July 07, 2012, 7:05 AM — The Google Nexus 7 tablet resets expectations of what an inexpensive tablet can and should be. Starting at $199, the Nexus 7 clearly guns for Amazon's same-priced but lesser quality Kindle Fire, which runs Amazon's limited flavor of Android. Make no mistake: Of today's 7-inch Android tablets, the Nexus 7 is the one to beat, and it is handily one of the best-executed Android tablets of any size you can buy. In some ways, that's not saying much; for as much as it does well--it has a tremendous 10-plus hour battery life, and it produces reasonably clear text and accurate colors--the Nexus 7 stumbles by leaving out an expansion slot. You need to step up to the 16GB $249 version for the Nexus 7 to make a sensible purchase, and even then you'll be settling short of the ideal tablet you really want.
The lack of a memory card slot hobbles Google's shiny new tablet before you can even get moved in and set up. Android has always held a big advantage over Apple's iOS in its ability to expand on-board storage via a memory card; in fact, this is something that every tablet competitor to the Nexus 7 but the Amazon Kindle Fire (and Apple's iPad, natch) has. The Kindle Fire has taken lots of flack for providing a baseline model with only 8GB of storage and no room to grow.
It's not clear why Google opted to leave out the card slot. Cutting it may be as much about Google's live-in-the-cloud philosophy and services as it is Google and Nexus 7 manufacturer Asus trying to meet an aggressive price. If it is indeed Google's emphasis on cloud services that's behind this choice--and likely that's the case, given that Google bills the Nexus 7 as being "Made for Google Play,"-- that frankly makes Google's despotism no better than Apple's decision to keep users in its walled garden or Amazon's decision to force us to use its cloud services with Kindle Fire.