Our favorite rumormonger Digitimes is back today with claims that Google and ASUS are working on two new versions of the Nexus 7 tablet. One version will be a $99 entry-level model and the other will be a $199 ultra-thin upgraded model. ASUS quickly denied the rumors, but we wouldn’t be surprised if there was some truth to the reports.
Previously, Digitimes said there would also be a Nexus 10 tablet and a Nexus 7 with a 3G modem. We haven’t heard much about either of those devices, but the Nexus 7 with 3G could be one of these new rumored versions.
The original bill of materials cost for the Nexus 7 was $151 for the 8 GB version and $159 for the 16 GB version, so Google would need to make some sacrifices to get the retail cost below $99. The most expensive components in the device are the display, touchscreen, and processor.
Digitimes mentions that Asus will be using a TN (Twisted Nematic) display panel from HannStar Display, which could help lower the cost. TN Panels draw less power than competing technologies and they are cheap to manufacture. ASUS might also decide to replace the Tegra 3 processor with a cheaper model from Qualcomm.
Google’s other option would be to subsidize the cost of the device with some form of advertising, similar to what Amazon has done with the newer Kindle Fires. They could also lower the price by selling a 3G version with a contract for wireless service.
We still think the Nexus 7 is a good buy over other entry-level tablets like the Kindle Fire and Nook HD, but it would be nice to see some upgraded versions. A lower price point would make the tablet accessible to more people, and it would encourage more developers to optimize their Android apps for tablets. I’m sure some Android fans would also appreciate a higher resolution display in the refreshed $199 model.
What would you like to see in a new version of the Nexus 7?