Google finally got tablets, in a way Apple still hasn't

I know it's still early in the game: the Nexus 7 hasn't even started shipping yet. But with the initial reviews being overwhelmingly positive, I think it's time we call it.

Google has finally figured out tablets.

Google has finally figured out tablets, in a way that Apple, despite their best efforts, failed to.

Remember the introduction of the iPad. Steve Jobs stood on stage and said, if there were to be a device that wasn't a phone, and wasn't a laptop, it would need to serve a function that neither currently does. It needs to hit a sweet spot in between. The iPad, Apple believed, would do that.

But I'm a heavy iPad user, a huge fan of the product, and even I can admit that it doesn't do that. It's not better than my laptop for creating content, only consuming it. Yeah, I can type out an essay, or code myself a website in Diet Coda, but when you really get down to it, I'd rather do that on my MacBook Air. On the flipside, it's not nearly as portable as my phone, so I'm less likely to have it with me wherever I go. It's so much heavier than my phone that I work myself into strange positions just to sit down and comfortably read an article, or end up propping it up on a stand.

But the software on the iPad is brilliant. Apple nailed iOS for tablets, and set the path for others to follow. The problem lies in the iPad hardware.

And that's where the Nexus 7 comes in.

When you look at it, it looks like a paperback novel, or a moleskine notebook. Objects we all know and love, because you can throw them in a bag and not worry about them. You can hold them in your hands and barely notice the weight. They're the right size, super light, and feel good in the hand.

Whereas the iPad is much better than a laptop for content consumption, but only marginally more portable, the Nexus 7 is similarly better for consumption, and has a form factor making it only a bit less portable than a smartphone. Whereas the iPad can be uncomfortable to use, the Nexus 7 can rest in your hands and feel like a book.

Jelly Bean also seems like, with just a little bit more developer support, it might finally give iOS a run for its money on tablets.

And it does it for $200 less than an iPad 2. You could get 2 Nexus 7's, store one in your glove compartment, and take the other around with you.

I bought an iPad 3 as soon as it came out. But I'm keenly watching the Nexus 7, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if I ended up owning one within a month.