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Things to Consider in Buying Tablet

As our need for on-demand technology that is portable, light-weight and versatile has increased, our interest in tablets has increased as well. Tablets are lightweight, powerful and have a wide variety of features. The question is, "which tablet should we buy?" There are hundreds from which to choose, all with different features and specifications. For the purposes of this article we will focus on three tablets that currently dominate the market. The Kindle Fire from Amazon, the iPad from the Apple ecosystem and the flagship Nexus 7 Android tablet from Google. This article will compare and contrast the key features.

The winner of this feature really comes down to personal preference. If you're looking for something more compact, then the Kindle Fire or Nexus 7 is the way to go. They both have seven-inch screens. If you're in need of a larger screen, then the iPad is for you. The iPad has a nine-inch screen.

Most of the tablets share similar basic features. They can all browse the web, play music, read books and run apps. The differences lie in areas that most people would consider minor. If you like to have a variety of apps, then the iPad is for you. The Apple store is home to more than 825,000 apps, most of which are compatible with iPad. With the Nexus 7, you have access to Android's app market called Google Play. While it is not as extensive as the Apple store, you will more than likely be able to find an app that does what you are looking for. In the case of the Kindle Fire, while it runs on an Android operating system, it does not have access to the Google Play store. Instead, the Kindle Fire has access to the Amazon web store. The Amazon web store doesn't offer as many choices as the other two, and there are many alternatives to Amazon. If you are tech savvy enough, you can install apps from the Google Play store and save them to your Kindle Fire, but it doesn't come without significant effort.

Web Browsing
If you're a fan of browsing the web on your tablet, then you should lean towards either the Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire. The iPad still does not fully support flash, which will hinder your web browsing experience.

When it comes to your tablet, a lot of what you will be doing will depend on having Internet access. Without it, you won't be able to use certain apps, download movies and music, and browse the web. The Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 come with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity that allows you to use your device to its full potential wherever there is wireless Internet available. What about when there isn't any Wi-Fi available? Well, that's where the iPad shines brighter than the rest. You are able to buy an iPad that is 3G and 4G capable, which gives you access to the Internet (for a monthly fee) whenever you want it.

At the end of the day, your choice between these tablets can easily boil down to dollars and cents. Both the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire base models start at $199, while the iPad starts at $499. That's a huge gap in price difference. If you're only going to use your tablet for everyday basic activities like browsing the web, then the iPad may not be for you. Much of the pricing difference comes from the difference in storage space. The base models of the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire offer 8 GBs of data space, while the iPad base model starts offers 16 GB of space. To even out the playing field a bit, you would be able to expand the Kindle Fire's storage space with the help of a portable hard drive. The 16 GB Nexus 7 is $249, which is still significantly less than the iPad.

The Bottom Line
When it comes down to making your choice, there is no concrete answer to which tablet you should buy. Not everyone can afford to shell out $500 for an iPad, but at the same time some people would rather avoid the cheaper route if it means ending up with something that does not meet their needs. To ensure that you choose the one that is best for you, compare and contrast the feature and prices. In addition, you may visit you local electronics store and try out each device before you commit to one.

Google Nexus 7 In-Depth Review

The Google Nexus 7 sports a smaller 7in screen than the new iPad and is costs significantly less, but can it steal sales away from Apple's juggernaut?

Google has announced its own-brand Nexus 7 tablet and we've managed to get some hands-on time with the much anticipated device.

The Nexus 7 is available to pre-order now with a release date of mid-July and a price starting at just £159. The tablet will be the first device to ship with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and is Google's first attempt at an own-brand tablet.

Google Nexus 7: Design

As the name suggests the tablet has a 7in screen as is therefore a small tablet. It's very comfortable in one hand, designed to be held in portrait mode predominantly. This is partly because it's really light at 340g and respectably thin at 10.5mm.

The front is one piece of glass surrounded by a silver frame and a textured rear cover which has a rubbery feel. The finish on the rear cover provides a good amount of grip and feels nice to the touch.

Physical buttons and ports are minimal with a power button and volume rocker on the right hand side/rear while a microUSB port and headphone jack reside on the bottom of the tablet.

Google Nexus 7: Build quality

Most tablets we've seen with a price similar to the Nexus 7's offer poor build quality. We found the build quality to be good but not flawless.

The device is made by Asus which makes good quality products but the Nexus 7 isn't quite up there with things like the Zenbook. One thing we noticed was a slight gap between the non-removable rear cover and frame as you can see in the picture below. This may have just been our particular sample, though.

The other problem we found was rippling on the screen at the top and bottom edges. This is something we saw on the HTC One X and happened when putting pressure on the display. We're not suggesting that everyone will be pushing the screen like it's one giant physical button but it is more worrying in terms of traveling with the Nexus 7 in a bag, for example.

These are both minor quibbles and overall the Nexus 7 is a well-built piece of kit, especially when you consider its price.

Google Nexus 7: Hardware

The Nexus 7 has a surprisingly good line-up of hardware for a tablet with a budget price tag. For starters it uses the same nVidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor found in many high-end tablets. This is backed up by a healthy 1GB of RAM.

The highlight for us is the 7in screen which uses an in-plane switching (IPS) panel and has a resolution of 1280 x 800. The display has excellent contrast, brightness and viewing angles.The level of detail is high thanks to the 1280 x 800 resolution giving a pixel density of 216ppi. This is higher than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) which costs more money.

Storage is limited at either 8GB or 16GB with the latter costing £199 compared to £159. Unfortunately a cost cutting measures mean there's no microSD for expansion. This is probably the biggest let down about the Nexus 7. Asus told us there is less focus on local storage with content stored in the cloud. However, the Nexus 7 doesn't have 3G capabilities.

There is 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi so you can tether the Nexus 7 to a smartphone for data on-the-go. Other connectivity includes Bluetooth, GPS and a near-field communications (NFC) chip.

In an attempt to save costs there's no rear facing camera present on the Nexus 7. This doesn't bother us much seeing as smartphone cameras tend to be better and more suitable to use. There is a fairly decent 1.2Mp front facing camera for video chats, though.

Google Nexus 7: Software

The Nexus 7 brings with it the latest version of Android, this time it's called 4.1 Jelly Bean, an incremental update to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

There's no major overhaul on the interface so existing Android users will be immediately familiar with the layout and the way things work. However, Google has improved the performance and responsiveness of the operating system. In a word it's slick, a polished and refined version of Ice Cream Sandwich and closes the gap between Android and iOS.

We experienced no lag whatsoever across the entire tablet whether we were moving around the home screens, menus or scrolling through a video. Web browsing also gave smooth performance from the pre-loaded Chrome browser which loaded pages fast and did bat an eyelid at pinch zooming and scrolling.

Nice enhancements have been made to notifications which expand to show more information and allow you to respond via action buttons without opening the associated app. Widgets now resize automatically to the space you place them into.

Dictation can now be used offline and there are a number of improvements and changes to Google search. Search results are displayed in information cards and you can use voice to ask questions and get answers back in an audible voice. We found it understood the vast majority of questions we asked and gave us an answer quickly.

Google Now is a feature which aims to predict what information you will need, such as directions or train times so you don't actually need to search for it. It will gather what it thinks is useful information based on things like your location and events in your calendar. This feature requires time and the tablet needs information so we were unable to test in during our brief time with the Nexus 7.

The one issue we had with the software on the Nexus 7 was that the home screen interface does not support a landscape mode. The tablet is designed to be held in portrait orientation but we still would like the option to use it in landscape mode too, for example after watching a video.

Google Nexus 7: Battery life

Google touts an iPad matching 10 hours of battery life while browsing the web over Wi-Fi. On paper this is impressive so we hope it lives up to this promise.

We are very impressed with the Nexus 7 after our hands-on time with it. It's hard to believe a nicely designed and well-build tablet with such an impressive specification has price as low as this. This combination means the Nexus 7 is set to be big winner. 

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