2013 Tablet Comparison Guide ( Part 1 of 2 )

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  1. Spider

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    By Will Shanklin November 9, 2013

    Gizmag compares the features and specs of some of the best tablets of 2013

    Planning on putting a new tablet on your holiday wish list? Or maybe you're trying to find the perfect slate for a loved one? There are a lot of tablets out there, but Gizmag is here to help you sort through the mess. Join us, as we compare the features and specs of the year's most popular tablets.

    Image Gallery (35 images)

    Meet the tablets

    We had to narrow our list down somehow, so we went with what we consider to be the highest-profile tablets of the holiday season. If you stroll into your local electronics or retail store, these are the models you're most likely to see.
    Are they also the best tablets? Many are, others maybe less so. But for the sake of simplicity, we had to cut it off somewhere, so "high-profile" it is.

    We also left out hybrid tablet PCs that run full desktop operating systems, like the Surface Pro and Lenovo Yoga. Their software, internal guts, and prices basically make them laptops trapped in tablets' bodies, so we left them out of this round.

    We divided our picks into two groups, based on size. We have the large (8.9" and larger) tablets:

    • Apple iPad Air
    • Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9"
    • Microsoft Surface 2
    • Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1
    • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition)
    And we have the miniature (8.0" and smaller) tablets:

    • Apple iPad mini with Retina Display
    • Apple iPad mini (1st generation)
    • Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
    • Google/Asus Nexus 7 (2013)
    • Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8-inch
    • Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7-inch
    • Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

    For each category, you'll see two visuals: one showing the five big boys, and another with the seven little guys. The images sit smack dab on top of each other, so you can easily ogle all twelve at once.

    Got it? Good. Without further ado, we present to you our 2013 Tablet Comparison Guide.



    Quite a variety here. We have everything ranging from Microsoft's big honkin' Surface 2 to Samsung's teeny Galaxy Tab 3 7". How big of a difference is it? Well, the Tab 3 only gives you 46 percent as much surface area as the Surface. All the other tablets lie somewhere in between.

    We'll get to displays in a minute, but it's worth noting that the screens of the three iPads and the 8-in Galaxy Tab take up the highest percentage of their front faces. Other tablets, like the Kindle Fires and the Surface 2, have much more space devoted to their bezels.



    Among the big tablets, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is the lightest, but remember that it also has a 27 percent smaller screen than the feathery iPad Air. The Surface 2, despite being a hair lighter than the 1st-gen Surface RT, is by far the heaviest in this group.

    The Nexus 7 is the lightest in this bunch, but the small tablets are all in the same general weight class. That's a win for the 8-in tablets, as they all give you significantly more screen real estate than the 7-in slates do (more on that in a minute).



    Plastic shows up the most, but it's also generally going to give you the cheapest feel. Only the Surface and the iPads use metallic build materials.

    The two Kindle Fires and the Nexus 7 all lack physical navigation buttons. So you'll sacrifice a portion of their screens, in exchange for virtual buttons.

    Also worth noting: the Surface 2 is the only tablet in this group that gives you a kickstand. It helps to use it as a faux laptop, when paired with one of Microsoft's keyboard covers.



    Here are your color options, with eight of the 12 tablets giving you some choice in the matter.



    If you're wondering about those percentages above, that's a quick reference to show you the relative size of each screen (with the biggest screen, the Surface 2, marking 100 percent). These stats are based on screen area, not the misleading diagonal measurements that manufacturers use.

    When is a 7.9-in screen bigger than an 8-in screen? When they have different aspect ratios, that's when. The iPad mini's 4:3 aspect ratio gives you four percent more screen area than the Galaxy Note 8.0's 16:10 screen.

    Speaking of aspect ratios, the iPads' 4:3 is easily the best for portrait mode use, and is also good for landscape. The 16:10 tablets can work decently for portrait mode, but are more oblong. The Surface's 16:9 screen is, more or less, strictly landscape. Use it in portrait, and you'll feel like you're reading a long scroll of parchment.

    The majority of the tablets in this group have razor-sharp, high resolution displays (which you'd call "Retina" if you were Apple). The exceptions? Four Samsung tablets and the 1st-gen iPad mini all have much lower resolution.



    Samsung's Galaxy Notes are the only slates in this group that are centered around stylus input. They also include some software features that take advantage of the S Pen, including quick note-jotting from anywhere, screen annotating, and scrolling through web pages by hovering your pen over the screen.

    You can buy third-party styluses that are compatible with the other tablets, but they don't have the system-wide software integration that the Notes' S Pens do.



    Each platform has its own fans, but when it comes to apps, the iPad still rules this roost. Apple's most recent stats (from October) boast of over 475,000 total tablet-optimized apps in the App Store. A recent report estimated that Google Play's count of tablet apps is "in the low tens of thousands."

    Curiously, the Surface's Windows Store has over 120,000 apps. It must be loaded with lots of useless filler apps, though, because our experience paints a very different picture. Despite those stats, we're confident in declaring its app selection the weakest in this group.

    Of course you can also run scaled-up smartphone apps on all the Android tablets. You can get away with that on smaller tablets like the Nexus 7, but the bigger the screen gets, the more ridiculous those stretched-out apps will look. Expect lots of blank space and unattractive layouts.

    Bundled office apps


    Apple is throwing in its iWork suite of office apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) with every new iPad purchase. Microsoft also includes the RT version of Office, which looks and behaves almost exactly like the desktop version, with the Surface 2. Not to miss out on the fun, Amazon is tacking on a third-party office app called OfficeSuite Pro 7 with Fire HDX purchases.



    The two new iPads offer the most storage options, but everything else (apart from last year's iPad mini) is available in multiple flash storage tiers.

    See 2013 Tablet Comparison Guide ( Part 2 of 2 ) http://www.androidtablets.net/forum...t-comparison-guide-part-2-2-a.html#post299301

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