Issues to avoid when looking for a 7-inch tablet

Just before Christmas PCWorld.com ran a story about buying a seven inch tablet and what to look for. Due to a busy Holiday schedule there wasn’t time to mention it here then…however, now that the New Year is upon us and the Holidays are over, some of you out there might have wanted such a device as a gift, but didn’t receive it. Or, perhaps while visiting friends or at a party or gathering you saw a seven-inch tablet and either decided you wanted one, or maybe just that you wanted to take a look at what all the fuss was about.

A report released last month by fixya.com that detailed problems found in the four most popular seven inch tablets is a good pace to start. The iPad Mini, Amazon Kindle Fire HD, Google Nexus 7 and Barnes & Noble Nook HD are examined briefly in light of the most mentioned consumer complaints. This is an honest and unbiased analysis that is informative and describes the good and bad of each.

Tony Bradley’s aforementioned PCWorld.com article is fairly short. It’s an interpretation of the fixya.com one written for those not as technically minded. Here’s an excerpt from it:

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.

If you’ve already purchased one of these devices or received one as a gift and you’re not happy with it, there’s no need for concern.There’s no shame in choosing a tablet that’s wrong for you, or at best not a good fit. It might have seemed like a great idea at the Holiday gathering or at the store, but since then you’ve had some misgivings. Take this opportunity to review your other choices and make a better decision now.

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