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06 Apr 12 Google Rethinks Price, Specs On Android Tablet

10 Things Tablets Still Can't Do
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Google has decided to make changes to its co-branded Android tablet. Citing a source familiar with Google’s plans, The Verge today reports that the current design of the tablet had been nearly final, but Google now wants to lower the price point further, which will lead to design, component, and specification alterations.

The Verge‘s source said that the original target price of Google’s first co-branded tablet was $249–half the cost of the entry-level Apple iPad and competitive with products such as the Amazon Kindle Fire. The tablet, which is being built by Asustek, will reportedly have a seven-inch display, Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and Wi-Fi (only) for internet connectivity.

Now Google wants to drop the price from $249 to $199 or less.

This gels with what The Wall Street Journal reported last week: Google wants to win tablet market share from Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle, and to do that it will sell devices that are co-branded with its hardware manufacturer partners. Rather than sell just one Google-branded tablet from a single OEM, the search giant will offer several devices from a variety of manufacturers.

[ The pace of mobile innovation has never been greater, according to Google's Larry Page. Read more at Google's Page: 'Android Is On Fire'. ]

The Journal listed Motorola (which Google is in the process of acquiring), Samsung, and Asus as possible hardware partners, noting that the companies would be responsible for designing the tablet. Asus, according to the Journal and The Verge, is on deck to offer the first tablet and will likely have an exclusive spot as the lone device available for a short time.

In addition to offering the tablet at a low price point, it is possible that Google will launch an online store to sell the tablet directly to consumers rather than through wireless network operators. Wireless network operators have not had much success selling subsidized tablets to consumers, mainly due to the financial burden necessitated by the required two-year contracts.

Looking at the specs and features listed by The Verge, Google could get things right with this phantom Android tablet. The smaller display size has several advantages. It would require less power, allow the device to be smaller and more portable, and work well with scaled-up Android smartphone applications. The key component, however, is the Tegra 3 quad-core processor. I’ve used the HTC One X with the Tegra 3 for several weeks now and can attest to this chip’s computing prowess. It delivers incredible performance and manages to sip power at the same time.

Sticking to Wi-Fi as the sole means of connecting to the Internet is also essential to keeping the cost low. This approach should be just fine for most users, as very few people use wireless broadband networks to browse on their tablets. The vast majority of tablet users browse via Wi-Fi.

As long as the display of this unnamed, unannounced device isn’t garbage and battery life is decent, it could be just what Google needs to gain traction in the tablet market.

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