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Cheaper, slimmer Google Nexus 7 rumored for Q1 2013

$99 rumors persist, despite denials

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Google may be readying a revamped model of the middle sibling in its Nexus line of Android devices for as early as the first quarter of 2013, if the supply-chain snoops at Taiwanese tech news site DigiTimes are correct.

Sources in the tech manufacturing sector are whispering that the Chocolate Factory and its manufacturing partner Asustek are "making headway" on a new, slimmer version of the popular Nexus 7 fondleslab.

Rumor has it that the new device's trim profile is due to a move from Asus' custom LCD screen technology to a glass-film-film (GFF) touchscreen provided by Chinese panel maker O-Film Tech.

Switching to GFF should also reduce manufacturing costs, sources say, which could allow the new device to ship priced as low as $99 – although somewhere in the realm of $129-149 seems more likely.

A new touchscreen could also help to correct the display issues reported by owners of Google's first-generation slab, which many say delivers washed-out colors with poor image contrast.

Google unveiled the original Nexus 7 to much fanfare at its sold-out Google I/O developer conference in June and it has proved popular, likely due in large part to its low price tag. Initially it went for $199 for an 8GB version, but although it reportedly has slim margins, Google managed to up the memory on the low-end model to 16GB in October.

Also in October, the Chocolate Factory rounded out its Nexus product family with the Nexus 4 smartphone and the 10-inch Nexus 10 tablet. If it is indeed readying a new Nexus 7 model for 2013, it will be the first time it has refreshed its midsize slab, other than to increase its storage.

Of course, we would be remiss if we did not point out that we've heard these kinds of rumblings before. Rumors of a price drop to $99 have dogged the Nexus 7 almost since its release, likely owing more to wishful thinking than anything else.

Asus denied that a $99 Nexus 7 was imminent in September and then again in October – the latter time in response to another DigiTimes report.

If the Taiwanese rumor mongers have their facts straight this time, however, Google could bring its new Nexus to market within the next three months. But it may choose to wait until the second quarter, sources say, because consumer sales are typically stronger then. ®

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