No 7-inch tablet is perfect, but users of different models have different complaints, according to a report from FixYa, the problem-solving website. Google Nexus 7 owners complain about system update issues, for example, whereas for Nook HD owners, poor touchscreen response is the main problem.
Sometimes the main complaint is inherent, rather than (say) a design fault or manufacturing error. For example, Amazon Kindle HD buyers don't like adverts on the lock screen, while Apple iPad Mini owners say the 4:3 screen ratio is a drawback for watching movies.
While the results are not statistically significant — the site is most likely to attract users who have problems with their machines — they do highlight areas that potential buyers should consider.
The main complaint about the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD — the adverts — is easily solved: the 30 percent who object can go to Amazon's website and pay a small fee to turn them off. Other complaints include slow multi-tasking (25 percent), typing difficulties with the on-screen keyboard (15 percent), and the slow release of apps (15 percent).
The Kindle Fire HD uses a forked version of Android so users do not have access to the Google-controlled Android marketplace, now called Play. Again, this is a well-known issue, and the Kindle Fire HD is aggressively priced on the basis that users will be more likely to buy things from Amazon.
Google's Nexus 7 tablet, made by Asus, received favourable reviews when it appeared, but some users have run into problems, as shown by the 30 percent FixYa says are complaining about system update issues. FixYa says: "After rolling through the majority of 2012 with a very solid user experience, an Android 4.2 system update from Google began to cause a lot of issues for users. These issues include but are not limited to laggy response times when opening applications, decreased performance when multitasking, a worse typing experience, the tablet’s screen not registering commands, web browsing taking longer to load, random reboots, and other problems."
Other Nexus 7 complaints include screen issues (30 percent) such as backlight bleeding and erratic touch detection, lack of storage space (20 percent) and poor microphone quality (10 percent).
Barnes & Noble's Nook HD attracted a variety of complaints including poor tocuhscreen response (30 percent), poor multi-tasking (20 percent), slow performance (20 percent) and speaker quality (20 percent). FixYa users report that the speakers are too quiet and some complain of "mild crackling", which may be significant when the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD's speakers are well above average quality, for a tablet, and go loud.
FixYa's report says: "The Nook HD also has a number of significant issues with its touchscreen and overall performance. Consumers report a large amount of issues in this regard— whether that’s laggy response times, trouble multitasking across web browsing and apps, opening applications, switching between applications, selecting items on your screen. Essentially, the Nook HD runs into a lot of problems with basic usability. For a tablet, that’s an issue and one that unfortunately seems to overshadow all of the good things about the beautiful HD screen."
Apart from the 4:3 aspect ratio, the main complaints about Apple's iPad Mini are the easily-scratched back, the screen quality, and the amount of storage space: all three attract 20 percent of complaints. However, the easily-scratched back is the only problem that Apple could deal with. All the others are deliberate design decisions that buyers should have been and probably were aware of before they bought their device.
FixYa comments: "while Apple has a segment of their user base that would prefer them to make different decisions, the fact that there was a limited amount of usability issues makes this a device that works well in the way that it was intended."
You can read the FixYa 7-inch Tablet Report online or download it in PDF format.