The Best Seven-Inch Tablet?
As 7-inch tablets become more popular, three products have emerged as the leaders in this category: Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX, Apple’s Ipad Mini, and Google’s Nexus 7. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Let’s compare these products and consider who should buy what...
Kindle Fire Vs Nexus 7 Vs iPad Mini 2
The $399 iPad Mini 2’s Retina display is its claim to fame. In many tests, it proves to be the highest-resolution, most responsive touch-screen available in any form factor, with a breathtaking 2048 x 1536 pixels of resolution (326ppi). However, the Retina also has the narrowest color range of the trio discussed here, and the highest mirror reflection ratio and lowest brightness/contrast characteristics; the latter traits mean the iPad Mini will be the hardest tablet to read under direct sunlight.
The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX have identical price tags ($229) and nearly identical displays with 1920x1200 (323 ppi) resolution, and employ display technology that delivers 100 percent color gamut exceeding the color quality of many HD TVs and monitors. Translation, all three have superb displays, but the Nexus and HDX will do better under sunny skies.
The newest Mini sports 1 GB of RAM and a dual-core A7 processor that clocks in at 1.3GHz. The Kindle Fire HDX is powered by a 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor with 2 GB of RAM, giving it plenty of power to run any Android app and multitask. Google’s 2013 Nexus 7 is powered by a 1.5 Ghz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro with 2 GB of RAM. Looks like the HDX gets the nod for speed.
More PROs and CONs
Aside from the obvious big difference in price tags, each of these seven-inch tablets has its own compelling features.
The iPad Mini 2 is a significant improvement over its predecessor, providing a 7.9 inch form factor that delivers a bit more screen area than the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire. Apple is throwing in iWork and iLife apps with the iPad Mini 2, giving users powerful tools right out of the box.
The Kindle Fire HDX comes with a “Mayday” button that connects you to tech support with a single press. Amazon’s Appstore is full of apps for every need and growing. If you're a music fan, the HDX offers the best sound, with dual stereo speakers and Dolby Digital Plus.
The biggest advantages of the Nexus 7 stem from its design and production by Google, the fount of Android: apps are abundant and there’s no waiting for Android updates. Google is using the Nexus 7 to pitch the “pure Android experience” upon which the company’s overall business strategy rests.
If you're a Gmail fan, the Nexus and iPad Mini both offer apps that work well. But Amazon's Kindle lineup doesn't offer access to Gmail, any of the related Google apps (Drive, Maps, Calendar) or even the Google Play app store. (I've read that there is a way to shoehorn the Google Apps onto a Kindle Fire HDX, but it's a bit geeky.)
If you're an Android or Kindle user that loves the Swype-style input, which lets you quickly "draw" words on the touchscreen keyboard, you'll be disappointed that it's not available on any iPad.
I give the iPad Mini extra points for style, and ease of use. Two-year-olds can figure out how to use them. The Android-based Kindle Fire and Nexus offer multi-tasking and have more customizable interfaces. But that does translate to a somewhat bigger learning curve.
The Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HDX and the iPad Mini all offer models with 4G LTE connectivity (mobile data plans) for access to the Internet when you're outside of wifi range.
Which One Should You Buy?
All of these tablets want to lock you into their “ecosystem” of apps, hardware, and services. Apple wants you to buy apps and music from iTunes, and their product line from iPod all the way to desktop Macs are nicely integrated. The commerce-oriented Kindle Fire is basically Amazon’s mobile kiosk intended to woo you into buying ebooks and tangible goods from Amazon.
The Nexus 7 is a more of a general-purpose tablet, and the open-source nature of Android appeals to users who don’t want to be locked into Apple’s proprietary world. But of course, Google will nudge you to their Play Store for music, app and video purchases.
When you get right down to it, the tech features are becoming less relevant as every tablet becomes “good enough” for web browsing, email, games, music, ebooks and video. The Kindle Fire HDX, the Nexus 7 and the iPad Mini all have awesome displays, fast processors, and long battery life. They're all fairly easy to use, and have tons of apps available.
They each have their strengths, and some minor drawbacks, mentioned above. One of the biggest differences is price, where Apple is asking $399 for the Mini, as compared to $229 for either the HDX or the Nexus. Is it really worth an extra $170? Comparing the upgraded 32GB models with 4G/LTE, the price differences are more dramatic. Nexus 32GB 4G/LTE ($349), Fire HDX 32GB 4G/LTE ($384), iPad Mini 32GB 4G/LTE ($629). Would you pay a $280 premium for that Apple logo now?
If you're an Apple fan, and you already own an iPod or a MacBook, maybe so. If you read a lot, the Kindle has the best ebook experience. If a pure Android environment with maximum flexibility and unfettered access to apps if your goal, then go for the Nexus.
Share your opinions and experience with these tablets, post a comment or question below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 23 Jan 2014
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