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In the midst of a handful of device and software announcements, Google took the stage yesterday morning (afternoon for us east coasters) and announced the very first (official) Nexus tablet, the Nexus 7. Much like rumors have alluded for months now, the tablet hits the magic $199 price point and is manufactured by ASUS. Best of all, for a budget tablet, it comes packed with some serious specifications like, for instance, the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor with 12 hungry cores for graphics found on the inside.

Before the keynote was even over, the Nexus 7 tablet was available for pre-order via Play Store. For $199.99 plus applicable taxes and shipping, you can call a Nexus 7 your very own. On top of that, it comes with a free digital copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and a $25 Play Store credit (while they last).

Immediately after the announcement, however, several colleagues and a few friends of mine started comparing the tablet to its various, existing counterparts. One, for example, compared it to Apple's ever-popular iPad. (It's inevitable, this will happen a million more times over the next few months, regardless of the fact that the two tablets have next to nothing in common. And a handful of sites compared the Nexus 7 to Amazon's Kindle Fire which, for all intents and purposes, is the Nexus 7's closest competitor. Both tablets target the budget buyer and have a uniquely low price point.

To be fair, though, there are quite a few aspects of the 7 that make it much more desirable. The display, for one, is the same size but is notceably more dense. The Kindle Fire has a 7-inch IPS TFT with a resolution of 1024 by 600 pixels. The Nexus has a 7-inch 1280 by 800 back-lit IPS display. The Fire has no cameras, no additional connectivity (beyond Wi-Fi) out of the box and comes in only 8GB. The Nexus has Bluetooth, a 3.5mm headphone jack, GPS, microphone, NFC and comes with the option of 8GB or 16GB (for $50 more bucks, of course). Also, the Nexus 7 is much more svelte than the Fire – it actually looks like there was some effort that went into its design.

And the Kindle Fire comes with a completely redesigned Android interface and ties you strictly to the Amazon Appstore, which is questionable on its own … for anyone who wants to do more than just read books or watch movies. With the Nexus 7, you can access both the Amazon Appstore and Google Play Store, all while enjoying the latest fruits of Google's labors. In this case, you get Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) out of the box. (To be completely fair, all of this can be done on the Kindle Fire with a little hackery.)

With all of that said, I'm not here to compare the Fire with the Nexus 7 on every minor detail. That will be done a million times over before the Nexus 7 ever launches, and then some more once pre-order units start arriving (or when I/O attendees return home with their developer preview units). And, truth be told, both are great buys for the price. You really can't go wrong considering you could buy both a Kindle Fire, a Nexus 7 and $100's worth of content for the same price as a single third-generation iPad.

But I am a bit underwhelmed by Google's childish effort at jabbing Amazon in the back for forking Android and creating their own viable ecosystem with it. As Michael Fisher of Pocketnow explains, the Nexus 7 is a "reactive product". In no way is it new, inventive, bold or awe-inspiring. The hardware and specs are nothing overly amazing – of course, you wouldn't expect that of a $200 tablet. It's simply a one-up on Amazon's brilliant idea on almost every level, a way for Google to say, "Anything you can do, I can do better … with my partners' help."

No less, I wonder how many of you, our faithful readers, pre-ordered a Nexus 7.

I dabbled on it a bit yesterday. I opened the Play Store in Chrome during the keynote, closed the tab, opened another, etc. I did this about six or seven times over the course of an hour before I finally decided to pull the trigger.

To be completely honest, I'm not all that excited about the hardware. I explained just a few days ago that I'm not very fond of 7-inch tablets. I think they're an awkward size and too "in between" to feel comfortable. But I pre-ordered one anyway, mainly so I can get my hands on some of Jelly Bean's features ASAP. I want to see just how much more smooth Android 4.1 is (compared to Android 4.0 on the Transformer Prime) and I want to dive into Google Now, head first. And, well, I love tablets and I've bought every Nexus to date, so why stop now? (I'm not sure if I'll buy the Nexus Q first-hand, but I want to get my paws on one of those, too.)

Tell me. Did any of you pre-order the Nexus 7? Are you excited about it? Did you buy one as a gift? What are your thoughts on the Nexus 7, Jelly Bean and Google's growing ecosystem?


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