Kindle, Nook, Nexus and iPad Mini: Seven inch tablets explained
In the run up to Christmas (Yes, it’s coming), we’ve seen a slew of new, super cheap, super portable tablets hit the headlines. These aren’t iPad rivals: with seven inch screens, they’re about half the size and less than half the price. But between all the specs, boasts and brand names, it can be hard to know which is the one for you. Read on as we break down all the candidates for Christmas right here.
Amazon Kindle Fire HD
Meant for: Couch potatoes and bookworms, not appaholics
Killer feature: Kindle cloud service
The Kindle Fire HD is a seven inch tablet that’s powered by Android at its core, but make no mistake, this is an Amazon tablet, not an Android tablet. The company has stripped out all of Google’s apps from the operating system: maps are powered by Nokia, and apps come from Amazon’s Appstore.
Hardware wise it’s nothing special: its 1280×800 display is par for the course these days, and the first reviewers in the US (A British version is not available yet) have complained that it’s not very spritely. But this is digital shopping trolley as much as a tablet: if you’re going to use Amazon for reading books and magazines with its Kindle apps, and download and rent movies, everything is just a finger tap away. There are even smart additions to Android, including X-Ray, which brings up need to know information about the film you’re watching.
Price: £159 (8GB), £189 (16GB)
Meant for: Families
Killer feature: Stunning screen
Truth be told, the Nook HD from bookseller Barnes & Noble has an ecosystem much like Amazon’s: selected Android apps from Barnes & Noble’s own store (But not all 600,000 available on Google Play), along with movies and books.
No, the Nook HD, which goes on sale in November, stands out for its raw power. Forget that you only get 8GB of storage with the cheapest Nook HD: you can add in your own memory for next to nothing. The 1440×900 screen is seriously sharp, and makes videos look like a dream – you can also pipe them out to a big TV with an adaptor.
The Nook HD runs modified Android much like the Kindle Fire HD, but packs some clever features for families: multiple accounts with parental controls, and even an app to let you record your narration of children’s books for your kids.
Google Nexus 7
Meant for: Android fans
Killer feature: Cutting edge software
The Google Nexus 7, made by Asus, is the one you want if you’re a serious tech fiend. Although a few months older, with slightly slower hardware, it absolutely flies. That’s because it’s running Google’s purified Android 4.1 operating system, with no tweaks or tarnishes – and you can bet it’ll be first in line for the next Android update too. It’s beautiful, powerful and easy to use.
And since it has access to the full Google Play store (with more than 600,000 apps) as well as Google Maps and Gmail, there’s little it can’t do the Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD can – especially since you can download Kindle and Nook apps on Google Play. What it’s missing: that tight Amazon integration, the same extensive parental controls of the Nook, and the HDMI out option for piping video to your TV through a cable.
Meant for: ???
Killer feature: ???
There’s a great big elephant in the room: or rather, a seven inch one. Apple is strongly rumoured to be launching an iPad Mini as soon as next month, with production already underway to stockpile enough for launch. We don’t know what new features or specs it might pack, but knowing Apple, you can expect iTunes, seamless AirPlay media streaming all the apps on the App Store, plus beautiful design. We’d be willing to bet that you’ll have to pay a bit more for the luxury, as is always the case with Apple; but only so much that you’ll stop and force yourself to give it a very serious think.
Take a look back at some of our favourite tablets
Which one would you go with now? iPad Mini, Kindle Fire HD, Nook HD or Nexus 7? Share your thoughts in the comments below.