Are you buying a new 7-inch tablet this holiday season, or hoping to receive one as a gift? Last year the original Kindle Fire sparked the success of the smaller tablet segment. This year there are a number of solid 7-inch tablet options, which is a good thing, but also means you have to weigh your options before choosing one.
The Kindle Fire is new and improved with the Kindle Fire HD, Barnes and Noble has stepped up its game with the Nook HD to go head to head with Kindle Fire, and Google and Apple have both entered the 7-inch tablet fray. Each has its pros and cons.
FixYa, a site with an online community for mobile device issues, has released a report detailing the most common complaints of the leading 7-inch tablets. The report aggregates data from thousands of technical support and troubleshooting inquiries from the FixYa site and its iOS mobile app.
Let’s start with the Kindle Fire HD. The Kindle Fire rode the credibility of the Kindle brand, and a bargain price compared to other tablets to huge success last year. The Kindle Fire HD includes a number of improvements and enhancements over its predecessor, but nearly a third of the complaints about the device revolve around the ads displayed on the lock screen. A quarter of users also report issues with slow multitasking.
The leading complaint for the Nook HD—reported by 30 percent of users—is that the touchscreen display is not responsive enough. One in five Nook HD users also has an issue with poor multitasking, the sound quality of the speakers, or slow performance in general.
The Google Nexus 7 has emerged as a very popular small tablet option, but it’s not without its own issues. Nearly a third of the tech support inquiries are related to problems with system updates. Tied for first at 30 percent, a number of users also have complaints about the display.
The most common “issue” reported for Apple’s iPad Mini isn’t really an issue at all. A quarter of the technical support requests for the iPad Mini relate to the 4:3 aspect ratio according to FixYa. Most other tablets have a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, so the aspect ratio is an issue with the iPad Mini, but it’s a known “feature” of the tablet.
The other top iPad Mini complaints are more valid. Tied at 20 percent each, iPad Mini owners are apparently unhappy with how easily the back plate gets scratched, the display—which is not Retina so it’s inferior to the display on the full-size iPad, and the limited storage capacity. Apple’s iPad and iPad Mini do not have any SD memory card slot or USB port for expanding storage, so you’re stuck with whatever the device has on board.
Granted, none of these reported issues is necessarily a “deal breaker” in and of itself. Without digging deeper into the data, it’s hard to know what the sample size is for each tablet—so we don’t really know the answer to “30 percent of what?”.
There are also other elements to take into consideration when choosing a 7-inch tablet. The Kindle Fire HD is Android-ish, but it uses a unique Amazon fork of the Android OS. The Nook HD runs Android, but it’s heavily modified with a unique Barnes and Noble UI. The Nexus 7 is a pure Android tablet, and the iPad Mini is iOS. Your choice of tablet could be dictated by the mobile OS on your smartphone, or which mobile ecosystem you’re already invested in or most comfortable with.
Keep in mind that these aren’t the only four choices out there either. Still, you should at least take a look at the FixYa report so you’re aware of some of the most common issues with each tablet before making a decision.
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Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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