Let it Snow iPads: The Tablet Invasion Has Begun

Comparing three of these sleek, stylish, and splurge-giftable things.

Paul writes periodic travel and tech articles on Dappered.com. Follow his travel blog, drivinginertia.com, to read more about his other adventures.

If you don’t want a tablet, you’ve really missed out on a lot of expensive, targeted advertising lately. Everybody wants one. Why don’t you? Haven’t you seen the billboards and the display ads? Come on, you know you want one.

But first, let’s talk budget. Do you get a lot of $500 presents every year? If yes, can I join your family? I’d love a new iPad (the undisputed king of the tablets) or even a Surface tablet. I’d take either as a gift … but I don’t think I’ll receive either this year. $500 is way generous – like mobster favor generous. And I’d never ask somebody to be that generous during the expensive holiday season, much less to direct that generosity towards me. Couldn’t do it. Won’t be asking for either. But there are alternatives.

A couple inches smaller than an iPad.

A couple inches smaller than an iPad.

The iPad Mini ($330)

For $170 less than its full-sized brother, the iPad Mini is a bit of a deal. It’s not the cheapest Apple tablet (that’s the iPad Mini-Mini, the iPod Touch, $200), but $170 is a good chunk of savings. If you really want a larger-than-iPod, cheaper-than-iPad Apple tablet, this is what to ask for. You’re not going to bankrupt Santa.

But unlike its full-sized brother, there are compromises other than cost that you’ll have to deal with. Quibbles, really. While, it is super thin and sexy and cool, its thinness makes it a bit cumbersome to hold. It’s so easy to accidentally touch the sides of the touchscreen that Apple had to create a software fix to ignore those touch mistakes. Thing’s just too wide IMO. Others complain that the screen should have more pixels in it. Sigh. That’s going a little far for me. But if somebody else is buying, I’d be happy to receive it as a gift. And if you’re predisposed to like Apple products (Yaniel), you’ll love it. But then there’s iTunes and Apple Maps, but I won’t get into those.

Wallet and Amazon-friendly.

Wallet and Amazon-friendly.

The Big Kindle Fire ($300)

$30 south of the iPad Mini sits the big Kindle Fire, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″. It’s got a bigger screen than the iPad Mini, the screen has more pixels, and it comes with the Kindle lending library. It’s got a different set of compromises — Amazon has really locked the thing down, for example — but if you’re an Amazon guy, a Prime member, a one-click shopper, this is the tablet to get.

The Nexus 7 ($200)

Meanwhile, in the Android universe, there’s a $200 tablet that pretty much everybody loves, sometimes to their surprise. Google’s Nexus 7 is on my Christmas list. I want one. Badly.

Insert witty Android caption here.

Insert witty Android caption here.

First, the thing’s just less expensive. I feel comfortable asking for a $200 present. I do not feel comfortable asking for a $330 present. Those Lexus commercials always blow my mind this time of the year … a Lexus present? Are you kidding me? (Full disclosure: If you want to buy me a $300 present, get me a Nexus 4. Better yet, get me a Nexus 7 and donate the $130 you save to charity.)

Secondly, the thing just rocks. “The Google Nexus 7 … is the best small tablet available today.” “The Nexus 7 is still the best small tablet you can buy.” “This is the best Android tablet for less than $200 … ” And you get Google Maps. And you can drag-and-drop music onto it. It’s a very good tablet at an amazing price.

Of course, there are more options. I’m still a big fan of the other Kindle Fire(s) (the original is now $159, the 7″ HD is $199). Nook fans really like the new Nook tablets. You can’t really go wrong. The first tablet you buy just isn’t going to be the last tablet you buy. Whatever is on your coffee table this year will move to your bedside table next year and will move to the bathroom the year after that. Tablets are going to invade your home. Watch out. Ye be warned.

The invasion has begun. Santa’s in on it. Which one do you want?

Photo hat-tip.