In 2008, when the Eee PC was revolutionizing the computing world and driving every manufacturer to make cheaper and smaller laptops, Sony washed its hands of the whole thing. The "race to the bottom," the company said, would profoundly impact the industry, killing profit margins and flooding the market with cheap, terrible machines. Sony was wrong, its stance lasting about a year before joining the competition with its own VAIO W.
Four years on we're buying better laptops than ever before and, with the netbook class now more or less dead, that downward competition seems to have shifted to the tablet front. A flood of cheap, truly awful slates preceded Amazon's Kindle Fire, the $200 tablet from a major brand that looks to have been the proper catalyst in plunging prices. The latest challenger to enter the competition is ASUS, partnering with Google to create the first Nexus tablet, a device that not only will amaze with its MSRP, but with its quality. It's called the Nexus 7, it too is $200, and it's better than Amazon's offering in every way but one.