV Tab for Windows RT, which was announced worldwide at IFA and shown off at Microsoft's Windows 8 launch event last week in New York City, but still has no U.S. availability or pricing.

The Nexus 10 is Wi-Fi only, and will be available in two capacities. The 16GB costs $399, and the 32GB costs $499. Those prices are super-competitive, and effectively transform the competitive tablet landscape if you're examining options solely on prices (and not app ecosystems). The Apple iPad costs $499 for a 16GB model, and only a handful of Android tablets offer 32GB at a similar price—including the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity ($499 for 32GB) and the Acer Iconia Tab A700. It also effectively renders moot products like Samsung's own Galaxy Tab 2, a lackluster 10.1-inch tablet that at last price check cost $399 for 16GB.

Nexus 7 refresh

The Nexus 7 tablet, first introduced this past summer, gets a refresh in time for the holidays, too. As indicated in the rumor mill—and predicted given the shift in competing 7-inch tablets—Google ditches the Nexus 7's 8GB of storage and goes straight to 16GB for $199, and 32GB for $249. That's right in line with Amazon did with its Kindle Fire HD, and it makes the Nexus 7 even more attractive as compared with the Apple iPad mini's mere 16GB for $329.

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In addition to adjusting the capacity points, Google adds a 32GB HSPA+ model for $299. The boon here is that this is an unlocked GSM tablet, so you can use the tablet on more than 200 GSM providers worldwide. If you travel a lot, or even occasionally, that extra $50 for the HSPA+ makes for a very compelling and flexible value-add over the Wi-Fi only version.

Google says the Nexus 10 tablet, as well as the new Nexus 4 tablets, will be available for sale from the Google Play Store on November 13, the same day as the Nexus 4 phone. The Nexus 7 tablet may surface sooner at retailers, though; over the weekend, reports bubbled up of 32GB Nexus 7 signage sightings at Office Depot stores.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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