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Google Nexus 7 vs Amazon Kindle Fire vs BlackBerry PlayBook

Yesterday, at Google I/O 2012 Day 1, the Mountain View-based company presented its 7-inch tablet. Most of the rumors were confirmed.

It is manufactured by ASUS, it has a 7-inch IPS display with HD resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels, quad-core Tegra 3 CPU clocked at 1.3 GHz and helped by a ULP GForce GPU (12 cores), 8 or 16 GB of internal storage, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera, 4,325+ mAh battery, a weight of 340 grams. Nexus 7 8 GB cost $199, while the $16 model is $249.

Nexus 7 is 10.5 mm and features Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, bluetooth, NFC, microUSB, and 3.5 mm jack.

Amazon’s first tablet, Kindle Fire, sports a 7-inch IPS display (1,024 x 600 pixels), 512 MB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, dual-core 1.0 GHz TI OMAP 4430 processor, 4.400 mAh battery, Wi-Fi b/g/n, microUSB and audio jack. Kindle Fire doesn’t have a camera but it is 11.4 mm thick and weighs in 413 grams. The Amazon tablet runs on a highly customized Android 2.3 Gingerbread version.

Least, but not last, BlackBerry PlayBook has a TI OMAP 4420 SoC based on two Cortex A9 cores clocked at 1 GHz and PowerVR SGX540 (same as Kindle Fire). The BlackBerry Tablet OS-powered slate comes with 1 GB of RAM, 16/32/64 GB of storage, 3G, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, bluetooth 2.1, microUSB and 3.5 mm jack.

BlackBerry PlayBook features two cameras: a rear-facing 5 megapixel camera with LED flash and 1080p video recording, and a front-facing 3 megapixel unit, also with full HD video recording support. PlayBook weighs in 425 grams, is 10 mm thick and is powered by a 5,300 mAh battery.

Now that we know the technical specifications of all the contestants of the best 7-inch tablet battle, let’s see the pluses and minuses of each model.

The first Android tablet that created some buzz was the first Samsung Galaxy Tab (2010 model), but both the technology and the Android have progressed since then.

Nexus 7’s first big drawback would be that the 3G is missing. A 7-inch tablet is supposed to be portable, and, without 3G, you are bound to a WiFi Hotspot which is not always available. Of course, you can tether the 3G connection of your smartphone, but this only depends on your data plan.

Kindle Fire can be considered a forerunner of the Google Nexus 7 tablet. When it was launched, in November 2011, Kindle Fire was bringing above average technical specifications for only $199. Amazon loses money each time one of us is buying a Kindle Fire, but the online retailer is winning from the content on the tablet: movie rental, music download, e-books and other items from the Amazon store.

BlackBerry Playbook is another 7-inch tablet with high-end hardware, but the operating system proved to be not-so-versatile. Now RIM optimized their device to run apps from Google Play.

When it was initially launched BB PlayBook had a price of $499, but since then RIM have cut off the price and now the tablet is available for $195. Kindle Fire is priced $199 and this was the main reason behind its commercial windfall. As I mentioned above, Nexus 7’s price is starting from $199, so we can consider them all equally matched in terms of price ($4 is not that much).

I guess there’s no point in talking about the tablet with the best technical specifications, but I’ll do it anyway. We have a clear winner when it comes to CPU – Nexus 7 (quad-core Tegra 3 vs dual-core TI OMAP 4420), GPU – Nexus 7 (ULP GForce GPU, 12 cores vs PowerVR SGX540, 2 cores), display resolution – Nexus 7, again (1,280 x 800 pixels vs 1,024 x 600 pixels) and RAM – we have a tie here between Nexus 7 and BB Playbook (both 1 GB).

For $199 all you can get is 8 GB of internal storage from any of the three manufacturers, so it’s a tie here, too, but you can get the best camera(s) along with the PlayBook (the rear-facing one is pretty useless for a tablet, but it’s a camera). The only other areas where PlayBook scores points against Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire is the 3G modem, battery and thickness (10 mm vs 10.5 for Nexus 7 vs 11.4 for Kindle Fire).

All three tablets come with WiFi, all three have Bluetooth and audio jack, but Nexus 7 is the only one with NFC. Besides this it’s the lightest (340 grams vs 413 – Kindle Fire vs 425 – Playbook) and is running on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Anyway, there’s no wonder which should be your option if you have $199 and you want to purchase a 7-inch tablet: Nexus 7. Will it become the most successful Android tablet ever? Or Amazon will strike back and introduce an even cheaper Kindle Fire 2?