The Google Nexus 7 tablet has a starting price of $199. For that price you get a 7 inch tablet with a quad-core processor and Google Android 4.1 software — but just 8GB of storage.
If you want 16GB, you’ll need to pony up $249. And it turns out a lot of people do want that extra storage, because Google and its retail partners have already sold out of 16GB tablets.
According to The Guardian, that’s at least partly because Google underestimated demand for that model, figuring the 8GB $199 Nexus 7 tablet would be more popular.
The smaller model is still in stock at the Google Play Store, but if you want a 16GB model you have to sign up to receive an email when the tablet becomes available again.
Google’s tablet doesn’t have a microSDHC card slot, which means that it’s difficult to add extra storage space once you buy the tablet. You can root the tablet and install a third party app called StickMount to enable support for USB flash drives. But that’s a pretty clunky solution.
So the best way to get a device with more space for apps, media, documents, and other files is just to buy the 16GB model.
I’m not surprised Google was banking on the smaller model. Not only is an 8GB tablet cheaper to buy (and cheaper to produce) than a model with 16GB. But Google is also in the business of promoting cloud services.
When you buy a Nexus 7 tablet, Google provides you with $25 to spend on apps, games, music, movies, books, and other content from the Google Play Store. If you buy music, movies, or books, you can stream them directly from the internet to your device. There’s no need to download and save anything at all.
That’s all fine and well if you have a speedy internet connection handy. But the Nexus 7 is a WiFi-only device, so good luck streaming video while you’re riding a bus or train.
You can download movies for offline viewing — but when I downloaded the free Transformers: Dark of the Moon video that came free with my Nexus 7 purchase, I found the 2.5 hour movies took up nearly 3GB, or roughly half the available disk space on my tablet (the operating system and app storage takes up about 2GB of the 8GB).
In other words — 8GB isn’t a lot of space. Google and manufacturing partner Asus probably could have alleviated demand for the 16GB model by including a microSDHC card slot for additional storage. But without that option, it’s not surprising that many shoppers are interested in the model with more storage. $249 is still a pretty good price for a 7 inch tablet with a 1280 x 800 pixel display, 1GB of RAM, and 1.2 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor.