iPad, Nexus, Kindle, Others: Tablet Holiday Shopping Guide

 
 
By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2012-11-29
 
 
 

Apple iPad With Retina Display

Apple stepped on the toes of some fans when it introduced a fourth-generation iPad just six months after its third-generation model. But what buyers get now is a new new iPad with a Retina display, Apple's incredibly fast A6X processor, an improved front-facing camera, better battery life and the Apple Lighting port.

Apple iPad With Retina Display

Apple iPad With Retina Display

Measures: 7.31 by 0.37 inches; Weighs: 1.44 pounds Display: 9.7 inches, 2048-by-1536; Cameras: Front and back; Pricing: WiFi-only models in 16, 32 and 64GB models sell for $499, $599 and $699. With cellular connectivity, enabling the iPad to access the LTE networks of Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint, pricing jumps to $629, $729 and $829.

Apple iPad With Retina Display

Apple iPad Mini

The bad news is that Apple gave the wonderfully thin and light and fast iPad Mini the same resolution as the iPad 2, which is a decided step down from its Retina display. But the good news is that Apple gave the Mini the resolution of the iPad 2, enabling it to benefit from Apple's full catalogue of existing tablet apps, plus a half million apps designed for the iPhone. In this regard, the Mini blows away its 7-inch competitors.

Apple iPad Mini

Apple iPad Mini

Measures: 7.87 by 5.3 by 0.28 inches; Weighs: 0.68 pounds; Display: 7.9 inches, 1,024-by-768; Cameras: Front and back; Pricing: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB WiFi-only options retail for $329, $429 and $529, respectively. With WiFi and Cellular connectivity, prices hop to $459, $559 and $659. It's supported by AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless.

Apple iPad Mini

Google Nexus 7

Google partnered with Asus to create its first tablet, the Android-running Nexus 7. Reviewers have praised its combination of a rich display, long battery life and friendly pricing—which since its introduction has gotten even better, with Google making its starting offer a 16GB model for $199.

Google Nexus 7

Google Nexus 7

Measures: 7.8 by 4.7 by 0.4 inches; Weighs: 12 ounces Display: 7 inches, 1280-by-800; Cameras: Front-facing; Pricing: Google nixed an 8GB model and now offers a 16GB Nexus 7 with WiFi only for $199, as well as a 32GB model for $249 or a 32GB with HSPA+ support from AT&T or T-Mobile for $299.

Google Nexus 7

Google Nexus 10

Made in partnership with Samsung, the Nexus 10 offers both more display quantity and quality than its forbearer. The resolution of its 10.1 inch display is on par with that of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The Nexus 10 also has a dual-core processor (while many rivals have quad-cores), but reviewers have found it to be impressively quick.

Google Nexus 10

Google Nexus 10

Display: 10.06 inches. 2560-by-1600; Measures: 10.4 by 7 by 0.35 inches; Weighs: 21.3 ounces; Cameras: Front and rear; Pricing: 16GB for $399, 32GB for $499.

Google Nexus 10

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Tablets have been about consumption, but the Galaxy Note 10.1, Samsung officials said at the device's unveiling, is about creation. The tablet comes with a built-in S Pen—a stylus, but smarter—that, with specially designed apps, enables a user to interact with the tablet in a more sophisticated way than a just finger would allow.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Measures: 10.3 by 7.1 by 0.4 inches; Weighs: 21.1 ounces; Display: 10.1 inches, 1280-by-800; Cameras: Front and back; Pricing: $449.99 for the 16GB model, $499 for the 32GB.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Microsoft Surface RT

Microsoft's answer to Apple's iPad is a tablet with a teen palette but a business work ethic. It features a kickstand and can be paired with one of two types of keyboards that magnetically and forcefully attach. The current Surface runs Windows RT, which means only Windows 8 apps are allowed. Microsoft will release a second, pricier Surface in early 2013 that will accommodate old and new Microsoft apps.

Microsoft Surface RT

Microsoft Surface

Measures: 10.81 by 6.77 by 0.37 inches; Weighs: 1.5 pounds; Display: 10.6 inches, 1366-by-768; Cameras: Front and back; Price: With a Touch cover keyboard 32GB and 64GB models are $599 and $699, respectively. A 32GB model without a cover can be had for $499.

Microsoft Surface

Asus Transformer Pad TF300TL

Asus' latest Transformer Pad is a high-end Android tablet in the vein of the Surface: It was designed with an optional keyboard that users are more like to do with than without. AT&T is selling this 16GB version of the LTE-enabled Transformer Pad for $449.

Asus Transformer Pad TF300TL

Asus Transformer Pad TF300TL

Measures: 10.4 by 0.4 by 7.1 inches; Weighs: 19.3 ounces; Display: 10.1 inches, 1280-by-800; Cameras: Front and back; Price: Comes in 16GB and 32GB options, starting at $449 at AT&T; the optional dock is an extra $149. Asus includes 8GB of free online storage.

Asus Transformer Pad TF300TL

Asus VivoTab RT

AT&T will also exclusively offer the VivoTab RT, a super-thin, Windows RT–running, 10-inch, LTE-enabled tablet that, like the Transformer, can be paired with a laptop-like keyboard. Both Asus tablets also feature quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processors that promise both gamers and business users serious performance.

Asus VivoTab RT

Asus VivoTab RT

Measures: 11.58 by 7.43 by 0.33 inches; Weighs: 1.2 pounds; Display: 10.1-inch Super IPS+ with a resolution of 1366-by-768; Cameras: Front and back; Price: After AT&T holiday promotions, which include $100 off and a free Mobile Dock, the VivoTab will sell for $499.99. With the purchase of a Windows Phone smartphone, AT&T will take off another $100.

Asus VivoTab RT

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

The Kindle Fire, with its brilliant display and $199 price tag, is Amazon's best-selling device worldwide and a compelling option for those whose needs are primarily media consumption. The New York Times, while insisting it's a good tablet, called it a bit more soot than fire. On Nov. 15, Amazon introduced an 8.9-inch version that starts at $299.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Measures: 7.6 by 5.39 by 0.41 inches; Weighs: 13.9 ounces; Display: 7 inches, 1280-by-800; Camera: Front-facing only; Price: Starts at $199, though users who would rather not see ads when the device is in Sleep mode will have to pay $15 more.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Rocket Fuel