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Google's Nexus 7 tablet: better than Kindle Fire?

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Paul Sakuma/AP

(Read caption) Good news for bibliophiles: the Google Nexus 7 tablet is compact, well-designed for e-reading, affordable ($199), and will begin shipping in mid-July.

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With the dramatic unveiling of its Nexus 7 tablet (we hear skydiving was involved), Google has both dived headlong into consumer electronics and shaken up the Apple-Amazon tablet wars.

Google announced the release of its first tablet, the $199 Nexus 7, at its San Francisco developers conference Wednesday. More than just another tablet to enter the hot new market, the Nexus 7 illustrates Google’s determination to reinvent itself as a “lifestyle and culture purveyor” manufacturing its own hardware to compete with the likes of Apple and Amazon. It’s a new direction for the company, and one that heats up the tablet wars in a big way.

The good news for bibliophiles? Unlike Microsoft’s promising new Surface tablet, the Nexus 7 is compact, relatively affordable, and designed for e-reading. (Google’s director of product management Hugo Barra actually compared the Nexus 7’s form to a paperback book, touting the device’s compact, easy-to-hold shape.)

"We want things to be simple, beautiful and really smart," said Mr. Barra at Wednesday’s unveiling.

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