Nexus 10: Google declares tablet war on iPad

The search giant has finally built a 10-inch Android device of its very own to compete directly with Apple's flagship tablet.
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer

On Monday morning in New York City, Google was expected to host a major Android-related event. Because Hurricane Sandy was barrelling up the coast threatening the eastern seaboard, that event was cancelled.

Instead of postponing the event, Google simply announced a series of new Android products on its web site. Google released the next iteration of its Android operating system, version 4.2, along with an updated version of their Nexus 7 with more memory and mobile data options.

But the crown jewels in the subtle 'non-event' announcement was the release of a new budget-conscious handset made by LG Electronics known as the Nexus 4, and also a full size tablet known as the Nexus 10.

While there have been a number of 10-inch Android tablets released into the market over the last two years by its OEM partners -- not limited to Motorola, Asus, Acer, Sony, and Samsung -- Google had yet to go to market with a full-sized tablet of its own branding that would directly compete with Apple's iPad.

The Nexus 10 is significant in that it is a full "Google Experience" device, in that all aspects of the operating system and software that is loaded onto the tablet is under Google's control, which means it should get software updates much faster than OEM 10-inch Android tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Asus Transformer.

It is also the first Android tablet which truly represents a direct challenge to Apple's iPad, which has sold 100 million units as of early October, according to the Cupertino, CA.-based technology giant. 

The tablet has been released in partnership with Samsung Electronics, who has manufactured the device, and as such is meant to set the benchmark for which all future Android tablets will be judged. 

In addition to the "Nexus" moniker which sets the tablet apart from its rivals, the Nexus 10 is of 100 percent Samsung design, in that it uses virtually all components from the Korean electronics giant, including their own System on a Chip (Soc), memory, flash storage, batteries and display, achieving a level of vertical integration previously unheard of on Android tablet. 

The display, a 2560x1600 resolution, 10-inch LCD, actually surpasses Apple's own Retina display in resolution with 300 pixels-per-inch (ppi), which is still a very impressive 2048x1536 at 264 ppi, both exceeding the 1080p display standard (1920x1080) on high-definition television sets.

It remains to be seen whether or not the Samsung-manufactured display unit on the Nexus 10 matches the luminosity or readability of the iPad, and whether the average end-user can actually tell the difference in terms of sharpness.

The Nexus 10 (16GB) will cost $399, a full $100 less than Apple's 9.7" 16GB high-end iPad with Retina display -- dubbed the iPad 4, and the same price as their best-selling iPad 2.

It's smack-bam in the middle of Apple's pricing model. While this undercuts Apple by a significant margin, it was probably within Google's and Samsung's capabilities to further reduce the price of the device at launch (perhaps to $329 or $350) as well as provide the buyer with perks that would have given signficant value-add and made the product an even more compelling buy.

For example, the Nexus 10 could have been launched with two years of free 100GB of Google Drive storage and 10 Gogoinflight passes, as the recently released ARM-based Samsung Chromebook was just over a week ago.

While the hardware is definitely a shot across Apple's bow, Google still needs to overcome a number of issues that have plagued Android tablets in general in order to pose a serious threat to the tablet market leader, which include a lack of tablet-optimized applications, user-friendliness and overall device performance. 

On Monday, Google said it has matched Apple in the number of apps in its rival Google Play application store for Android devices, according to Bloomberg. That said, very few can even take advantage of the Nexus 10's higher-resolution display, leaving many Android non-smartphone users in the lurch.

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