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Tablet wars: iPad Mini, Nexus 7, Kindle Fire, NOOK HD compared

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The market for tablets with a screen smaller than the original iPad's 9.7 inches on the diagonal has exploded this year, with some of the biggest technology companies in the world fighting it out for consumers' attention.

Apple's new iPad Mini will go on sale in the UK this Friday (November 2), but it will compete with the already established Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7.

Complicating matters even further is the forthcoming arrival of the NOOK HD, a new colour screen tablet from US bookseller Barnes & Noble.

So, join us as we run down the relative merits of all these machines so you can decide which, if any, is worth your cash.

The iPad Mini

© PA Images / Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

iPad Mini

© Apple



Apple iPad Mini

What is it?: Apple's debut model in the small-screen tablet market blends its iPad and iPod Touch devices into a brand new multimedia slate.
Display: 7.9-inch LCD display with a display resolution of 1024x768. Pixel density of 163 pixels per inch (PPI) and 4:3 aspect ratio.
Body: Aluminium and glass chassis weighs 0.68 pounds for WiFi-only model, or 0.69 pounds for the WiFi/cellular version. The slate is 7.2 mm thick.
Processor: A5 1GHz Processor with 512MB of RAM.
Connectivity: WiFi and also cellular, including both 3G and 4G.
Camera: Rear iSight 5-megapixel camera with a wide open f/2.4 aperture. Front-facing camera for FaceTime calls.
Storage: Comes on-board with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage.
Software: Runs Apple's iOS 6 operating system, which unfortunately includes the much maligned Apple Maps system.
Apps/content: Full access to iTunes and the App Store, including a market-leading 275,000 apps produced specifically for the tablet.
Battery: The iPad Mini's battery is claimed to give 10 hours of use on a full charge.
Brand factor: The lure of Apple's brand is as strong as ever and it remains the most desired tech choice for many consumers.
Price: £269 for the 16GB, £349 for the 32GB and £429 for the 64GB WiFi-only models. £369, £449 and £529 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models that can support WiFi and 3G/4G connectivity.
Release date: On November 2 in WiFi-only, cellular versions will launch later.
Verdict: Whilst Apple may not have surprised anyone with its iPad Mini, it is still king of the tablet computer market. The firm may have priced the small screen model of the iPad a little too high against such strong competition, but it will still sell like hot cakes.

Google's Nexus 7 tablet

© Google

Google's Nexus 7 tablet

© Google



Google Nexus 7

What is it?: Google's debut tablet computer made by Taiwanese firm Asus.
Display: 7-inch LCD display with a display resolution of 1280x800. Pixel density of 216 pixels per inch (PPI).
Dimensions: Plastic chassis that weighs 340 grams, is 4.7 inches wide and 10.5 mm thick.
Processor: Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core chip. 1GB of RAM,
Connectivity: WiFi and also 3G.
Camera: 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera.
Storage: Comes on-board with 16GB and now 32GB of internal storage.
Software: Runs the latest version of Android, 4.2 JellyBean.
Apps/content: Full access to the Google Play Store, offering a range of books, videos, music and other content. There are also 700,000 applications, although as Apple points out, it is unclear how many of these have been specifically designed for the tablet experience.
Battery: 4,325 mAh lithium-ion polymer battery that typically lasts 9.5 hours on a full charge.
Brand factor: Google is not associated with hardware but its brand is strong enough to get into the mind of consumers. Also, the Nexus line is pretty well established now, as is Android, the world's largest mobile operating system.
Price: The 16GB version costs £159 and the 32GB edition £199. The top end 32GB model with WiFi/3G compatibility costs £239.
Release date: Out now.
Verdict: The Nexus 7 offers an excellent user experience, solid performance and rich collection of content for an affordable price. Now with WiFi and 3G, Google's slate is a big competitor to the iPad Mini.

The New Kindle Fire HD 7 tablet

© Amazon

Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, holds the new at the introduction of the new Amazon Kindle Fire HD in Santa Monica, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012.

© PA Images / Reed Saxon/AP



Amazon Kindle Fire HD

What is it?: Amazon launched its Kindle Fire tablet internationally this autumn, including a Kindle Fire HD model in the UK.
Display: 7-inch LED Backlit screen Multi-touch screen. Screen resolution of 1280x800. Pixel density of 216 pixels per inch (PPI).
Dimensions: Weighs 395g grams and is 10.3 mm thick.
Processor: Texas Instruments Dual-core 1.2GHz TI OMAP4 4460. 1GB of RAM.
Connectivity: Just WiFi, but dual-band for faster downloads and HD streaming.
Sound: Worth noting that the Kindle Fire HD has Dolby audio and dual-driver stereo speakers.
Camera: Front-facing HD camera.
Storage: Comes on-board with 16GB or 32GB.
Operating system: Heavily modified version of Android Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), featuring customised Amazon features.
Apps/content: Amazon's own Appstore gives access to over 22 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, and magazines, along with a range of popular apps - but not as many as Apple's iPad. Users get one month free trial of Amazon's LoveFilm.
Battery: 4,325 mAh lithium-ion polymer battery that typically lasts 9.5 hours on a full charge.
Brand factor: Retailer Amazon is a well known brand in people's minds, and the Kindle is well established via the range of market-leading e-Readers.
Price: £159 for 8GB storage model, and £189 for 16GB version.
Release date: Out now.
Verdict: Amazon's new Kindle Fire HD slate offers impressive tech specs and a big library of content but its lack of 3G puts it at a disadvantage against the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini. Amazon also cannot offer the same breadth of tablet apps as Apple, but the pricing certainly makes this attractive.

Nook 7" HD Tablet

© Barnes & Noble

NOOK HD Black

© NOOK



Barnes & Noble NOOK HD

What is it?: Barnes & Noble's small screen tablet makes its debut in the UK this month.
Display: 7-inch LED Backlit screen Multi-touch screen. Screen resolution of 1440x900. 243 pixels per inch (PPI).
Dimensions: Weighs 315 grams and is 127mm thick.
Processor: OMAP 4470 dual-core processor that clocks at 1.3GHz. 1GB of RAM.
Connectivity: WiFi.
Camera: None.
Storage: Comes on-board with 8GB or 16GB, but internal memory can be expanded up to 32GB via a MicroSD card.
Software: Version of Android Ice Cream Sandwich overlaid with Barnes & Noble's own 'paper' user interface. Has various features including separate accounts for different users and the Your Nook homepages.
Apps: Instead of the Google Play store, NOOK HD gets the NOOK Store, offering more than 2.5 million eBooks, a large selection of magazines, and a range of movies and TV shows via the new NOOK Video service. There are only around 100,000 apps.
Battery: NOOK HD's battery is claimed to offer up to 10.5 hours of continuous reading and up to 9.5 hours of video watching.
Brand factor: Here is where the NOOK HD will suffer. Both Barnes & Noble and NOOK are pretty much unknown in the UK, meaning it will take time to get the product into the mind of consumers. A big marketing campaign could help in this regard, as has already happened with the NOOK e-Readers which launched this week.
Price: £159 for 8GB storage model, and £189 for 16GB version.
Release date: Out November.
Verdict: The NOOK HD is an impressive machine, with as good or better technical specs than its rivals. But the tablet could get lost against such mighty competition. Might take a while to find its audience.

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