Google to unveil tablet to rival Kindle Fire, says Asus exec

The upcoming new tablet is expected to be priced competitively enough to give Amazon's Kindle Fire a run for its money.

Google Galaxy Nexus screen.
Google Galaxy Nexus screen. Google

Google will soon launch a tablet made by and co-branded with Asus, an executive for Asus said today.

"It's targeting Amazon," the unidentified exec told Reuters about the device. "The Kindle is based on Google's platform but with its own service, so Google has to launch its own service, too."

Tune in to CNET's live blog from the Google I/O keynote starting at 9:30 a.m. PT Wednesday.

Google is expected to unveil its own 7-inch tablet at the company's I/O conference , which starts today and runs until Friday. But the Asus executive's statement is the first that seemingly confirms an upcoming launch of the new product.

The exec was mum about any details on price, features, or actual launch date. Reports from others sources, such as Gizmodo Australia, say the Google Nexus tablet will be equipped with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean , a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of memory, and a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera.

An IPS (in-plane switching) display will offer a 178-degree viewing angle with a resolution of 1280x800 pixels, said the Gizmodo report. The tablet is designed to operate for nine hours on a single charge. Google is also reportedly kicking in support for near field communication, Google Wallet, and Android Beam, a feature that lets users share contacts, apps, and other content with other NFC-enabled devices.

An 8GB model will cost $199, while the 16GB version will sell for $249, according to Gizmodo. Those numbers either match or beat the price tags of most other Android tablets.

A Google tablet would also offer another key benefit. The company could roll out updates directly to users without having to go through its Android partners, a step that often delays available updates.

And what of the Kindle Fire?

Assuming the reported specs are accurate, a Google tablet would outshine its Amazon rival with a higher resolution, the front-facing camera, the latest version of Android, an HDMI port, the NFC support, and a couple of other features.

Google's tablet would also connect users to Google Play to grab music, apps, and other content. Kindle Fire owners must go through Amazon's Appstore to pick up their favorite items.

But Amazon isn't standing still. A source told CNET this week that the retail giant is aiming to launch the Kindle Fire 2 as early as next month . The new Fire would reportedly offer a higher resolution display and a camera, among other features.

 

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