Sure, sure. The tablet market is teeming with options, but are you seriously going to buy Sony's Xperia Tablet Z? Or Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1, the 2014 edition? No, you're not. That's because the tablet market has conveniently divided itself into two distinct product categories, with marquee devices on one side and "budget tablets" (see also: low performing) on the other. Thankfully, the truly great tablets don't cost much more than the wannabes, so you don't have to pay a high price for high-end hardware.
If you're interested is something smaller, you might be looking straight at Google's updated Nexus 7 or Amazon's new Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch model. These tablets lead the 7-inch pack, and they trump Apple's iPad mini (for now). Aside from having a black chassis, the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HDX are nothing alike—and choosing between them is a challenge because their features and software ecosystems are worlds apart. Do you care about open-source software or one-touch customer service? Do you want to purchase all of your media from Google Play or from Amazon? Let's dig in, and figure out which tablet is a better match for your needs.
The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX is smaller than last year's Fire HD, and more compact than the Nexus 7. Its smaller size leaves a bit of extra room in your purse or bag, and it's easy to hold and use one-handed—both important elements to consider in this consume-while-you-commute world. The HDX is noticeably heavier than the Nexus 7, however, and the volume and power buttons are awkwardly placed on the back of the device. The Nexus 7's recessed buttons are no better, though, and both devices seem to have sacrificed comfortable buttons to achieve thinner bodies.
Winner: Tie. Both the Nexus 7 and the Fire HDX are stylish-looking devices with their own little quirks.
Both the Fire HDX and the Nexus 7 have 7-inch, 1080p displays with the same pixel density. Their high-resolution displays and pristine viewing angles make watching videos, perusing the Web, reading ebooks, and playing games on either one a pleasant experience. But the Kindle HDX shows ivory whites and slightly saturated colors, while the Nexus 7 exhibits a bold color palette against a whiter background. Though neither tablet's screen displays a true black, the Kindle makes a much better reading device because of its softer—albeit dimmer—color palette.
Winner: Google Nexus 7. Its colors are more true-to-form than the Kindle HDX, though the Kindle's screen makes ebooks easier to read.
Quad-core processors are already the norm for most top-tier Android tablets, and both the Nexus 7 and HDX have 'em. The Nexus 7 uses a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro with 2GB of RAM—a beefed-up version of the processor in the now-antiquated Nexus 4 phone—while the Fire HDX is fueled by a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 with 2GB of RAM. Both devices are speedier than most of their similar-size rivals; they launch apps and games without any lag, and the Fire HDX's new processor seems to have taken care of the responsiveness problems that plagued its predecessor.
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