Smartphones are great telephones, play amazing video and can do a bit of email but, if you want to start typing more than a few strokes or visit websites, they’re just too small. Some of the best tablets, like the 10-inch iPad, can almost replace a computer but they’re too big to carry everywhere. The 7-inch tablets are a handy compromise. They fit into a purse or jacket pocket and are still big enough for typing longer emails or looking at non-mobile websites.
Google’s Nexus 7 was the first small tablet to achieve broad popularity and remains one of the best tablets. Dozens of manufacturers have crowded into the field and Amazon features a huge number of pages dedicated to their many models.
There are a few tablets that stand out as having superior design, performance and value. The best tablets need a high quality screen, a good processor, powerful apps and great features.
Google Nexus 7
The ASUS-built and Google-designed tablet is a low-cost device including all the basic tablet features, but delivering above-average performance running on Android and Google apps. With a 1280×800 pixel screen, it has a crisp display that is sharper than that of most other 7-inch tablets.
It is available with 16 and 32 GB internal storage and runs on a fast 1.2 GHz NVIDIA processor.
Originally available only with WiFi, 3G connectivity is now an option, as well. The front-facing camera is adequate for Skype and video, but there is no rear-facing camera.
Apple iPad Mini
Apple introduced the iPad mini when it became clear that 7-inch tablets represented a sizeable market and is offering one of the best tablets. Basically a small iPad, it has all the iPad features such as front and rear-facing cameras, lightning connector and Apple apps.
It runs on a older Apple A5 processor and has a lower-quality 1024×768 pixel screen rather than the retina display of the latest Apple products. The screen, at 7.9 inches, is wider than that of other small tablets and shows black bands at the top and bottom when playing movies.
It has both WiFi and 4G connectivity and features up to 64 GB internal storage, but is more expensive than competing tablets.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2
The basic device with WiFi only and 8 GB internal memory is inexpensive and provides good value with a 1024×600 pixel screen, front and rear facing cameras, a 1 GHz Intel processor, access to Google apps and a USB port.
The memory is expandable with a micro SD card and the tablet is available in a model with 4G connectivity with a 1.2 GHz processor.
Samsung delivers the complete Android experience with a full-featured tablet.
HTC EVO View
An older, higher-priced tablet with high performance hardware, the HTC EVO features a unique interface that lets you write notes on documents while using the standard Android operating system.
The 1.5 GHz Snapdragon processor, 32 GB internal removable memory, WiFi and 4G connectivity and high quality front- and rear-facing cameras deliver a superior experience.
Unfortunately, the screen is only 1024×600 pixels, but it still has some quality features.
Kindle Fire HD
The Kindle Fire is optimized for accessing Amazon content and delivers superior performance and features at an excellent price.
It has a high quality 1024×800 pixel display, above-average sound, 16 or 32 GB internal storage and comes with special Amazon bonuses and credits.
The basic version shows ads on the lock screen and Amazon charges you to eliminate the ads. The 1.2 GHz Texas Instruments processor delivers slightly sluggish performance and there is only a front-facing camera. Amazon offers extra apps for the Kindle, but not all Android apps are available. The Silk browser is customized and not as flexible as standard browsers.
Barnes & Noble Nook HD
The Nook has the best screen of any small tablet at 1440×900 pixels. It is designed for reading books and watching content, with a customized Barnes & Noble interface running over the standard Android operating system and a special Nook store with Nook apps.
All the Google Play Android apps can also be downloaded on the Nook. It’s the lightest tablet and it features a 1.3 GHz Texas Instrument processor, 8 or 16 GB internal memory expandable to 64 GB and WiFi connectivity. There is no camera or GPS.
So What Are the Best Tablets?
These best tablets all fulfill certain roles and your choice depends on what you are looking for. The Google Nexus tablet is probably the best value for an all-round Android tablet due to its low price, adequate performance and good design.
The Apple iPad Mini delivers the Apple experience, but at a higher price than other small tablets and at a lower performance level than the full-size iPad.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab and the HTC EVO tablets deliver excellent performance and have more features than the Google Nexus. They are your best choice if you need rear-facing cameras and 4G connectivity. The Kindle and Nook are designed for consuming Amazon and Barnes and Noble content and, if that’s your primary use, these are inexpensive tablets that fulfill this purpose extremely well.
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