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Tablet deathmatch: iPad Mini vs. Nexus 7 vs. Kindle Fire HD

Galen Gruman | Nov. 6, 2012
A new generation of small tablets has reinvented entertainment on the go, but which is best? Find out now and gear up for holiday gift-buying

But just because you bought an app on one Android device does not guarantee it will run on another. For example, the Nexus 7 is not compatible with several of my Android news apps, including CNN, the Economist, and USA Today. You only find out when you try to install them -- there's no indication in the list of previously purchased apps as to which are compatible.

The Kindle Fire HD's selection of apps is more limited than Android's Play Store offerings, mainly to edutainment apps and lightweight utilities. But the Kindle Fire does have an extensive game catalog.

All the media tablets have the most popular social apps, such as Skype, Twitter, and Facebook, either preinstalled or downloadable for free. If you use Pinterest, you can get the app for the iPad Mini (or any iPad) and the Kindle Fire HD but not the Nexus 7.

The app support winner. There's no question the iPad Mini has the greatest and best app catalog. But the Nexus 7's catalog is strong for media tablet usage, and the Kindle Fire HD's catalog is adequate.

Deathmatch: Web and InternetAlthough "consuming" media and playing games are the main uses of a media tablet, being able to connect to the Internet for Web access is a close third. It's no surprise that all the devices support Wi-Fi for Internet connections -- and Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 models will soon follow in the iPad Mini's footsteps and support cellular connections for anywhere-access to the Internet.

Browsers. As you might expect, all the media tablets provide Web browsers. Using a browser on a 7-inch-class device, however, is often difficult. Web pages are designed for viewing on PCs, where 19-inch and larger monitors are now the norm. On a 10-inch-class tablet, they often feel scrunched, and it's worse on a 7-inch device. Plus, the onscreen keyboard for entering URLs is harder to use.

Still, the ability to zoom in as needed makes surfing acceptable. The iPad Mini provides the best browsing experience due to its larger (8-inch) screen and the capable Safari browser, which has the extra benefit of iCloud synchronization with other iOS and OS X devices.

Android's Chrome browser has a similar feature and is a great browser choice as well. Chrome is slightly more HTML5-savvy than Safari on the iPad -- Chrome scores 390 out of 500 points versus Safari's 386 in the compatibility tests -- but Safari is better at supporting AJAX controls than Chrome is, meaning some interactive websites will work better on iOS's Safari than on Android's Chrome. All in all, running Chrome on the Nexus 7 is a close second to running Safari on the iPad Mini.


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