Tablet PC Buying Guide 2012

iPad Mini Vs Google Nexus Vs Kindle Fire HD

By Chris Messenger | Published 05/12/2012

 

Science fiction writer and all-round genius Phillip K. Dick once wrote, “to fight the empire is to be infected by its derangement. Whoever defeats a segment of the empire becomes the empire” If I had a direct line to Apple CEO Tim Cook, I’d probably send him a copy of ‘Valis’ (the book from which the above quote originates). After years spent toiling in relative obscurity (and by obscurity I mean the ‘only anoraks need apply’ stigma that has dogged Apple Inc for decades), Apple are now well on their way to becoming the dominant force in the computer industry, the ‘new Microsoft’ if you will.

 

Apple no longer seems content with putting out cool, high spec lifestyle peripherals for the connoisseur, in fact, they seem to have an M.O more akin to the “one in every home” mentality of early television companies. To this end, they’ve scaled down their iPad, jettisoned the much vaunted ‘retina display’ (as well as a few other popular features) and taken aim at cheaper, high-end 7” tablets. So, as Techradar’s Gary Marshall put it, Apple began “moving its tanks onto their lawns”. It’s a strategy right out of Bill gates’ playbook.

 

But hey, that’s how it goes, right?

 

When Google started to produce gadgets and technology (in tandem with other companies) a few years back, few would have foreseen the arrival of the Google Nexus 7. The Nexus, (designed alongside computer manufacturers Asus) makes use of Google’s major acquisition of the 21st century so far (no, not Youtube), the Android OS, with aplomb, as well as being an affordable and high spec device.

 

Like a lot of developers, Google exploited the veritable ‘Microsoft vacuum’ in the tablet PC marketplace, leaving Apple as their single biggest competitor, (at least until we get some hindsight on the Microsoft Surface’s impact).


Another high rolling website to enter the fracas was Amazon.com. Not content with shipping books, DVDs and music all over the world, the site launched the Kindle eReader in late 2007 to great acclaim. The Kindle was so popular, in fact, that every tablet PC manufacturer incorporated its basic software into their own devices. This left the developers of the Kindle with a choice: either walk quietly into the sunset, or develop their own tablet. That’s how the Kindle Fire came to be. Despite being a good little runner, with a reasonable Internet connection and a decent memory, the Fire itself felt like a hybrid, a device caught in mid-mutation. So, this year the tech bods at Amazon unleashed the Kindle Fire HD, a tablet PC in every sense of the word, combining excellent stats, innovative tech and an affordable price tag.

 

So the Google Nexus and the Kindle Fire HD were battling it out for pole position, (with more plaudits generally going to the Nexus) when all of a sudden, in shoots the iPad mini, or, to put it another way, a chance for those who can’t afford an iPad (which, sadly, is most of us) to get their hands on one. In my mind, I imagine it to be a bit like the climactic scene in ‘The Mummy Returns’, when O’Connell and Imhotep are fighting it out in the temple, only to be attacked themselves by The Scorpion King. Or something.

 

Put simply, the iPad wipes the floor with both of them. It runs quickly (using the same processor as the iPad 3) has a really nice screen (although not quite a Retina display, it must be said) and comes with up to 64GB memory. The poor suckers never stood a chance.

 

However, before Apple get too smug about their assured victory, let us be aware that the iPad Mini is very, very pricey. Although a 18GB Mini will cost £296, a 32GB Nexus will cost just £228 and, even better, a Fire HD of the same size will only set you back £199. The iPad Mini, at full power, (that’s 64 GB) will set you back nearly £500. Wow.

 

However, it’s always been the same with Apple. Where once you paid for a specialist product, now you shell out for a premium quality lifestyle peripheral. It almost makes you miss Microsoft. Almost. So, to sum up: Kindle or Nexus saves you money and delivers a good product, but iPad Mini costs you money but delivers a great product. The choice, as they say, is yours.

 

Amazon Kindle Fire HD (Around £159)

Aside from the bespoke user interface problems, the Kindle Fire generally ran well. The Internet could be a bit hit and miss, but was far better than a lot of others in its particular price range at the time.

 

The Kindle Fire was portable and reasonably lightweight (though not the lightest tablet out there) and had an outer casing that felt sturdy and well crafted. Apart from that, there was no individual function (besides the eReader) that blew anyone away.

 

Still, despite any minor headaches, the Kindle Fire was a respectable first stab at creating a tablet PC. It was a well thought out and reliable tablet, with a smart design and a sense of style that set it apart from its peers, even if not much else did.

 

>> Read our review of the Amazon Kindle Fire HD Tablet PC

>> Check latest prices

kindle fire hd

 

Apple iPad Mini (£269)

So, if the iPad is going up against the 7" inch tablets, it has a problem. Or, to put it another way: two types of people buy 7" tablets, those who prefer a smaller device (for whatever reason) and those who are looking to save money. The second group ought to just look away now.

 

Although the 16GB model is £269 (which isn't bad), the 64GB model will set you back to the tune of £482. That's a lot of lolly.

 

The smallest version isn't a million miles away from the Google Nexus in terms of price, but you can still get a 32GB Nexus for just £228. Then there's the Kindle Fire HD, retailing at £199 for the 32GB version.

 

>> Read our review of the Apple iPad Mini Tablet PC

>> Check latest prices

Apple iPad Mini

 

Google Nexus 7 (Around £159)

The Nexus is fresh, exciting and innovative.


This is possibly the perfect tablet. Absolutely everything on this machine lived up to its promise. It is smooth, sexy and bang up to date. The Nexus has a ridiculously long battery life and outperforms a slew of other tablets in terms of processing speed, battery life and general vitality.

 

The Nexus 7 employs very high standards, both inside and out, but sticks to a modest price tag, which is totally refreshing. Whilst it isn't the cheapest model on this list, the Google Nexus does represent the best value for money by far.

 

>> Read our review of the Google Nexus 7 Tablet PC

>> Check latest prices

Google Nexus 7

 

 

 

 

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Tags: tablet pc, cheap tablet pc uk, tablet review, iPad Mini Vs Google Nexus Vs Kindle Fire HD

 

 

 

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