Wednesday, October 24, 2012

CNET Reviews iPad Atlas iPad Mini vs. Google Nexus 7 vs. Amazon ... iPad Mini vs. Google Nexus 7 vs. Amazon Kindle Fire HD

As the days march on after the iPad Mini's announcement, we'll continue to update this story with further impressions, hands-on details, and results from our iPad Mini rated review.

Apple iPad MiniGoogle Nexus 7Kindle Fire HD
Operating systemiOS 6Android 4.1Custom Android OS
PriceWi-Fi: $329 (16GB), $429 (32GB), $529 (64GB). Cellular: $459 (16GB), $559 (32GB), $659 (64GB).$199 (8GB), $249 (16GB)$199 (16BG), $249 (32GB)
Release dateNovember 2, 2012, for Wi-Fi; cellular 2 weeks laterJuly 13, 2012September 14, 2012
Display7.9-inch IPS, 1,024x768 pixels (163 ppi)7-inch IPS, 1,280x800 pixels (216 ppi)7-inch IPS, 1,280x800 pixels (216 ppi)*
Size7.9 x 5.3 x 0.28 inches7.8 x 4.7 x 0.41 inches7.4 x 4.7 x 0.45 inches
Weight0.68 lbs/308 grams (0.69 for cellular)0.75 lbs/340 grams0.88 lbs/400 grams
ProcessorDual-core A5 processorQuad-core Nvidia Tegra 31.2GHz dual-core TI OMAP4460
Memory16GB, 32GB, or 64GB8GB or 16GB; 1GB RAM16GB or 32GB; 1GB RAM
Camera5-megapixel rear-facing, 1080p HD video; 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, 720 HD video1.2-megapixel front-facing720p "Web chat" front-facing
Battery"16.3-watt-hour"; 10 hours battery life (rated)4,325 mAh; 10.1 hours video battery life (tested)4,400 mAh; 5.1 hours video battery life (tested)
Extras4G LTE versions availableTegra gamesWhispersync, X-Ray, Amazon Prime
PortsLightning connectorMicro-USBMicro-HDMI, Micro-USB
ColorBlack, whiteBlackDark gray

* 8.9-inch version also available with a 1,920×1,200-pixel resolution.

Who wins?
At this point, it's clearly too soon to tell, but keep in mind that the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD already target slightly different audiences from the beginning. The former lures gamers, multimedia enthusiasts, and Android fans looking for the "pure" Jelly Bean experience. The Fire HD is a steal for Amazon Prime members looking to maximize their Amazon membership while keeping tablet costs low, memory high, and the screen mighty.
So where does the iPad Mini stand? Certainly existing Apple fans will gravitate toward it, but there's a question mark over how good the Mini actually is. Yes, it's lighter and thinner than the competition, but the screen resolution lacks Apple's crystal clarity, and the battery life is on-par with rivals, but won't surpass it.
Beyond that, the iPad Mini's A5 dual-core processor could easily fall to the Nexus 7's quad-core CPU. Of course, we don't know how performance stacks up without testing the tablets in-house.
Offering two colors, three capacities, and a cellular option with 4G LTE connectivity will certainly help flood the market with iPad Minis, especially with the tablet presumably hooking into Verizon and AT&T's shared data plans -- it's coming to AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Still, I'll agree with CNET editor Molly Wood when she observed that, "They missed the price point that would have crushed the competition."
As far as I'm concerned, Apple may have the edge when it comes to product lore and sheer ubiquity, but for those deliberately seeking an affordable, portable in-between device, we're looking at a much more level playing field for smaller-size slates -- and an open door for future Android and Windows 8 tablets.