TribLIVE

| Business

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

How to buy best tablet for holidays

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Kim Komando Special For USA Today
Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

What do American consumers want more than money or peace and happiness this Christmas season? If you said a tablet, you're correct — at least according to a Consumer Electronics Association poll.

The same poll also found that a year ago, 14 percent of American consumers owned a tablet. It's more than double that now. Tablets are more coveted than smartphones and laptops.

So why is tablet fever so high? For the first time since the Apple iPad debuted in 2010, consumers have some really good choices among competing tablets made by Amazon and Google.

It's a good time to review those choices and help you pick the tablet that's best for you — or that special someone on your gift list.

• Android tablets, which run Google's Android operating system, are becoming a big threat to the iPad. Though Google has made Android available to all tablet makers, your best bets for now are Google's flagship tablets, Nexus 7 ($199) and Nexus 10 ($399).

These gadgets run the latest version of the Android operating system, 4.2 or Jelly Bean, and are the first to receive updates. They can go neck-and-neck with the power, features and usability you'll find on similarly sized iPads, too, but at a lower cost. In some ways, the Nexus tablets are actually better.

Now you will come across sub-$100 Android tablets when shopping. I don't recommend them. They're slow with low-resolution screens and can lack the latest software.

• Amazon's Android-based Kindle Fire tablet got a major upgrade recently, along with a few siblings, making it a more competitive option.

Amazon revised the original Kindle Fire, with more RAM, faster Wi-Fi and a front-facing camera, but it dropped the price to $159 from $199. In addition, Amazon released the 7-inch and 8.9-inch Fire HDs.

The $199 7-inch Fire HD has a 1280-by-800-pixel screen, 16 gigabytes of storage, dual Wi-Fi and stereo speakers. The 8.9-inch version starts at $299 and has the same specs but upgrades the screen.

The main attraction of the Kindle Fire is that it ties in closely to the extensive Amazon ecosystem of music, movies and e-books. Amazon even has a dedicated Kindle app store.

If you want a tablet that's simple to use but want to save some money, a Kindle Fire is a good choice.

• Despite the inroads Google and Amazon are making, the iPad is still the most-recognized tablet.

Apple's fourth-generation iPad with Retina display benefits from a new high-powered processor and graphics system that allows gamers and content creators more flexibility on the go.

Gamers can download apps that rival home game consoles. Content creators have access to video editing, photo editing and drawing apps that nearly match computer-based programs. Of course, it's also great for watching movies, email and web surfing.

The iPad's $499 starting price, however, makes many potential buyers think twice. The 4G cellular version costs $130 more.

To save a little money, don't forget that Apple still sells the 16GB Wi-Fi version of the iPad 2 for $399. You can also opt for the new 7.9-inch iPad Mini for $329. It has the insides of the iPad 2 and its non Retina screen but is much thinner and lighter.

Email Kim Komando at techcomments@usatoday.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business