Amid early indications that Honeycomb tablets aren’t the consumer draw they were expected to be, Google is purported to be prepping a tablet of its own to show the way. Here’s a guide to the rumours surrounding the slate, each of which is subjected to Top10.com’s scrupulous truth test.
1 LG is making it
The original Nexus phone came to us courtesy of HTC. The Nexus S was care of Samsung. So it wouldn’t be without precedent for Google to spread the love around when it comes to choosing Android partners for its own-branded gadgets.
Apparently, LG was the sole phone and tablet maker willing to agree to Google’s terms. That checks out too.
The South Korean phone maker is currently working hard to make up ground in the Android market after losing out to its rivals early on due to its lower-end Optimus phones comparing badly with the likes of the original Desire and Galaxy S. And in the shape of the impressive 2X and the Optimus 3D, it’s making a good fist of it.
However, pairing closely with Google and palling up to the search giant is a smart move too. That’s because partners are likely to be given priority for new developments in the OS, meaning that future LG Android kit could showcase innovations before its rivals. LG would also benefit by being associated in tech folks’ mind with a cutting-edge phone that offers the best and latest suite of features that Android can muster.
2 It’ll showcase a new OS iteration
Again, it’s prudent here to examine the examples of the two Nexus phones. The Nexus One debuted Android 2.1. It’s successor offered the first chance to get on board with Android 2.3. If precedent is our guide, we can expect the Nexus Tablet to showcase a new take on Honeycomb too.
Adding credence to this one, is that Google will intend the Nexus tablet to be a test-bed for Android tablets and act as an example of what it expects from third-party manufacturers. In order to do that, it makes sense for it to run a version of the platform they haven’t got their paws on yet.
3 Mid-summer/early autumn release
The mooted launch date for the slate would mean that it arrives when other tablets running older versions of Android have just hit the shelves – irking its buddies in the Open Handset Alliance no end. For that reason, we can’t see that happening.
4 Or it won’t drop until next year
Google’s Nexus One didn’t show until a long time after a slew of third-party phones had arrived. If the Nexus tablet is going to showcase a new version of the tablet Android OS, it won’t be ready for market for a while yet. We’re pencilling it in for late this year, or even early next year.
5 It’s no more than a prototype
Some tech watchers are suggesting that the tablet is for developers only and that it'll never come to market. We’re not buying that. Google simply has too much to gain from an own-branded tablet.
6 It’ll run vanilla Android
In the world of tech rumours, this is the closest you ever get to a dead cert. Google knows that the reason it’s been able to push out Android updates to its Nexus phones so smoothly is that they run a ‘pure’ version of the OS unfettered by custom skins and other fripperies. If it wants the Nexus tablet to act as an example to be followed by the mass of Android slate makers, it needs to be able to do that with its tablet computer too.
7 It’ll be sold sans contract-only
The less than stellar sales for the Nexus phones have been blamed squarely on the experimental sales models Google opted for which alienated carriers and consumers alike. This time around it doesn’t need support from carriers. We expect Google to dispense with contracts altogether and just sell the Nexus tablet SIM free, leaving folk to use it over their Wi-Fi connections instead of 3G.
8 HTC backed out
According to the rumour mill, HTC rejected the chance to make the tablet after being told that its Sense custom UI wasn’t welcome. That’s something we can well believe.
Thanks to the blockbuster success of the Desire range, one-time geek favourite HTC is now firmly established as one of the go-to brands for Android and a major player in the mass market. Thus emboldened, it doesn’t have to kowtow to Google any more. So if anyone is in a position to tell the Big G where to go, it's HTC.
9 3D playback and video recording
Specs for the tablet are a total mystery. But that hasn’t stopped idle speculation that Optimus Pad 3D-style functionality will be on board. Though, it’s speculation that’s ill-founded, we think. Perhaps fed chiefly by the fact that early reports about the tablet featured a snap of LG’s forthcoming slate complete with a pair of silly old skool 3D specs in shot behind it.
Although Google wants its tablet to showcase the best of Android, we think it’ll concentrate on core tablet functions and doing them brilliantly rather than the somewhat novelty feature of 3D.
10 Wi-Fi only
The most popular iPads are the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi only editions, with take-up for 3G versions a distant second. We think it’s a cert then that Google will have noted that and will ensure there’s a cut-price Wi-Fi version of its slate.