Photo: Martin Hajek
Apple’s iPad Mini—a smaller version of the iPad with a 7.85-inch screen—is expected to be announced tomorrow at an event Tuesday at the company’s Cupertino, Calif. campus.As tech improves, all tablets are heading towards being lighter, thinner, and faster.
But smaller? The iPad has pretty much defined the tablet category for consumers. So most aren’t sure what to make of these “tweeners”—smaller tablets more geared around media consumption than the full-featured mobile-computing experience of an iPad.
But there are a lot of alternatives—and Apple could, paradoxically, boost its rivals’ prospects by making people aware that there’s more than one size for tablets.
Google's Nexus 7 is currently the king of the miniature tablets. Some would even say the Nexus 7 is the best budget Android tablet around.
Google dictated the Nexus 7's software and hardware specs, making the device ultraportable and lightning-fast. The Nexus 7 also uses very little power so you can go longer on a single charge.
Nexus 7 specs include:
- A 7-inch 1280x800 display
- quad-core Tegra 3 processor
- 1GB of RAM
- Micro-USB port
- 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera
- NFC, Android Beam, making it easy to share photos and contacts with other devices
- 10 hours of Web browsing/9 hours of HD video playback
The Nexus 7 is one of the best tablets around. Best of all, it takes advantage of Google's latest mobile operating system. And its form factor makes it perfect for travel or a commute.
The Kindle Fire is perfect for the user who is a fan of Amazon and purchases digital books from the service.
- 1280x800 HD display
- Dolby audio stereo speakers
- 1.2 Ghz dual-core processor with 3D graphics
- dual-band, dual-antenna WI-Fi
- free Skype video calls
- free unlimited cloud storage
- over 11 hours of reading, surfing the Web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music.
- 16GB internal storage
The Kindle Fire HD takes advantage of a custom-built Android operating system.Check out our full review of the Kindle Fire HD.
Users who want Amazon technology but but want to spend less than $199 can opt for Amazon's regular Kindle Fire. The non-HD version is very portable. It's packed with the same dual-core processor as the newer Kindle Fire HD, making it 40% faster than the first Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire also uses a custom-built Android operating system.
The Fire's specs include:
- A 7-inch 1024x600 resolution screen
- 8GB of flash memory
- Up to 9 hours of reading, surfing the Web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music.
- dual-core custom Texas Instruments processor
- Amazon's Silk Web browser
Nook Media, a joint venture of Barnes & Noble and Microsoft, has come out with the new Nook HD. It's another light, thin, and very portable option. The Nook HD is noticeably thinner than the Kindle Fire HD, which makes it easier to hold.
One Nook feature are particularly good for families: Users have the freedom to create up to six different Nook profiles that personalise the device for specific users.
In addition, Nook is finally adding a video store to its devices. This new service makes it easier to browse titles in its book and magazine stores too.
The Nook runs a custom version of Android and has:
- 10.5 hours of use on a single charge
- 1440 x 900 HD display
- up to 10.5 hours of reading, and 9 hours of video
- expandable MicroSD card slot, which means the tablet can hold up to 64GB of space
Available: November 1
The 9-inch Nook is 20% lighter than the iPad 3. The bigger Nook weighs in at just 515 grams. It takes advantage of the same 1.5 GHz dual-core OMAP 4470 processor that is in the 7-inch version.
Nook recently introduced a catalogue feature to debut with the Nook HD. A hundred vendors have signed up to create digital catalogues for users including Pottery Barn and J. Crew.
Something that we found really interesting was the Scrapbook feature, which lets you rip out a page using a two-fingered swipe and save it for later.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 is an oldie but goody.
Released earlier this year, the Galaxy Tab's specs are still up to par:
- The multitouch screen uses a 1024x600 resolution
- Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
- 1GHz dual-core processor with 1 GB of RAM
- 8GB of flash memory
- 3-megapixel rear camera
- expandable memory (add up to 32GB)
Samsung's upcoming Galaxy Note 2 is known as a 'phablet'--an awkwardly names hybrid between a phone and a tablet.
The Note 2's huge screen is a whopping 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1280x720. Despite having a large screen, the Note 2 is only 9 mm thick.
Because this device is brand-new, it has all the latest features, including:
- 4G LTE data
- 1.6GHz quad-core processor
- Android 4.1 Jellybean
- A special stylus called the S-pen, which adds function and makes it easy to write in your own handwriting
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 1.9-megapixel front facing camera and an 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus
- accelerometer, RGB light, digital compass, proximity sensor, gyroscope, barometer
Acer recently revealed its latest Android tablet, the Iconia A110. This new tablet is specifically aimed to compete with Google's Nexus 7.
The 7-inch tablet weighs in at 0.86 pounds but the specs aren't quite on par with Google's device:
- 1024x600 resolution
- 2-megapixel front facing webcam
- Tegra 3 quad-core processor
- Android 4.1 Jellybean
- 8GB of internal storage with a MicroSD slot that provides up to 32GB of storage
- Micro-HDMI output, making it easy to connect to a TV
- Bluetooth 3.0
- 7.5 hours of battery life
- 1GB of memory
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