How to decide between full-sized tablets: iPad, Nexus 10, Kindle HD, Surface RT, and


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Mar 24, 2011
How to decide between full-sized tablets: iPad, Nexus 10, Kindle HD, Surface RT, and Nook HD+

Summary: As tablets mature, consumers have a wide range of excellent devices to choose from. But how do you pick just one? ZDNet's DIY-IT editor David Gewirtz helps you decide and even includes a handy decision tree chart.

By David Gewirtz for DIY-IT |November 15, 2012 -- 15:39 GMT (07:39 PST)

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Last week, I published a "how to decide" guide for smaller, 7-inch tablets. Since then, many of you have requested I do the full-size tablet equivalent. This time, we're going to look at bigger tablets, ranging from just under 9-inches up to a little over 10-inches.

Helpful tip: If you don't have time to read this whole article, there's an easy-to-follow chart on the last page. That said, there's a lot that will help you choose in the rest of this piece.

Ground rules

As with all my "how to decide" guides, it's important to remind you that this isn't a review. Instead, it's a guide to help you understand just how to think about these different devices and choose the one that's best suited for your needs. I will rate certain aspects of each device, but it's up to you to put the pieces together and see what's best.
With this group of devices, that's particularly true. There are some vast differences in usage models for some of the devices, and in other ways, many of them are quite similar.

General differences

When I talked about the smaller models, I explained that there were really two key decision criteria: price and ecosystem. You needed to decide how much you wanted to spend, and whether you're more interested in playing in the Android, Apple, or Amazon ecosystem.

The price issue is certainly true of the larger tablets. The least expensive full-sized tablet starts at $269, and there are variants and configurations that will take you up to about $1,000 if you add a lot of RAM or a cellular or keyboard option.

When it comes to ecosystem, I'm also looking at larger tablets from Barnes & Noble, so there's the B&N ecosystem, as well as Microsoft, which opens the entire can of RT/Windows 8 worms (which I'll discuss later).

One thing that should be noted is that I'm discussing what are essentially reference models for some of these tablets. If you like Android, most of what I discuss will apply pretty nearly as well for a Samsung device as for the Nexus 10. Likewise, if you're (for some reason) excited by Windows 8 RT, you can get a Surface RT from Microsoft, or a similar device from many of the usual PC vendor suspects.

Size and weight

There is something of a size and weight difference between these various tablets:

iPad 4th generation9.5 inches7.31 inches.37 inches1.44 lbs
Nexus 1010.39 inches6.99 inches.35 inches1.33 lbs
Kindle Fire HD 8.9"9.4 inches6.3 inches.35 inches1.25 lbs
Surface RT10.81 inches6.77 inches.37 inches1.50 lbs
Nook HD+9.46 inches6.41 inches.45 inches1.13 lbs

If you look at this chart, you may realize it really tells us a lot about the devices. Perhaps the weirdest thing is that the device called the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" (that's the official name of the product) is, in fact, 9.4 inches tall. There's not a single published spec on the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" that's 8.9 inches. It's just weird.

If you're buying a tablet, you should take into account how heavy one is. I don't like taking my iPad to bed, for instance, because it's just too heavy to hold in my hand and read comfortably before going to sleep. I much prefer reading on my far lighter iPhone.

If you're interested in losing weight, the Nook HD+ is almost a quarter of a pound lighter than most of the other devices, while the Surface RT weighs the most, but just slightly more than the iPad. Also, note that the iPad with cellular option is just very slightly heavier than what's listed above.

Of course, all the 7-inch devices weigh a lot less, but I'm not comparing 7-inch devices to their larger brethren in this article. Just keep in mind that if you're truly most interested in reducing weight, a 7-incher might be an option.
Another interesting observation is that some of the larger tablet devices are taller and thinner than the others. The shortest, squattest of them all is the iPad, which still does not support a 16x9 wide-screen aspect ratio.

The aspect ratio issue is particularly important if you mostly plan to watch movies on the device. If you intend to hold the device in portrait mode (tall), then a narrower screen is easier to hold, but Web pages might be more difficult to read.

Looking at this set of specs, there's nothing wildly unusual that calls out one device over all the others for a total win, but I do give the Kindle and the Nook points for being the lightest.

Next up, pricing...

The author, David Gewirtz, says:
"If you know and love Android (or you want to run apps that Apple would never sanction), go for the Nexus 10. I have a Nexus 7 and it rocks."

+1 on the Nexus 7!
I would buy a Nexus 8 if one existed, I might get a Nexus 10 when price comes down to a more reasonable price.
vampirefo. said:
I would buy a Nexus 8 if one existed, I might get a Nexus 10 when price comes down to a more reasonable price.

I wonder if we will see rather than a price drop on the Nexus 10 an increase in storage like with the Nexus 7. Of course I wouldn't expect it until well after the new year.

Sent from my Galaxy Note 10.1
peterluo1234 said:
I prefer Nook HD, it is much clearer than others, if you do not want to be limited to the relative fewer apps, Nook HD is a good choice

Interesting I would think nook would be limited to apps, you have full access to playstore?
Thanks for this. Some thoughts.

I have seen a report placing the Nexus 10 at the top of a similar list of Android tablets, except they still put the iPad above it for overall smoothness and integration.

The report I read pointed out that the 'surface' had a step down screen from the iPad, Nexus & Fire, somewhat unacceptable considering it's price.

I thought you had the dimensions reversed on the iPad & 10, till I realized it was listed in 'portrait' mode. Duhhh! :p

Just wish something the caliber of the Nexus 10 was 9.7" / 4/3. Wide screen just don't do it for me, personally.

Maybe, just maybe when the new Ten4 from SmartQ arrives on the scene I will be rewarded. Oh well, I can dream! :)