Before you buy a $199 Nexus 7, check the $149 Hisense Sero 7 Pro tablet

The de-facto standard for small Android tablets is arguably Google’s(s goog) own Nexus 7, which debuted last May. I was expecting to see the popular $199 slate get a refresh at last week’s Google I/O event, but that didn’t happen. Instead Google focused on software: Unifying the services and APIs between Android and Chrome. That opens up a window of opportunity for other Android tablet makers. Take, for example, the Hisense Sero 7 Pro, announced Thursday and now available at WalMart(s wmt).

Sero 7On the surface the Sero looks just like the Nexus 7 and it shares many of the same hardware specifications: a 7-inch 1280 x 800 IPS touchscreen, a quad-core 1.3 GHz Nvidia(s qcom) Tegra 3 chip, 10 hours of battery life and 1 GB of memory. The device also runs Android 4.2 out of the box, so the software is up to date. The Sero has a few extras though, when compared to the higher priced Nexus 7.

Hisense’s new tablet includes a mini-HDMI port and a microSD expansion slot; neither of which exist on Google’s tablet. The latter port may come in handy, mainly because the Sero only has 8 GB of internal storage. In this area, the Nexus comes out on top with the $199 tablet offering double the capacity. But the Nexus doesn’t have expandable storage, so that 16 GB is all you get.

If you want to output the Nexus 7 display to an external monitor you’re out of luck as it has no HDMI output nor does it support MHL adapters for that purpose.

The Sero 7 Pro has a front-facing camera like the Nexus 7 but it uses a 2 megapixel sensor as compared the 1.2 megapixels on the Nexus 7 camera. Hisense also added a rear camera — not found on the Nexus 7 — with a 5 megapixel sensor.

I may sneak over to my local WalMart to get a quick hands on with the new Hisense slate. If it’s essentially as good as the Nexus 7 with a few extra features included, I think it will be a hot seller at the large retailer. Of course, when Google eventually does give the Nexus 7 an overhaul, it could offer the current model for $149 or less.