It's fair to say a few eyebrows were raised when Google picked Asus to partner on their flagship tablet. Asus are relative newcomers to the consumer electronics arena, having previously made their reputation as one of the world's premier motherboard producers.
It's been a meteoric rise for the Taiwanese company, and they're now the fifth larger producer of home computers in the world, carrying enough cachet to convince Google to pick them to construct their first attempt at a serious competitor to the iPad.
Reviews for the Nexus 7 have been broadly positive, with universal praise for the impressive stats and low cost price. Asus' Head of UK and Nordic markets Benjamin Yeh has revealed the creative process behind the tablet, with some surprising insights..
"Our top executives met Google’s top executives at CES to talk about opportunities and how they saw the future market. That’s when we came up with the idea of the Google Nexus 7 by Asus. That was in January, and mass production started in May," he said.
"So, that was four months. For a mass-market device, from concept to mass production, we’re talking about six to twelve months. Six months is very tight…
"The device had to be thin and light, with a weight under 340 grams. So to get that lightness, normally the CPU would be small [low-powered]. But to get media playback, and particularly high definition media, the processor has to be powerful. The strong CPU in a very small space is difficult. And also the screen: you want it to be very responsive and also to have multitouch . So normally the LCD should be thick," he continued.
"So, for the LCD module, we used a special design, which we called Asus TruVivid. That is actually two technologies together – the first is a one-glass solution, and the second is lamination.
Regarding the efficiency of the battery, Yeh has opened up about the tortuous process Asus went through:
"Obviously, we could make a battery ten times bigger with ten times the battery life, but that’s no good. [..] So, if we can’t make it bigger, how can we make it more efficient?
"An electronic device depends on electricity moving through capacitors – to the [integrated circuit], to the CPU, through the memory. So, on the circuit board, there is a chance at every single point of an electrical leakage. You can detect that by heat generation – that means the system is not efficient: it’s losing energy as heat. So, we have a team of engineers who spent a month just checking every point on the PCB board, and the voltage at every single point and on every component."