iPad mini, Galaxy Tab 2 and Nexus 7 are last year's huge tablet items in small packages. Each of these devices has upgrades coming up later in the year. But late adopters don't typically rush to get the latest (also more expensive) product. If you're a newbie to small tablet shopping, here is a quick preview of these 7-to-8 inchers.
Apple iPad mini was sold to millions of users within days after release in November last year. Those who were used to using the heavier and older iPad models have been impressed with how light and slim it is. eBook readers as well as those who frequently use the tablet as a diary-organizer or web browsing tool are particularly happy with the mini's ergonomic form and reliable battery life. Its lack of Retina display technology in the screen is a dealbreaker for many, but other practical users could sacrifice extra screen brilliance for portability and long-lasting battery juice.
iPad mini 4G users in Australia can use the device with Optus/Vodafone/Telstra 2G, Telstra/Voda NextG 3G 850, Optus/Vodafone 3G 900, Optus/Vodafone 3G 2100, Telstra/Optus/Virgin/iiNet 4G. The 16GB 4G variant costs about AU$590.
Asus-manufactured Nexus 7 is Google's flagship 7-in tablet. A device refresh is coming up later this year, but the original product can still compete well with Apple iPad mini. It is much cheaper, too. The 32GB WiFi only variant will you set you back AU$340. (In contrast, the iPad mini 16GB WiFi only costs about AU$420.) You'd want to get the Nexus 7 if you like the Android environment and the quad-core processor sounds good to you.
There are relatively limited apps in the Google Play Store. But it's been said playing games in the Nexus 7 is more enjoyable than in other small tabs, thanks to its 12-core GPU and 1280 x 800 pixels display screen. If you are keen on taking photos with a tablet, however, the Nexus 7 only has a front-facing camera.
In Australia Nexus 7 3G are available with Optus/Vodafone/Telstra 2G, Telstra/Voda NextG 3G 850, Optus/Vodafone 3G 900, Optus/Vodafone 3G 2100. The 3G 32GB variant costs AU$350.
The 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 sports a 1024 x 600 pixels screen display. It packs a dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. It is not likely to run on the upcoming Android 5 Key Lime Pie, but it was already doing fine when it was still shipping with Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich. Among the three tablets here, it is the only one with expandable memory (up to 32GB). The Tab 2 16GB 3G + WiFi variant costs around AU$360.
The recommended networks for the Galaxy Tab 2 include the Optus/Vodafone/Telstra 2G, Telstra/Voda NextG 3G 850, Optus/Vodafone 3G 900, and Optus/Vodafone 3G 2100.
Google Nexus 7 is clearly the cheapest tablet among the three. But Apple iPad mini and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 have some features the N7 lacks, i.e. a rear-facing camera. Tablet shoppers should be able to decide the features they want the most to avoid buyer's remorse in the end.
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