The Kindle turned five this past month, and it’s almost astounding how the market for ereaders and tablets has expanded since the first model hit Amazon’s storefront. A couple of weeks ago, we posted a chart showing the dizzying number of models currently for sale, and as we head into the holiday season, reviewers acknowledge the wide array of offerings while never seeming terribly blown away by any of the new devices. Everybody seems to have their missteps: the iPad Mini lacks the screen quality of the iPad 4 with Retina display, the Nexus 10 still has a way to go with usability, and the Nook HD is great for reading but still not an exemplary tablet. In fact, many reviewers admit that price will be the deciding factor this holiday season, with more than enough options for every budget. In a recent piece for the New York Times, David Pogue confirms this premise that it’s all a pretty level playing field when he says, “You know the old photographer’s adage, ‘The best camera is the one you have with you?’ You could say the same thing about your tablet.”
So which tablet is reigning supreme five years after the Kindle’s big debut? Read on to draw your own conclusion:
“The Barnes & Noble Nook HD ($199 for 8GB, $229 for 16GB) has the best hardware of any 7-inch tablet in its price class. It’s light and well built, with a grippy body and an absolutely stellar screen. As long as you use it to read Barnes & Noble’s books, it’s spectacular. But tablets nowadays do a lot more than that, and the Nook HD doesn’t. That makes the Nook HD a great reader’s tablet, but not a leading tablet overall.”
—Sascha Segan, PC Mag (11/1/2012)
“While Apple is busy pushing a smaller tablet to take on Google and Amazon’s 7-inch offerings, Google is thinking big.
The company has teamed up with Samsung for the new Nexus 10 tablet, a direct competitor to the full-size iPad… The Nexus 10 is a solid entry into the category, with excellent hardware and a stunning screen.”
—Heather Kelly, CNN (11/2/2012)
“Finally, the physical e-reader is similar to The Paperwhite and Sony Reader, with a slightly tacky back. It’s nice, but the Nook still rules in the field of ergonomics. One design win is the physical button to activate the screen illumination; it’s at the top of the e-reader next to the power/sleep button. It’s really nice to be able to light the Kobo up without having to mess with on-screen menus.
Like the Paperwhite, however, Kobo’s Glo has no page-turn buttons. The Nook does, and it’s one of the device’s best features. It’s something I personally want on all e-readers, whether they light up or not.”
—Roberto Baldwin, Wired ( 11/2/2012)
“With impressive specs, the Nexus 10 seems like a special tablet, at least on paper.
When put through a real-world test, Google’s latest tablet performed well for the price but not enough to brag about to friends.”
—Salvador Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times (11/3/2012)
“So long, iPad 3. We’ve had a fun time these past eight months and I’m sorry to see you go. With your Retina display and speedy A5X processor, you’ve served me well. And it’s not you; it’s me. See, almost two years ago, I dumped the first iPad model in favor of a smaller model. Even though you trounce the new iPad mini on some specs, portability is pretty high on my list of desired features and, well—as I said in January 2011—size matters.”
–Kevin C. Tofel, GigOM (11/6/2012)
“Yes, the iPad mini starts at $329 while the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD each offer $199 price tags. Apple can make a good case that the higher cost of the mini buys you that lighter, thinner design, two cameras instead of one and a superior selection of tablet apps. (It can’t readily justify charging twice as much for a storage upgrade.)
But set those prices aside and think of how you’d actually use a tablet. If your answers revolve around reading, whether on the Web or in e-books, the Nexus 7 should be your first choice. If apps outrank text, go with the iPad mini.”
—Rob Pegoraro, CNN Money (11/ 7/2012)
“At the end of the day, which eReader you choose will really depend on several factors. Price is one, to be sure, but you’ll also want to think about size, backlighting, and the ecosystem. Whatever the case, it’s a good time to be a consumer, because we are offered a lot more choice than when the original Kindle was the be-all and end-all of e-book readers.”
—Michael Kwan, Mobile Magazine (11/22/2012)
“I hope you Apple Geniuses are up to snuff because I’m pretty sure my iPad’s busted. No matter how much I use it to check email, surf the web, or tag photos on Facebook, I’m still gnawed at by a horrifying emptiness that no amount of fiddling with your magical gadget can fill.
Is it too much to ask that the mere act of owning your products fill me with utter, unbroken contentment? I think not.”
—Sam Weiner, McSweeney’s