2013 Tablet Comparison Guide ( Part 2 of 2 )

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  1. Spider

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    By Will Shanklin November 9, 2013
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    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)



    Wireless

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    The Surface 2 is the only tablet in this bunch that isn't sold in a cellular version, but that will supposedly come sometime in 2014.

    Processor

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    There shouldn't be too much concern about performance anywhere in this group, but expect the 7-in Galaxy Tab to be the most questionable. The 1st-gen iPad mini is no speed demon either, but the two new iPads are about as fast as it gets right now.

    RAM

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    RAM ranges from a mere 512 MB in the first iPad mini, all the way up to 3 GB in the 2014 Galaxy Note 10.1.

    Battery

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    We haven't put all of these tablets through our standard battery test, so the above visuals show their capacities (at least where they're known). From where we stand now, we'd say the iPad Air and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 are the ones to beat here.

    Cameras

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    Who's up for some awkward tablet photography? Everything but the 7-in Kindle Fire HDX includes a rear camera.

    On-device customer service

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    We'll throw Amazon a bone here, and highlight the Kindle Fire HDX's "Mayday" button. If you want help using your device, tap the button, and an Amazon rep will pop onto your screen to lend a hand. It's kinda like one-way video chat: you can see the Amazon rep, but they can only hear you. They can, however, see your screen, draw on your screen, and even control your device, if you're into that kind of thing.

    Release cycle

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    The original iPad mini is the only 2012 holdout on this list (Apple kept it around for a second year at a lower price). Most of the other tablets just launched within the last few months, so there isn't too much to worry about here.

    The Galaxy Note 8.0 has been around since April, so it's possible we'll see its follow-up in around five months.

    The iPad mini with Retina Display hasn't yet released at the time of publication. But you should expect it around the end of November, possibly in extremely short supply.

    Starting prices

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    And it all leads up to this. As you can see, prices are all over the place. Apple has never been known for budget pricing, and the iPads are no exception. That includes a US$70 hike for the 2nd-gen iPad mini over what the original went for last year. In exchange, the 1st-gen model got a $30 price drop.

    Apple's high margins leave room for Amazon and Google to price their tablets pretty aggressively. You could easily argue that the two Kindle Fires and the Nexus 7 give you the most hardware bang for your buck. They all have razor-sharp screens, fast performance, and modest price tags.

    ... just remember that the base prices for Amazon's tablets include advertising on the lockscreen. You'll need to fork over an extra $15 to turn those ads off.

    Wrap-up

    So there you have it, your most high-profile tablets of the 2013 holiday shopping season. The iPad is still the most popular tablet, and we think the iPad Air is the best full-sized tablet you can buy today. But Samsung's tablets are growing in popularity, and Kindle Fire and Nexus tablets always provide that great value.

    The odd man out is the Surface 2: it's improved over its predecessor, but its app selection isn't great, and its supposed productivity advantage is dampened by the fact that it doesn't run desktop apps (you'll need to check out the Surface Pro 2 for that). Plus you'll have to fork over an extra $120 or so to get one of Microsoft's keyboard covers, an integral part of the Surface experience.

    But hey, we aren't here to make up your mind for you. What fun would that be? We can say that there aren't any tablets in this group that we'd avoid like the plague. The hardest sell might be the 7-in Galaxy Tab 3 ... not because it's a terrible tablet, but because you can get a much better device, the Nexus 7, for only $30 more.
     

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