So, what are the best alternatives to the forthcoming iPad Mini. Here's my list from least to most attractive:
5) Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7
Gosh, the Samsung 7.7's AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) display is pretty. As pretty as an iPad 3's Active Matrix? No, probably, but it is eye-catching.
Under the pretty screen, you'll find a 1.4GHz dual core processor with 16GBs of storage and a GB of RAM. It started with Android 3.2, Honeycomb, but it was updated in July to Android 4.04, Ice Cream Sandwich. It also supports, with the right contract of course, 4G.
I only have one problem with it: the price tag. At $400, it's a little much for a 7" tablet.
4) Amazon Kindle Fire (2012)
You can't beat the new model Kindle Fire's price: $159. It also comes tied at the hip with Amazon goodies. That's both a virtue and a vice.
The hardware is OK for the price. It uses a dual-core 1.2GHz OMAP 4430 CPU, a GB of RAM, and comes with 16GBs of storage. For its operating system, the Kindle Fire uses a highly customized version of Ice Cream Sandwich. On the other hand, it still doesn't have HD video support... or a camera, … or storage expansion slot... or physical volume buttons.
All that said, it's still a good tablet for the price. If I wanted to buy a tablet for a relative or friend this holiday who just wanted to read books and watch movies, I'd seriously consider the updated Kindle Fire.
It uses a TI OMAP 4 dual-core 1 GHz processor along with 8GBs of storage, a GB of RAM and can handle addition storage with its microSD slot. Like the Kindle it uses a modified version of Android. In the Nook's case that's Android 2.3, GingerBread.
Older hardware and software and all, I still prefer the old Nook Tablet to the new Kindle Fire and I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on the 2012 Nook. Why? Because it just works better. It delivers smoother performance and I find its interface to be easier to use. Now, if only Barnes & Noble and Amazon both would make it easier for us to get fuller access to Android programs I'd be even happier.
2) Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0
It's not quite as good as its big brother, the Galaxy Tab 7.7, but at $350 I can live with the newly 4G LTE-enabled Galaxy Tab 2.
It comes with a a 1.2GHz dual-core OMAP 4430 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. And, like the Tab 7.7, it uses Android 4.04. It is, as you would have guessed, slower and less full-featured than its high-priced relative. The most noticeable difference is that it has a front-facing VGA camera instead of a 2 megapixel front facing camera.
If you decide this is the tablet for you, check to make sure that you're getting the model you want. The earlier Galaxy Tab only Wi-Fi model is still available at a price of about $250. It's a trifle slower than the new model and of course doesn't support LTE, but it's otherwise a winner.
With a quad-core Tegra 3 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 8GBs of storage the Nexus 7 runs very, very fast. How fast? Faster than any of its competitors. It's also the only one currently running Android 4.1, JellyBean. This is easily the best version of Android to date.
The result is an outstanding tablet. If I could only have one tablet, it would be a Nexus 7.
Mini iPad? I'm sure it will be nice, but nicer than these? Maybe. In the same price-range as them? I can't see that. And, as for being nicer and more afforable than the Nexus 7? I don't think so.