Hottest Tablets For Christmas: iPad Air vs. Nexus 7 vs. Kindle Fire HDX vs. Galaxy Note 10.1
There are only a few weeks left until Santa drops down chimneys across the country, leaving behind a trail of soot, cookie crumbs and a bundle of toys.
Kids aren't the only ones who want to play, however. But while Johnny Jr. may be dying for a new set of action figures, Johnny Sr. might be looking for something a little more grown up.
A tablet is a great, universal gift that is sure to appease the toughest gift receivers (those who say, "It's the thought that counts," but don't really mean it) in your family.
There are several tablets to choose from, however. Quality and price vary greatly, which means that gift givers will have to choose carefully before placing one under the tree.
Thus, unless you're buying a gift for a nonconformist, it's safe to assume that an iPad will be well received.
The full-size iPad Air features a Retina Display, the new A7 chip (and M7 co-processor), and a thinner/lighter design. Apple chose to keep the price at $499, allowing shoppers to pick up the latest iPad without having to pay more.
If the full-size iPad is too big or simply too pricey, shoppers could turn to the first-generation iPad Mini ($299) or the iPad Mini with Retina Display ($399). The latter tablet might seem a tad overpriced, especially after learning that its color range is actually lower than the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9".
That said, the mini Retina is selling fairly well. Apple has not released any specific sales figures for the tablet, but the wait times currently stand at five to seven days on Apple.com. This indicates that the product is A) in very short supply, B) in very high demand, or C) both.
Before purchasing the mini Retina, it should be noted that Apple also sells the iPad 2 for $399. Some retailers discounted the two-year-old tablet to $299 over Black Friday and may do so again in the future, making it the most cost-effective full-size iPad available.
Google's (Shrinking) Selection
What happened to the Nexus 10?
This leaves only one new tablet in Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) lineup: the 2013 Nexus 7.
The latest model is a very strong tablet for $229, but it is not an entirely flawless device. Even so, Nexus 7 users will find that it is hard to put down. Once they pick it up, they'll want to use it all day.
Amazon's Growing Collection
This year, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is selling four different tablets, starting with the "new" Kindle Fire HD. Re-released as a cheaper ($139) and slightly modified version of last year's tablet, the Kindle Fire HD is one of the cheapest seven-inch tablets available.
Amazon also introduced the all-new Kindle Fire HDX, a high-powered and high-resolution tablet that was designed to take on the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini.
For those who want a larger tablet, Amazon released the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9". The $379 price tag might seem steep, but the display resolution (2,560 x 1,600), impressive pixel density (339 ppi) and 2.2GHz quad-core processor should be enough to silence most critics.
Last but not least Amazon is selling the 12-month-old Kindle Fire HD 8.9" for $229. The device may be underpowered, but it is a great price for anyone who wants a full-size tablet for less than $250.
Samsung Tablets: Too Many To Choose From?
From the kid edition of the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 to the latest-generation Galaxy Note 10.1, Samsung (OTC: SSNLF) has built a tablet for anyone and everyone.
That was the goal, at least.
In terms of pricing, Samsung offers a product in every range. The standard Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 retails for just $169.99. The slightly larger Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is a bit more expensive, but the $249.99 price tag might be easier to swallow than the one attached to Apple's tablets.
There is a significant price discrepancy between the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 ($359.99) and the Galaxy Note 10.1 - 2014 Edition ($549.99). The latter tablet is $50 more expensive than Apple's iPad Air.
However, the Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with 3GB RAM (versus 1GB in the Galaxy Tab 3), a WQXGA display with 2,560 x 1,600 pixels (versus 1,280 x 800 pixels in the cheaper model), and an 8MP rear-facing camera (versus 3MP in the cheaper Samsung option).
Regardless, shoppers may be baffled by the fact that Samsung is actually charging more than Apple for one of its products. Up until now, Samsung was known as the cheaper alternative company. This tablet changes that perspective.
Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.
Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ
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