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Nexus 4 launch finally lets gadgets speak for themselves

As Microsoft launched Windows Phone, Google stole the show -- by letting the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 speak for themselves.

Bravo, Google. Bravo. As Microsoft geared up for its big Windows Phone announcement last night, with a minimum of fuss Google revealed the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10, two very cool and very affordable new Android devices. And like the sibling who announces their engagement at your birthday party, Google made off with thunder, limelight, and the show.

And what's more, the Big G stole the show without even putting on a show. Google had planned its own launch event for the Nexus 4 phone and Nexus 10 tablet, but was forced to cancel. In the hushed moment left by the cancellation of the event, the products were allowed to speak for themselves.

The announcement event would no doubt have boasted all manner of grandstanding, hyperbole and spectacle. How would Google have topped skydivers leaping, abseiling and stunt riding into the auditorium, all live on cameras beamed from their skydiving eyes? As it turns out, all Google had to do was reveal two products and their prices.

With the cancellation of the event, the new Nexus devices were allowed to stand on their own two feet. No overreaching hyperbole, no distracting grandstanding: just two sophisticated gadgets and two seriously attractive price tags.

Here's the new devices, said Google. Here's where you can buy them. Here's how much they cost. Lovely.

Google Nexus 4 and Nexus 10

And no announcing a new device then keeping us waiting for months, leaving fickle gadget fiends dangerously close to losing interest before the thing even comes out. Speaking of which: hey, Nintendo, how you getting on with that new console you mentioned, like, a year ago? Wii U something?

Yes, the dearth of hoopla was a blessed relief. No firing a new gadget out of a proverbial glitter cannon of inflated promises, no CEO arriving on a zipline of hyperbolic chest-thumping, no breathless odds-shouting about how innovative and life-changing the new stuff is.

That stuff is all Apple's fault, of course. As with so many things in the technology world, Apple created its own form of something that already existed, honing the product announcement to a finely crafted art.

At first, it was fun. But there's only so many times you can watch a CEO spend an hour reciting sales figures then holding up a new gadget that's the same as the last one, just ever so slightly different, and expecting us to weep with unbridled joy at our good fortune to live in a time when such marvels are possible.

And let's face it, only Steve Jobs could pull that stuff off. Who can forget the moment Samsung tried to copy Jobs' signature "one more thing" and revealed... some pop-up shops. Cringe-worthy doesn't even begin to cover it.

So will this be the end of overblown product launches? Probably not. But it was certainly a breath of fresh air, even if it was accidental, for the new gadgets to speak for themselves.

And so clearly do they speak for themselves that the Android announcement completely overshadowed Windows Phone 8. So comprehensively did Android crush Windows Phone's big moment that I fully expected a giant Monty Python foot to descend from above the Microsoft stage and smush Jessica Alba into a Windows Phone paste.

It remains to be seen if Windows Phone 8 will be a hit, or whether Nexus' price will defeat Apple's polish. As the dust settles on the most hectic week consumer technology has seen for months, years, millenia, it's the first time the giants of Google, Microsoft and Apple have faced off so squarely. What an age we live in!

What do you think of Google's new Nexi, Microsoft's new Windows Phones and Apple's latest kit? Encapsulate this era in the comments or on our epoch-defining Facebook page.