November 25, 2012

Choosing a tablet

Here's a guide to the top options in large and small devices to help shoppers select the best one to give, or to keep.

By PETER SVENSSON The Associated Press

(Continued from page 3)

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A shopper reacts after buying a new iPad Mini in Seoul, South Korea, earlier this month. Apple has plenty of competition in tablet computers now, giving consumers a variety of good choices in sizes and capabilities.

The Associated Press photos

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The new Microsoft Surface runs a version of Windows adapted for tablets.

Additional Photos Below

The Kindle Fire is especially useful for members of Amazon's Prime shipping service, since they get access to free streaming movies. On the other hand, anyone could be annoyed by the ads that appear on the lock screen. Getting rid of them costs $15. There's no option for cellular broadband, so you're limited to Wi-Fi connections.

• Barnes & Noble Nook HD (starts at $199 for 8 gigabytes of storage)

Barnes & Noble has paid a lot of attention to the screens on its Nooks. This year, it's clearly outdone the competition, with a screen that packs the pixels tighter than any other small tablet. It's very sharp and colorful, approaching the look of the Retina screen that graces the full-size iPad.

The other strength of the Nook HD is that it has a slot for a memory card, meaning that you can expand the storage space for movies and music by 32 gigabytes for $25. It's the only tablet in our roundup with this feature.

The downside is that the Nook HD is less of a general-purpose tablet and more of a consumption device for books and movies.

It doesn't have a camera, so it's no good for videoconferencing. The selection of apps is the smallest.

You'll find big names like "Angry Birds" here, but there is no depth to the catalog.

There's also no option for cellular broadband.

Still, the Nook is an excellent choice for avid readers, kids and others who won't be frustrated by the small selection of things like 3-D shoot-em-up games.

• Google Nexus 7 (starts at $199 for 16 gigabytes of storage)

Frustrated that Amazon and Barnes & Noble were taking Google's Android software, gutting it and using it to power tablets that don't yield the search giant a red cent in advertising revenue or e-book sales, Google this year launched the first tablet under its own brand.

The Nexus 7 has a power-house processor and a screen similar to that of the Kindle Fire HD. Since it runs stock Android, it has access to hundreds of thousands of applications written for Android smartphones, and it has more sophisticated multi-tasking abilities than the competitors, so it's easy to switch from program to program. Like the iPad Mini, it has a GPS chip for navigation. It has a front-facing camera for videoconferencing.

There's a $299, 32-gigabyte version that can connect to AT&T's wireless network.

The Nexus 7 is a great tablet for the technophile who would chafe at the restrictions imposed by competing manufacturers. But anyone will be able to appreciate it.

In terms of kid-friendliness, it's beaten by Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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Additional Photos

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Hugo Barra of Google holds up the new Nexus 10 tablet, which beats the iPad’s screen resolution.

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with a “pen.”

Kindle Fire
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The Kindle Fire from Amazon now sports a camera and speakers on either side of the screen.

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Google’s Cheryl Pon shows off apps on the new Google Nexus 7 tablet. It has access to thousands of applications written for Android smartphones.


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The new iPad Mini has fewer pixels than other small tablets, but it has two cameras, front and back. It’s the only small tablet that has access to Apple’s App Store, with a wide selection of high-quality apps.



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