When it comes to tablets, the two that I hear the most about from consumers are Apple's iPad and Amazon's Fire range. It's pretty much like everyone else has given up on tablets and left the market to these two behemoths.
But which offers the best holiday tablet?
The first thing to bear in mind is that both the iPad and the Fire are a range of tablets. Here they are in order of size (and price).
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch - prices starting at $799
- iPad Pro 9.7-inch - prices starting at $599
- iPad Air 2 - prices starting at $399
- iPad mini 4 - prices starting at $399
- iPad mini 2 - prices starting at $269
- Fire 7 - prices starting at $49.99
- Fire HD 8 - prices starting at $89.99
- Fire Kids Edition - $99.99
- Fire HD 10 - Prices starting at $229.99
For many people, price is going to be a deciding factor. And for the casual user, Amazon's offerings at under $100 are impossible to beat, and the tablets represent excellent value.
But here are a few things to consider:
- If someone is already in one ecosystem or another (say they already own an iPhone, or they buy all their content from Amazon) then that will steer the choice towards one company or another.
- The accessory ecosystem for the iPad is massive, while that for the Fire will be far more modest (limited mostly to things like cases and such). Support for cool gadgets such as IoT lightbulbs and doorbells and light switches will be almost non-existent for the Fire. Same goes for medical and health stuff.
- Take storage into consideration. With Apple, you get exactly what you pay for in terms of storage and there is no option to increase storage using a microSD card, and iCloud costs extra. With Amazon, you can pop a microSD card into all the tablets to boost on-board storage (up to 200GB), plus you get unlimited Amazon cloud storage for Amazon content.
- Amazon's Fire tablets are all Wi-Fi only, while Apple offers Wi-Fi + cellular versions for all of its tablets. A real consideration for anyone planning to take their tablet on the road.
- Amazon's Fire Kids Edition is great for youngsters, because not only do you get a cool bumper case to prevent damage, and pretty neat parental controls, but you also get a 2-year "worry-free" warranty where if the tablet gets broken, Amazon will just replace it, no questions asked.
- Fire tablets are, on the whole, more robust than iPads. Amazon goes as far as to tumble-test them for durability, which is handy if they're going to be dropped on the floor, sat on, and used as stakeboards by toddlers.
- For a work/BYOD setting, the iPad is likely to be better supported than any of the Fire tablets.
- Digital content is easier to find on the Fire tablets (it floats up right to your front screen), while on the iPad it's spread across multiple apps. This makes the Fire a better choice for those who are less technical or have less patience or willingness to learn new things.
- Amazon does show ads on the lockscreen of the Fire tablets - it calls these special offers - and it will cost you an additional $15 to get rid of these (although personally, I don't find them intrusive).
- There is an app-gap between the iPad and Fire, with iPad having the broadest range of apps on offer.
When it come to technical specs such as processor speed and screen pixel density, I really wouldn't worry about it. IT's clearly a case of "the more you pay, the better the hardware." Also, don't worry about trying to compare the specs between iPad and Fire, you'll just get bogged down because mostly it's like comparing apples to oranges.
Bottom line, beyond giving you the facts, the final decision is down to you.