Mini Tablets Small Screen Wonder Tabs (Part 1)

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Bigger is always better, right? Not anymore. Stuff gets touchy-feely with the best small slates

Last month, we declared Apple’s iPad Air the best tablet money can buy, with only one rival to fear: the iPad Mini with Retina Display. So now that the Mini 2 is here it should shoot straight to the top of the heap with its heftier hermano, right? After all, it shares the Air’s A7 chip and 64-bit processing, it beats it on pixel density and it came up with the whole sleek-and-small-of-bezel build formula before the Air even existed.

But there’s more to this test than a simple ticking of boxes – for one, not all Retina displays are equal. And since the original Mini landed, Google and Amazon have been hard at work themselves, hellbent on perfecting their own micro-tabs. The results? A Kindle Fire tablet rocking some of the finest components available. For R3 700. And the ludicrously portable, equally cheap Nexus 7 joining the exclusive Android KitKat brigade. So can the iPad Mini 2 possibly be worth the extra cash over those two? And is it better than the Air? You’ll find out over the next 5 pages…

Description: Google Nexus 7

Google Nexus 7

The Nexus’ KitKat update leaves its Android rivals in the dust

Google’s own Nexus 7 has been our favorite Android tablet for yonks now, so why are we reviewing it again? Simple: it just got even better.

That’s thanks to the Android 4.4 KitKat update, which makes it run faster and last longer. We’ve never seen Android perform more smoothly on a tablet – moving around the OS is noticeably quicker than it was on 4.3. And though it still slightly lags behind the iPad when used intensively, Google’s eked out more life from the 3950mAh battery, making it a true all-dayer.

Alright, so KitKat isn’t quite the revolution it is on the Nexus 5: you can’t launch voice search with a verbal command, and Google Now doesn’t yet get its own domain.

Description: Google Nexus 7 with apps

Google Nexus 7 with apps

But who cares when everything else here is so good? The 7in/17.7cm, 323ppi screen is razor sharp with good contrast – brilliant for clear and bright photos, movies and games. The matte, rubberized back and curved edges make the design an understated classic and at 8.65mm slim, it’s much svelter than its predecessor. Plus there’s a decent 5MP rear camera with new KitKat features, brilliant, pre-installed Google apps and great speakers. Oh yeah, and that price.

All of which makes the Nexus 7 our top Android tablet. And with a few more tablet-optimized apps, it might even challenge the iPad

Screen Small wonder

The Nexus 7’s display is a beauty – crisp, with excellent contrast, color and viewing angles. But the 7in/17.7cm size is only good for so much. If you want bigger, LG’s gorgeous G Pad 8.3 is our fave 8in/20.3cm ’Droid.

Design Solid gold

The Nexus 7 is a rock and a rock feels no pain. It’s as simple and classy as the Nexus 5 smartphone, wonderfully solid and it doesn’t scratch as easily as the iPad. Plus, it fits snugly in spacious pockets – as do rocks.

Description: the HDX’s chip now trumps the Nexus’ S4 Pro

The HDX’s chip now trumps the Nexus’ S4 Pro

Performance Smoothly does it

Sure, the HDX’s chip now trumps the Nexus’ S4 Pro – but for what purpose?

The Google tab is more versatile, and with KitKat now live it’s slicker than ever, too. No amount of gaming or benchmarking can shock it. We tried.

OS And Apps KitKat of alright

KitKat doesn’t make a big difference to the 7 visually, but it’s still welcome. As well as slight performance enhancements you get new sounds, keyboard tweaks, the Photo Sphere camera app and wireless printing support.


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