Choosing a Tablet

nexus 7 fhd_
Updated 7/26/2013: Nexus 7 FHD now compared!

Choosing a tablet can be a complicated task these days. With so many options to choose from it can be frustrating trying to figure out what makes each different. In choosing one for myself I found most information online lacking when it came to everything in one place, so I decided to put something together to make choosing a tablet that is right for you, fairly simple.

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I’ll be going over the three leading tablets in the 7” size, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD,Barnes and Noble Nook HD and the Google Nexus 7 FHD. (In case you are wondering, the FHD in the Nexus 7 stands for Full High Definition) These are the most portable, lightweight, and reliable on the market. A 7” tablet is easy to fit in a woman’s purse, for men to place in some pockets, and hang onto while keeping hold of other important items. The various 9.8” and above tablet sizes out there work well for some business use, but I find them cumbersome to keep with you most of the time and too heavy for lengthy one-handed use. The information provided here is both basic (for those wishing to find out what this newer technology is all about) and partially advanced. I have not reviewed the iPad mini due to its cost of at least 50% higher than those here and it doesn’t really out-perform them.

It’s not a question of which tablet is better. It’s more a question of which is better for you.

tablet-beach

The Basics: What is a tablet?


Ever dream of doing your job like the man in the photo above? A tablet can help you make that dream a reality. Whether its updating spreadsheets quickly and syncing them automatically back at the office,  catching up with e-mails,  video conferencing, or lazying the day away while solving a mystery with your favorite author. Listen to the waves and catch up with your favorite TV shows or recent blockbuster movie . A tablet computer is so portable and lightweight, you can take it just about anywhere.  Most tablet computers nowadays have the near full-featured capabilities of a desktop PC.  There really is something for everyone with tablets.


How to use this guide:

I’ll list specific features and note how each tablet compares with some additional information thrown in based on my observations and research. Take a look at the various notes related to each feature based upon what you are looking for in the device. At the end I’ll sum up the group and provide suggestions.

 NexusFireNook-reduced

Display:

  • Kindle Fire HD
    • 1280×800 display with polarizing filter and anti-glare technology for rich color and deep contrast from any viewing angle.
  • Nexus 7 FHD
    • 1920×1200 display. A significant improvement over last year’s display that topped out at 1280×800. This pretty much rivals the iPad mini and then some. The resolution amounts to 323 pixels for every square inch of screen space.
  • Nook HD
    • 1440×900 display. Slightly higher resolution screen than both the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7. Text will be somewhat sharper and PCmag noted the screen was  noticeably less reflective with more contrast as well.

 Kindle Fire Wifi

Power and Storage:

  • Kindle Fire HD
    • 1.2 Ghz dual-core processor with Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core for fast and fluid performance with up to 32GB of storage available.
  • Nexus 7 FHD
    • The Nexus 7 is made by ASUS and packs a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon™ S4 Pro processor and 2GB of RAM. High-performance rendering ensures 3D graphics are smooth and dynamic. It’s available in a 16GB and 32GB version.
  •  Nook HD
    • TI OMAP 4470 processor at 1.3 GHz, which may give it a slight edge over both the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7. Up to 16GB on on-board storage is available. There is a micro-sd card slot accepting up to 64GB of additional storage.

How much storage do you need? Well, the more the better actually. With a tablet you need space for all the apps, your music, and especially any of your homemade video. Video can take up quite a bit of space, especially if it’s in HD. I suggest nothing less than 16GB of storage. 32GB is better, but that comes with additional cost. As for power, each of these will provide enough power for virtually all currently available apps.


  • Battery life:

    • Kindle Fire HD
      • Amazon claims 11 hours of reading, surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music. PCmag tests resulted in 7 hours of video playback with the screen at full brightness.
    •  Nexus 7 FHD
      • Up to 9 hours of HD video playback and 10 hours of web browsing or e-reading. On paper the battery life appears less than the Kindle Fire HD, however with Android’s significant offerings of Standby settings, over a day’s use you may get more life out of it. Our testing is ongoing for this feature.
    • Nook HD
      • Up to 9 hours of video claimed by Barnes and Noble. PCmag tests resulted in 5 hours 16 minutes of video playback with the screen at full brightness, noticeably shorter than the 7 hours they got with the Kindle Fire HD.


    Operating System/User Interface:

    • Kindle Fire HD
      • Runs an altered version of Android 4.0 simplifying Google’s interface into their own environment.
    • Nexus 7 FHD
      • Comes with Android 4.3 (latest version of Jelly Bean), the latest version of the world’s most popular mobile platform.
    • Nook HD
      • Runs a pared-down version of Android 4.0. You select a user profile after turning on. See further below for my notes on this feature.

  • Camera:

    (note: none of these models feature a rear camera to keep the weight down)

    • Kindle Fire HD
      • 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera.
    • Nexus 7 FHD
      • 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera and a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera is new with this model.
    • Nook HD
      • None

    Kindle Fire HD held

    Size and Weight:

    • Kindle Fire HD
      • 7.6”x5.4”x0.4” thick and 13.9 ounces.
    • Nexus 7 FHD
      • 7.9”x4.5”x0.30” thick and 11.2 ounces. A bit thinner and lighter than the previous model.
    • Nook HD
      • 7.65”x5”x0.43” thick and 11.1 ounces.

     

    Connections and Ports:

    • Kindle Fire HD
      • Micro-HDMI out to TV – Micro-USB to computer – Headphone jack
    •  Nexus 7 FHD
      • Micro-USB to computer – Headphone jack – Slimport in which an adapter can be used to output to HDMI to your TV.
    • Nook HD
      • 30-pin port to computer via USB – Headphone jack

     

     Sound:

    • Kindle Fire HD
      • Dolby audio and dual-driver stereo speakers for immersive, virtual surround sound.
    • Nexus 7 FHD
      • Google has added stereo and surround sound to this newly updated model powered by Fraunhofer3 (the MP3 inventors)
    • Nook HD
      • Stereo speakers.


    Specific Features:

    It’s obvious that each device has access to Apps, TV shows, Movies, Music and Books, so I’m just going to go into the unique aspects as promoted by the manufacturers here.

    • Kindle Fire HD,
      • Free unlimited cloud storage for all your Amazon content.
      • Kindle FreeTime – a free, personalized tablet experience just for kids. Set daily screen limits, and give access to appropriate content for each child.
      • Prime Instant Video – unlimited, instant streaming of thousands of popular movies and TV shows. For about $80 per year you get this and free 2-day shipping on most items.
      • Kindle Owners’ Lending Library – Kindle owners can choose from more than 270,000 books to borrow for free with no due dates, including over 100 current and former New York Times best sellers.
    • Google Nexus 7 FHD
      • Google Now brings you just the right information at just the right time. It shows you how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, or when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform. You’ll see events and concerts nearby, reminders about hotel and flight reservations, and even nearby attractions and popular photo-ops while traveling.
      • GPS is built-in. Combine with Google Maps and you have one of the best navigation systems available.
    • Nook HD
      • Create up to 6 NOOK Profiles – one for every member of the family. Transform it into your own personalized device and build a private library full of books, movies, apps & more.
      • As an added plus, when you are in a Barnes and Noble store with wifi, you can read just about any book in full for one-hour. A nice feature if you frequent their store’s café!
      • Your NOOK Today for a daily selection of quick reads, cool apps, new titles and even a weather forecast.

    Conclusion:


    As you have probably already noticed, all three tablets are similar, but there are a few things that set each one apart from the others that you can use to determine which tablet is right for you. See if any of the following fits for you…

    If a front-facing camera for video phone calls is something you want then the Nook HD may not be the tablet for you. But if you frequent Barnes and Noble stores and find yourself reading their books, the free 1-hour in-store reading of any book they offer is a nice addition. The amazing clear screen is a big plus though. The battery life in testing has proven to fall short however.

    If you have a large Amazon library of books, music, TV shows and movies, or love to shop with Amazon in general, the Kindle Fire HD may be for you. Amazon Prime members especially will benefit. Yes, their interface is a customized version of Android, but it is also simplified making it much easier to use for many people in the real world. Its Dolby audio speakers provide for a nice viewing and listening experience with more than one person viewing. Kindle Free Time can be useful for those wishing to share a tablet with their children. These features, among other may be the reason it’s the best selling item on Amazon’s site.


    Our recommendation is the Nexus 7 FHD. The latest tablet from Google has not only the full Android experience but an amazing Full High Definition display combined with great battery life along with the new dual (front/rear)c cameras. It’s processor provides for the smoothest user interface we’ve encountered on a tablet of this size.

    If after reading through this you still have questions before deciding which to purchase, feel free to contact me. Otherwise, links are provided below from recommended and trusted sellers. This page will be updated as often as the tablets are updated and/or I find more useful information so please subscribe in the upper right sidebar and I’ll notify you when there is new information helping you make your decision.

While you’re looking at these amazing products why not check out our new Super Products page for the latest recommended amazing value item.

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Where to buy:

  • You can buy the Kindle Fire HD on Amazon. With their free 2-day shipping it makes a great deal! Click here to view on Amazon. If you’d like a more detailed review before buying, go here.

 

  • nexus 7 fhd_You can buy the Google Nexus 7 FHD 16GB at Amazon. They offer the best price and have free shipping on the device. (Or get free 1-2 day shipping as noted earlier) Click here to view on Amazon. 32GB model can be found here.

 

Nook HD

  • You can buy the Nook HD at Barnes and Noble’s web site. They have recently dropped the price $50! And typically have free shipping on the device. Click here to view.

 

If you enjoyed this alternative style review, please take a look at our other reviews here. And our new Super Product page for the most recent recommended products we love.

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2 thoughts on “Choosing a Tablet

  1. Thanks for all the information. My son is in the Air Force and wanted the nexus7. After reading all the reviews I was very nervous. Your review helped me decide to move forward with my purchase

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