Today brings the first rumor of a pure-Google tablet. Russian site Mobile Review has received information that Google recently asked LG to create a Nexus tablet that would showcase Android Honeycomb, raw and unaltered by carrier junk. The tablet is expected to launch in "mid-summer" or Autumn.
To be honest, this news was a foregone conclusion after the launch of the Nexus S. Google places a lot of value on having a smartphone line with carefully selected hardware and a clean version of Android. The Nexus phones, while not great sellers, give Google employees and Android developers a "baseline" device to work with.
Google has made it very clear that they consider Android tablets to be a different beast from Android smartphones. Honeycomb is a dedicated tablet version of the open-source OS. It makes sense that Google would want a "Nexus" for the slate form-factor.
The only real question here is whether or not this tablet will be for internal testing use, like the CR-48 Chrome OS notebook, or an actual product line. I'm leaning against the latter. Google has been working very closely with several big manufacturers- Motorola and HTC and Samsung- and they may be leery of upsetting their partners.
The choice of LG as the Nexus tablet manufacturer- if true- could indicate some meaningful favoritism on Google's part. I can think of two possible features of the LG Optimus Pad that may have piqued the search engine's interest. The obvious one would be 3D. But I think the Pad's uniquely narrow design is the culprit. Of all the tablets I've played with, the Optimus (G-Slate) is the most comfortable to use one-handed.
The Google I/O conference hits on May 10-11. It seems likely that the Nexus tablet will see its big reveal then. If they follow the CR-48's lead, the tablet will go out to convention attendees and a select list of developers and partners. If the Nexus S ends up being a complete product line, it may end up with its own special launch event. We're closing in on the moment of truth, at any rate. And Google tends to be a leaky sieve when it comes to rumors.