Asus and Google sacrificed a few features to keep the Nexus 7's price low. There's no rear camera, no HDMI output, no cellular support, and no external memory card slot.
But after cracking the tablet open, I found a lot to like inside the Nexus 7. And, its hardware is definitely a step up from Amazon's Kindle Fire.
Full TechRepublic teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Google Nexus 7
What I like
I really like how easily the Nexus 7's case opens. Like the Kindle Fire, but unlike the iPad, the Nexus 7's back cover pops right off, giving you quick access to the tablet's internal hardware.
The device's removable components are another positive. The battery is not soldered to the motherboard and is easily removed. The speaker assembly, headphone jack, and USB connector can all be disconnected and replaced. Even the camera, upper microphone, motherboard, and internal frame are simple to remove.
My only complaints about the Nexus 7's construction are minor.
First, Asus used two large pieces of copper alloy shielding inside the device. One piece covers part of the motherboard and display, including the ribbon cable for the headphone jack and Micro-USB port assembly. The other shield covers the LCD connector. Both copper shields are held in place with adhesive. You could tear them during removal.
Second, the Nexus 7's LCD and front glass panel are fused together. This construction method is common on smartphones and tablets, but it means that when you break one part, you'll need to replace both.
Edge over Amazon Kindle Fire (for now)So how does the Nexus 7 stack up against the other big $200 tablet -- Amazon's Kindle Fire?
Google's tablet definitely has the edge in hardware. Its quad-core Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM are a step above the Fire's dual-core TI OMAP 4430 processor and 512MB of RAM. The Nexus 7 is also available in both 8GB ($199) and 16GB ($249) models. The Fire only comes in an 8GB version.
Analysts, however, expectlater this year. Apple may also introduce a smaller, cheaper iPad in the Fall. The Nexus 7 won't be the most powerful 7-inch tablet for long.
A more detailed version of this story was first published on TechRepublic's Cracking Open.