Android this week: Nexus 7 cloned for $149; Google Edition HTC One; Chrome beta updated

android-this-week

Small slate shoppers have a new option to choose this week: Hisense debuted a tablet that looks like a Nexus 7. The Sera 7 Pro tablet uses the same basic hardware as Google’s own tablet –with a few improvements, even — but costs $50 less. WalMart is the exclusive retailer for the Android 4.2 slate, which is priced at $149.

Sero 7Most of the base components are the same between the two tablets: An Nvidia Tegra 3 chip, IPS display with 1280 x 800 resolution, 1 GB of memory, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC.

The Hisense model only comes with half of the storage capacity as the Nexus 7 — 8 GB vs 16 GB — but does include a microSD card slot for storage expansion. Both devices have front facing cameras while the Hisense model adds a rear, 5 megapixel camera. It also supports mini HDMI out for external displays while the Nexus 7 doesn’t.

I’m planning to check out the Sero 7 Pro at my local WalMart and compare the build quality to a Nexus 7. Assuming it’s comparable, I could see many people picking up one of these tablets at this price.

My other concern would be software updates going forward. Since Hisense isn’t known for Android devices, I’m wondering how quickly the tablet will see Android upgrades in the future. You definitely some piece of mind with this for the Nexus 7 since Google provides the updates directly and quickly.

That same question comes to mind when talking about “Google Edition” phones. Samsung has already announced a $649 version of its Galaxy S 4 that will run stock Android without Samsung’s customizations. Now sources suggest that an HTC One handset will be offered in a “Google Edition” as well. Since Google is selling such devices in the Google Play Store, my guess is that Google itself will push future updates. That hasn’t been made clear, however.

HTC One BlackRegardless, many who like the HTC One hardware but don’t like HTC Sense software may have the best of both worlds available soon. We’ll find out this coming week, when HTC is expected to announce an HTC One “Google Edition” smartphone.

With Samsung, and possibly HTC, offering “pure” Android devices, Google’s Nexus line will be interesting to watch. I have a feeling the new Nexus devices will be kept at lower prices with fewer cutting edge features and components if these “Google Edition” phones sell well.

All Android devices saw the Chrome beta browser get a substantial update this week. Note that the beta version is different from the generally available version of Chrome and both can co-exist on your Android smartphone. The beta edition gained full-screen browsing, a new graph showing bandwidth savings when using Google’s data compression feature and automatic language translation when browsing pages in non-native languages.

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