Google tablet to take on iPad

NEXUS LEVEL: Google's Hugo Barra unveils the Nexus 7 tablet.
NEXUS LEVEL: Google's Hugo Barra unveils the Nexus 7 tablet.

Google has opened up new fronts in its contest with Apple and Amazon, launching a tablet to challenge the iPad and a social streaming device to stake a foothold in the living room.

The new 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet will go on sale in the United States, Australia and two other countries from today from A$249 (NZ$317), with a promised delivery date of mid-July.

The tablet will come in two versions, an 8GB model and a 16GB model. It sports a quad core processor, an HD display, an eight-hour battery life, a front facing camera and weighs 340 grams.

Although made by Asus, Google had a guiding hand in melding the hardware with Android 4.1 (also known as Jelly Bean), the latest version of its mobile software.

The Nexus 7 will be sold online through Google Play, Google's equivalent of iTunes.

This is the first time a Nexus device has been available to be sold directly to Australian consumers.

The Australian price is A$50 more than US customers will pay, despite the Australian dollar being at or near parity with the US dollar.

The device will come pre-loaded with a sample of movies, music, books and magazines and an A$25 voucher which can be spent in the Google Play store.

While the iPad is a target, the Nexus 7 also takes aim at Amazons US$200 Kindle Fire which was launched last year and closely integrates Amazons offering in a 7 inch tablet that is based around an earlier version of Android.

Google also showed off the Nexus Q, an orb-shaped media player which goes on sale today in the US only for US$300. It will be rolled out to other countries at a later, unspecified date.

The device has many of the same features found in the Apple TV. The big difference is that it enables sharing between friends - as long they are using Android devices.

My friends can now play their music in my living room, said Googles engineering director, Joe Britt, who demoed the device at Google I/O, the companys annual developer conference being held in San Francisco.

The late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once described 7 inch tablets as "dead on arrival". Apple's iPad, by contrast, sports a 9.7 inch screen.

While the Nexus 7 may not be an iPad-killer, a 7-inch tablet at a US$200 price point, is going to pressure on the competition to match or lower their prices.

"$200 is the new $100," said David Smith, a vice-president at research firm Gartner. "It's a psychological price point."

- Sydney Morning Herald