Tablet deathmatch: New Nexus 7 vs. iPad Mini vs. Kindle Fire HD
Its 10-ounce weight is 2 ounces less than the iPad Mini and 4 ounces less than the Kindle Fire HD. In other words, it's the lightweight of the group, at least when it comes to actual mass. All in all, the Nexus 7 has good hardware that will meet many users' needs.
Kindle Fire HD. The display quality of the Amazon media tablet is adequate, though crisper and clearer than the Nexus 7's even with the muddiness created by the Kindle's yellowish color balance. But the Kindle Fire HD's screen is not nearly as good as the iPad Mini's screen, despite the fact that it has a higher pixel density (216 ppi versus the iPad Mini's 163 ppi).
Although it claims fast, dual-radio Wi-Fi, I found the Kindle Fire HD was the slowest of the three media tablets for Wi-Fi access, with occasional stuttering when playing streamed videos that I didn't experience on the iPad Mini or Nexus 7. It was also poky when opening media files and suffered from stutter occasionally during playback of stored movies.
You get a MiniHDMI connector for video-out, as well as a MicroUSB connector for charging and syncing. There's also a front-facing camera for video chats, but no rear camera for taking pictures. There's no SD card or other expansion capability, and it uses the older, power-hungry Bluetooth 3.0 technology. It's clear that the Kindle Fire HD's low price comes from hardware compromises.
Beware the prices you see on the Amazon website for the Kindle Fire. Once you pay to remove the obnoxious ads and pay for the power charger block that isn't included as it should be (though it comes with a USB cable, so you can charge it from an existing 10W power block), the 16GB model costs $224 and the 32GB model costs $274.
The hardware winner. Apple has the best hardware -- no question. But you'll pay for it: For the Wi-Fi model, my recommended configuration of 32GB costs $429, versus $274 for the 32GB Kindle Fire HD and $269 for the 32GB Nexus 7. The 32GB iPad Mini cellular model costs $569, versus $349 for the forthcoming 32GB cellular Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 is a pretty close second choice in terms of hardware.
The Nexus 7 has some nice attributes, especially its ability to run almost anything a full-size Android tablet can run, and its decent Web browser. The new model has addressed most of the hardware flaws in the original model, from its sluggish processor to its lack of HDMI support. The Kindle Fire HD is clearly the laggard, with hardware that was barely adequate a year ago. A refresh is planned for this fall, so if you want a Kindle Fire so that you can join the Amazon ecosystem, wait until that new version comes out.
The iPad Mini is the winner
It should be clear by now that the iPad Mini is the best tablet because it does much more and at a much higher level of quality than the competition. The iPad Mini lives in a higher-class world than the other media tablets, and you're either willing to pay to be in that world or you're not.
For those who don't need all that or aren't willing to pay for it, get a Nexus 7 instead. You'll get a good tablet running an operating system that many people like. Just don't get a Kindle Fire HD.
This story, "Review: New Nexus 7 takes on iPad Mini and Kindle Fire HD," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.
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