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New Nexus 7 takes on iPad Mini and Kindle Fire HD

Galen Gruman | Aug. 15, 2013
Google's revised media tablet is a lot better than the original, but not enough to unseat the iPad Mini in our media tablet deathmatch.

Although the iPad Mini doesn't use Apple's very crisp Retina display (with 2,048-by-1,536-pixel resolution), the 8-inch screen size means its 1,024-by-768-pixel resolution results in a higher number of dots per inch than that of the iPad 2's display. Although the 163 pixels-per-inch count for the iPad Mini is less than that of its competitors, the iPad Mini's screen quality still comes out ahead.

The iPad Mini is a fraction of an inch longer than the Kindle Fire HD but nearly an inch wider than the Nexus 7. Its screen size is nearly an inch longer diagonally, making for a noticeably larger screen. The iPad Mini is also noticeably thinner than the Kindle Fire HD and a tad thinner than the Nexus 7. The iPad Mini weighs 12 ounces, while the Kindle Fire HD weighs 14 ounces and the Nexus 7 weighs just 10 ounces.

The iPad Mini has no storage expansion capability — a hallmark Apple limitation. Plus, it offers LTE versions for the three top U.S. carriers: Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. It also sports low-power Bluetooth 4.0 and AirPlay streaming if you own an Apple TV and AirPrint wireless printing with a compatible printer.

The iPad Mini's Lightning connector is compact and versatile, if you're willing to pony up for such pricey peripherals as video connectors ($49 each) and buy the Lightning versions of all those Dock-connector devices that made the first three generations of the iPad so versatile. Taking its wired and wireless capabilities together, the iPad Mini can connect in almost every way that matters.

The Pad Mini costs $329 for a model with 16GB of storage. The 32GB model costs $429, and the 64GB model costs $529. The cellular models cost $130 more. For that higher price, you get the best hardware of any media tablet.

Nexus 7. This tablet is designed with an unobtrusive look that focuses you on the screen's display. The new Nexus 7 has a more pronounced widescreen proportion, giving it the widest or narrowest feel, depending on how you're holding it, of all three media tablets.

The screen's visual quality is very good, though it's smaller than I would like. The new 323-pixels-per-inch screen is a big step up compared to the previous Nexus 7, bringing it close to iPad Mini quality levels.

Its speakers are decent —better than the original model's — but suffer from distortion at high volumes and an (unfortunate) choice between an echo-chamber effect or tinny tone depending on whether surround sound is enabled. The Nexus 7 now sports a rear camera, which is perfectly adequate. My big beef is its confusing user interface for in-camera adjustments.


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