The Best Seven-Inch Tablet?

Category: Gadgets

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.

Best Seven-Inch Tablet

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...

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This article was posted by on 23 Jan 2014

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Most recent comments on "The Best Seven-Inch Tablet?"

Posted by:

Bob M
23 Jan 2014

You said: The Nexus 7 is wifi-only.
Sorry, but your info is out-dated. The new Nexus 7 comes in a WiFi only model, as well as three other models with three unlocked LTE models (GSM, AT&T and T-mobile).

EDITOR'S NOTE: I sit corrected, and happily so! I've updated the text, thanks.

Posted by:

23 Jan 2014

I started my tablet experience with a generic 7", which did me well for a long time. I finally decided though that I wanted a longer battery life. Most of the generic tablets only last about 3-4 hours. I purchased last year's Nexus 7, a refurbished model. It arrived DOA. However, I sent it back to Asus and have not had any problems with it. I love it. It is fast with its quad-core processor. And its resolution is very good, although not as good as this year's brand. I spent only $119 for 16 gb version refurbished. I would do it again.

Posted by:

23 Jan 2014

Looking for some input. Currently, I own a DELL desktop computer. I do not own an I-Phone or any other "toys." I find that more and more radio stations are expanding to the web and when sports programs prevail, the programs in which I have an interest are moved to the Web radios. I do not have time to sit at my PC for some of these lenghty programs. I am thinking that a "pad" may help as I could carry it around the condo (two floors plus a basement) with me.
Any suggestions?

Posted by:

23 Jan 2014

I love my kindle,never had does everything and very pleased..

Posted by:

23 Jan 2014

All considered, it does seem as if Apple produces the most user friendly products. My brother was teaching my computer illiterate mother to use his Samsung (android) tablet and I was teaching her to use my iPad. In retrospect I wish I hadn't done so because the lovely 91year old lady found the iPad so much easier to understand. That was the last I saw of my iPad. She of course very graciously offered to pay me for it but how could I accept money from this little old lady? I ended having to buy myself another iPad. Thankfully I was not around when she wanted an iPhone 3 months later so my brother ended up buying it for her!

Posted by:

23 Jan 2014

My kindle HDX did not get the email about gmail. It works just fine for me. I do love the screen!

Posted by:

24 Jan 2014

Hi Bob,
Thank you for the brief.
It looks like I have to retire my old generic WiFi only Android2.2 for the winner that I consider is the Nexus due to OpenSource.
You omitted to do any sort of comparisons with respect to input/output interfaces and whether being able to achieve memory expansion via USB memory.
Also, can a Nexus be purchased with more than just WiFi version but not have it activated at the moment?

Posted by:

Don Morgan
24 Jan 2014

There is an issue with the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and I would like to see more insight into it. It scares me that the ratings on Amazon maybe be largely phony, both pro and con.
Apparently (even Amazon acknowledges it) there is a purplish blue line that appears all the way around the screen and even covers over text when you are reading. Many people comment on it and most say it is extremely annoying. I was about to place my order when I found out about this, and passed as a result.
The problem is, I really want one. How bad is this, actually?

Posted by:

24 Jan 2014

@ Don Morgan:
you may want to read:

God bless,

Posted by:

24 Jan 2014

" It is really worth an extra $170?" Should be 'Is it really ...'

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks, fixed now.

Posted by:

24 Jan 2014

If you read a lot, I do, at least 1 book per week. I am a gadget fan, I have a Mac, iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy 10.1, a Nook converted to JB via N2A chip, and a Nexus 7. I don't have the Fire, but all of them have the Kindle App (yes, the Nook as well since it is now essentially a Android tablet). Amazon also has the best selection and often the ebooks are cheaper on Amazon. So, you don't have to feel left out if you don't have a Kindle. This is not a put down on the Kindle, I would still accept it if someone gave it to me, but my next purchase would probably to replace the Galaxy with a different Android tablet in the 10" range since it is getting a bit long in tooth.

Posted by:

25 Jan 2014

Sorry, but your info is out-dated. The new Nexus 7 comes in a WiFi only model, as well as three other models with three unlocked LTE models (GSM, AT&T and T-mobile).

EDITOR'S NOTE: I sit corrected, and happily so! I've updated the text, thanks.


Are you kidding? I think that you should stand up, and upgrade your staff!!!

Posted by:

Joe Farkas
25 Jan 2014

Very good article, however, I would have liked to see some comparison as to their ability to grab and hold the Wi-Fi signal, i.e., the selectivity and sensibility of their radios. Is this something coming soon?



Posted by:

Don Morgan
25 Jan 2014

Salim, that is an interesting link you posted and may even be of some use to me. However, I can't imagine why you sent it with me in mind, since it has nothing to do with my post. The problem I questioned was taken directly from the amazon rating comments, not something I know to be true or have ever seen. In fact, I have never even seen a Kindle of any kind in use.

Posted by:

Sandy Papavasiliou
25 Jan 2014

I teach computer as a volunteer to oldies. A lady brought in a PendoPad. I googled them and they sell for $44 to $99 AU.

It may have a small harddrive, but suits the oldies. Seemed really effective. Email,games,google,ebooks,Facebook. What more will they need?

Posted by:

25 Jan 2014

"their product line ... are nicely integrated" Syntax standards slipping in Ask Bob Corporation??

EDITOR'S NOTE: I can see your point, but treat "product line" as "products" and it all makes sense. :-)

Posted by:

25 Jan 2014

Do all three of these products have a camera and a video camera capability? This seems to be a question no one can answer except one of my 2nd grade students who says" Oh, you just have to download it as a free App.? Really?

EDITOR'S NOTE: You can't download a camera, because it's hardware, not software. The iPad Mini and the Nexus 7 both have front facing 1.2MP (for video chat) and rear-facing 5MP cameras (for photos and videos). The Kindle Fire HDX has only the front-facing camera.

Posted by:

25 Jan 2014

I got an inexpensive 7" tablet, for my 9 year old granddaughter, this past October. I can only say ... She LOVES her tablet!!!

I didn't feel that a more expensive tablet would be the right gift, for a first time user and a child. I was happy to find a NextBook 7" Tablet at Wal-Mart for a nifty price of $79. It came with the Jelly Bean Android OS and has the capability to add Micro SD Cards, up to 32GB. Since, I didn't spend a lot of money on the tablet, I got her a Micro SD Card 16GB, to add to the original 8GB internal memory.

I am so happy, not only is my granddaughter ecstatic over her tablet, but that, this tablet has good reviews overall. She loves using the tablet, for reading, too. Basically, this tablet is good for "quiet time" for her and the household. Her Mom wants one badly, because it is just fun to use. Her Mom knows that the Micro SD Card can be increased to a 32GB card, which, can be another birthday gift or whatever. :)

Posted by:

25 Jan 2014

Bob - You didn't mention the photo/video capabilities of each. I originally bought my iPad for the photos. If / when I replace it I'd want the same or better.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The iPad Mini and the Nexus 7 both have front facing 1.2MP (for video chat) and rear-facing 5MP cameras (for photos and videos). The Kindle Fire HDX has only the front-facing camera.

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