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NEW YORK â€” In the 1982 sci-fi movie â€œBlade Runner,â€ there are hints that the hero, played by Harrison Ford, is an artificial human â€” an â€œandroidâ€ or â€œreplicant.â€ His job is to go out and kill other, rogue androids.
If heâ€™s an android, heâ€™s of the latest model, Nexus 7. Thatâ€™s also the name Google Inc. has picked for its first tablet. Clearly, its mission is to go out and kill rogue tablets running Googleâ€™s Android software.
Specifically, the Nexus 7 seems to have been designed to give anyone who bought a Kindle Fire from Amazon.com Inc. or a Nook Tablet from Barnes Noble Inc. a case of buyerâ€™s remorse.
The Nexus 7 costs $199, the same that Amazon and Barnes Noble charge for their tablets. But itâ€™s better than theirs in significant ways. Google announced the tablet last week and is taking preorders for delivery in mid-July.
Why is Google targeting the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet? Because theyâ€™ve been relatively successful competitors to Apple Inc.â€™s iPad tablet, yet Google is getting no benefit from their success.
Google makes its Android operating software available for any device manufacturer to use. Amazon and Barnes Noble took Android and modified it heavily. Namely, they took out the applications that point to Googleâ€™s services and the advertising it sells.
Other tablets, such as Samsungâ€™s Galaxy, use the â€œproper,â€ Google version of Android, but theyâ€™ve been more expensive than the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet. Apparently, Google thought it was time to make a really good, proper Android tablet for $199.
Itâ€™s succeeded. The the Nexus 7 is a really good value. Itâ€™s made by AsusTek Computer, a Taiwanese company that was originally planning to sell a similar tablet for $249.
The Nexus 7 is a plain black slab with a screen thatâ€™s 7 inches on the diagonal â€” the same size as the Nook Tablet and the Fire. The most noticeable feature it has over the competition is a low-resolution camera, facing the user. That means the Nexus 7 can be used for videoconferencing, but itâ€™s nearly impossible to use for snapshots. It also has a microphone, which the Fire lacks, making Amazonâ€™s device useless even for audio conferencing.