Not so long ago, there would have been little point in writing this article. Apple’s iPad completely dominated the entire tablet PC market, gathering a massive volume of sales and single-handedly galvanising consumers by showing them what a tablet could do. Times have now changed. Not that the iPad isn’t still the leader of the pack – it certainly is, and there is good reason for that. But Apple’s rivals have made real headway, presenting consumers with quite a tricky choice; especially towards the lower end of the market. Read on for a summary of the main contenders and decide for yourself which is best.
Apple iPad 4
At $499 for the most basic model, with WiFi connection only and 16GB of storage, the latest iPad is not aimed at cost-conscious consumers. So what do you get for your money? This fourth generation version of the device boasts increased speed and battery life thanks to hardware upgrades, alongside the ever-beautiful Retina screen. Users should now get 10 hours of usage before the battery runs out. Key to Apple’s appeal is the ecosystem – in other words, the way in which the iPad ties in with other Apple products and services such as iTunes and the App Store. The user experience is seamless and intuitive, and you will have access to a wealth of apps thanks to popularity with developers. As with any Apple product, be aware that you are paying over the odds for the label.
The Mini is aimed at those who are seeking a more compact tablet for reading or browsing. A device of this size inevitably loses out a little in the audio visual stakes, but the Mini is especially disappointing due to its lackluster screen. At 163 pixels per inch, the screen falls far short of modern capabilities, which is hard to forgive due to the price you are paying (a minimum of $329). Die hard Apple fans will buy it in their droves, but the Mini is not an objectively good choice for those not committed to an ecosystem.
Google Nexus 7
The Nexus 7 aims to unseat Apple through aggressive pricing and competitive features. It has succeeded; at $199 Google’s device offers a superior display and a more flexible ecosystem. The screen is a little smaller than the iPad Mini’s, which means that it’s a little harder to hold when reading, and it is also very slightly heavier. But are you really willing to pay 50% more for a bigger yet inferior screen in the Mini?
Amazon Fire HD
It would be better if there were 3 horses in the 7-inch tablet race, but sadly there aren’t. Amazon’s device has limited appeal for anyone who won’t receive discounts thanks to their Prime membership, or those who are heavily invested into Amazon’s e-reader ecosystem. The Fire HD is priced identically to the Nexus 7, yet is slower, thicker, heavier, and has a less vivid screen. Those who want to do more than read Kindle books should steer clear, as both Apple and Google are outperforming the retail giant’s latest offering overall.
Joe Waller is a freelance writer and total tech geek.