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Photos: Google's Nexus 7 tablet serves up Jelly Bean

The Nexus 7 is the first tablet that Google will sell directly to the public, starting at £159 for the quad-core device running the next version of Android, Jelly Bean
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1 of 5 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET News

Nexus 7 tablet front

Google took the wraps off its Nexus 7 Android tablet on Wednesday, following months of speculation.

The quad-core seven-incher is mainly notable for three reasons: it is the first tablet to be sold directly by the company, it will be the first device to ship with Android 'Jelly Bean' 4.1, and it will also be very cheap for its high specifications, with a starting price of £159.

People in the UK can pre-order it now from Google Play, and it will start shipping in mid-July. The £159 version will come with 8GB of storage, while a £199 version will come with 16GB.

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2 of 5 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET News

Nexus 7 back

The Nexus range, which has been all about smartphones until now, always ships with the latest version of Android in vanilla form, without manufacturer customisations.

Nexus devices are also the first to get updates to Android. As can be seen in this shot, the Nexus 7 is made by Asus. The hardware maker built the tablet from scratch in four months, Asus chairman Jonny Shih told All Things D, saying the project was "torture" for its engineers.

However, the specifications and price of the device are almost identical to those of the ME370T, which Asus unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January but never got round to releasing.

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3 of 5 Josh Miller/CNET News

Nexus 7 side

Like the ME370T, the Nexus 7 has a 1280x800-pixel IPS screen, a quad-core Tegra 3 processor and a 12-core GPU.

The tablet weighs 340g, which is significantly lighter than the Kindle Fire's 413g. At its 7-inch screen size, the Nexus 7 is much more of a direct competitor to Amazon's Android-based tablet than it is to the bulkier and more unwieldy iPad.

However, the Nexus 7 is about twice as heavy as the basic Kindle e-reader, for those considering using Google's tablet for reading.

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4 of 5 Josh Miller/CNET News

Nexus 7 buttons

Google is making a big content push with the Nexus 7, not only bundling it with a £15 Google Play voucher but also preloading it with books and movies.

The tablet will ship with The Bourne Dominion e-book, Transformers: Dark of the Moon movie, magazines such as Popular Science, and Coldplay and Rolling Stones songs.

Magazines are a new addition to the Google Play store, as are TV shows.

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5 of 5 Josh Miller/CNET News

Nexus 7 top

The front-facing camera on the Nexus 7 has a 1.2-megapixel resolution.

Google is pushing the device as ideal for Google+ 'Hangouts', or videochats. It says the feature is now used by more people on mobile devices than on the desktop.

In addition, Google+ is now available for tablets for the first time, the company said. Initially, it is for Android 3.0 devices only, but a version for iPads will follow.

At the I/O conference, the company also unveiled Google+ Events, which lets people set up meetings, parties and other group events via the social network, tapping into Google Calendar to do so.

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