Legal professionals seeking a low-cost alternative to the Apple iPad tablet computer have a new option in the Google Nexus 7. The devices are due to ship in mid-July with a price of $199, Google announced Wednesday. The price is on par with the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, but significantly lower than the least expensive iPad.
The tablet will run Android 4.1 (aka Jelly Bean), which is the newest version of Google's mobile operating system, and will use a high-end processor not typically found in lower-cost devices, the quad-core Tegra 3.
But there are some sacrifices. Nexus 7 has a maximum of 16GB internal storage, lacks a cellular modem (although its Wi-Fi could be tethered to a smartphone or an external modem), and doesn't include a memory card slot.
Whether that matters to iPad-happy lawyers will be determined in time. "I think that most lawyers in law firms have a herd mentality and they just go with whatever everyone else is doing," said Rick Georges, a solo attorney and legal technology blogger for the Future Lawyer website.
Georges, based in St. Petersburg, Fla., said he already carries a Nexus smartphone and frequently uses a Samsung tablet while in court. When the Nexus 7 ships, he'll be selling the latter, he joked.
Google's announcement arrived shortly after lawyers lost another iPad alternative, at least temporarily: Apple was granted an injunction on Tuesday against importation and sales in the U.S. of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1. Samsung said it would appeal the decision, and that other Samsung tablets, including the latest 10.1 II, are not affected. (Apple did not comment on whether it would seek an injunction against the Nexus 7.)
The news also follows Microsoft's announcement of its new tablet last week. That device, called Surface, raised eyebrows with its innovative keyboard options, which may appeal to legal industry shoppers. However the Redmond, Wash. software giant did not reveal how much Surface would cost and only hinted at an October shipping target.
In addition to the Nexus 7, officials at Mountain View, Calif.-based Google announced updates to the Google Plus social network, and said that Google Glass -- high-tech eyeglasses with lenses and screens that can stream live video, which Google co-founder and special projects leader Sergey Brin introduced in an elaborate presentation involving stuntmen parachuting onto San Francisco's Moscone Center and rappelling into the theater -- will start shipping to developers early in 2013. There is no time frame for a consumer version of the development prototypes, they said.
"This is not something that lawyers are going to use to practice," Georges noted about Google Glass. Of the education and training prospects, he said, "I am skeptical. I think that's going to be a niche market."