A Tablet Comparison for the Holidays

This holiday season is all about tablets for the consumer. Which one should I buy? Who has the best content? Does Best Buy really have its own tablet?

Investors understandably have a lot of questions as well. What effect will the iPad Mini have on Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) margins? Can Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Surface win market share from its rivals? Can the Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS  ) Nook help turnaround that company's lagging fortunes?

In this slideshow, Evan Niu, one of our top tech analysts, provides us with a handy rundown on all of the best tablets in the marketplace. Investors may find this helpful as they try to determine which tablets will be winners over the holidays and beyond.

A Tablet Comparison for the Holidays from The Motley Fool.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2012, at 1:35 PM, pwboston wrote:

    Microsoft Surface has a USB port--can't that be used to connect to cell data, as many of us do with our laptops? That USB port alone allows for more hardware flexibility than many other tablets

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2012, at 10:15 PM, sheldonross wrote:

    Apple's RDF still working well at The Motley Fool I see.

    I see you did manage to mention the higher resolution of the Nexus 10 on the last slide in a small footnote. No mention of how much better resolution/cpu/ram/et al the Kindle and the Nexus 7 are compared to the Ipad mini.

    "Higher build quality" [citation needed]

    You would think an investing website wouldn't need to sink to Apple fandom lows, but I guess not.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2012, at 6:28 AM, toddhartman1a wrote:

    Here's a few new Tablets worth looking at -- released in late November - the Novo 7 Legend is offered through a site called TabletSprint, and may be considere the first worthy "$100 TABLET" from any major brand, with features that include a quality screen display, Micro SD portable storage, Android 4.1, a MicroUSB port, and a processor good enough to handle 3D games -- Plus WiFi, Ethernet and 3G -- For those not familar with the manufacturer, Ainol Electronics, they received a "Best Tablet of the Year" award at CNET Consumer Electronics Show 2012.

    Another new tablet released last week is the Novo 10 Hero and may easily be the best 10-inch "price-performance" tablet available, and features a High Resolution 1280x800 IPS screen, 16GB Memory, a strong Battery and Dual Core processor with Quad Core GPU, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Operating System, Wifi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and an option for 3G/4G connection.

    The Hero also offers a MicroUSB port for connection to printers and other electronic devices, a MicroSD Memory Card slot for unlimited storage (up to 32GB Memory Cards), front and back cameras with a 2 Megapixel rear camera; and has HDMI output, which is a nice feature to download movies and watch in Full 1080p (HD) on to a large screen TV. It also makes a great gaming device with its high resolution screen and motion sensor.

    The site TabletSprint also includes $25 in Bonus Apps with all tablets, and also bundles in free 3G/4G wireless service with 500MB of free data every month with full internet access & VoIP voice calling -- both of these new models and a few others are certainly worth checking out at TabletSprint --

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2012, at 12:54 PM, TMFJoeInvestor wrote:

    Nicely done, John!

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2012, at 1:19 PM, TMFBane wrote:

    @TMFJoeInvestor,

    Thank you! Evan provided all of the outstanding insights, and Dari produced the slides. So, it was truly a collaborative effort.

    We think there are some great devices here. I've been trying to talk myself into (our is it out of?) an iPad Mini, but there are several others on the list that would also be excellent.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2012, at 8:58 PM, wrenchbender57 wrote:

    If you like to play around with techie stuff you can pick up an older HP Touchpad and set it up to dual boot to WebOS and Android. I have mine set up with WebOS and SimpleNerd Butta (ICS). Use it to watch Netflix streaming videos and store movies on it for plane trips. Works great and much less expensive than the $500 plus tablets that look very appealing. My Touchpad has 32 GB of onboard memory. Compare that to any of the newer tablets with that much memory and you are looking at a minimum of $249 from what I have seen. Most of the very inexpensive tablets seem to come with 8 GB of memory. Though some of them do have expansion capabilities.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2012, at 9:54 PM, Foolme2x wrote:

    Curious how the author can hope to be taken seriously when he didn't even include the leading android tablet (Samsung Galaxy Tab) in the comparison.

    Locally, it seems pretty clear that the 7 inch Samsung Tab 2 is the "must have" item this holiday season. It was promoted widely on black friday, sold out quickly and has been out of stock in all local retailers since. It's currently selling on eBay at prices up to $100 above the promotional price of $179 that was offered on black friday.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2012, at 10:33 PM, Hoptopia wrote:

    Should be labeled the latest Chinese gadgets somebody thinks you must have. Get outside and get away from your gadgets once in a while, you'll live longer.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2012, at 10:34 PM, Jurobi wrote:

    I don't need a tablet, got a desktop, a laptop, and a Nook Color e-reader. WHy would I waste the money for something that these do as well if not better.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2012, at 10:44 PM, JJMSpartan wrote:

    The Apple haters are out in full force on this article.

    Look, iPad and iPad mini have one huge advantage over every non-iPad device out there - the iOS App Store. The amount and quality of iPad apps dwarves all other platforms. This is the biggest advantage of the platform, and it's not even close.

    Further, the iPad is pulling away from the competitors. Depending on which survey you read, it has between 70-90% market share globally. Even the reports of Kindle Fire having a 22% market share (in the US only since you cant get it outside the US) are sketchy at best since Amazon never releases sales figures.

    And don't forget to read the reviews of the different tablets before you plunk down good money on one. Try to get a review that points out faults of devices and puts them on a level playing field. Theverge.com has very good reviews in this respect. In any case, buy the tablet that best suits your needs, not the one pushed on you by some yahoo at a website or a blue shirt at Best Buy. Have fun...

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2012, at 8:06 AM, mrphil49 wrote:

    No one talks about the Closed versus the Open Ecosystem? Apple is a lock in K-12 school sales as their iPads can be secured from child access as each local school system decides. Enterprise is new territory for Apple and a closed Eco System (note the Blackberry decade) is what they want. Apple is a more secure system as it is and yet no one has noticed that Apple picked up 2 companies with patents and genius staff that will add fingerprint security to accessing your IOS devices. No hardware needed and that software is coming soon. Wouldn't you prefer a device that can not be opened unless it reads your thumb print when you touch the screen and slide to open access? Think how much this will improve sales as we move to digital credit cards. Innovation is not always in hardware. Can you name any Microsoft hardware that made it so all powerful for 2 decades?

    Phil

    Long Apple

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2012, at 8:25 AM, Xrat wrote:

    Dear JJM,

    Kindle Fire has made it across the pond to the U.K.!

    (Or is that just, little America?)

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2012, at 8:33 AM, mikecart1 wrote:

    Great article although I never have any intention of buying a tablet anytime soon unless I win the lottery and find that I have nothing else to waste money on. Been using the same laptop from 2005 myself even though I'm well off by most standards. I am a retailer's worst nightmare and represent proof that you don't need a new computer every year in order to use one.

    :D

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2012, at 10:40 AM, sheldonross wrote:

    @JJM what surveys are your reading?

    http://bgr.com/2012/12/05/tablet-market-share-2012/

    Latest IDC results put 2012 iOS at 53.8%, Android at 42.7%, and Windows at 2.9%.

    2011 market share was 56.3% for iOS, and 39.8% for Android.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2012, at 12:00 PM, iguanaware wrote:

    I'll take the only one that has MS Office on it.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2012, at 3:17 PM, nvmk wrote:

    There are only 2 Tablets I'd consider

    The iPad / iPad Mini (only for reading the mini)

    and the Nexus 7 (7") or the Galaxy Tab (10").

    The surface is heavy bulky and I can't stand it and unwieldy - and worse part of it is its Microsoft. No apps either.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2012, at 3:22 PM, ryanalexanderson wrote:

    Ok, tablet folks, including TMFBane - a question.

    I am a disgruntled iPad user. I have an earlier generation one, which crashes and hangs a lot of the time. Presumably because the OS updates I am forced to do - and cannot roll back - are too much for my device, which is ancient. Two years old, at least.

    I understand why they do this. Apple won't make any more money off of me unless I buy more iPads and stay current. I have no intention of doing so.

    So my question is: do Android devices have the same drawbacks? I presume that Windows will.

    Thanks, R

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2012, at 4:04 PM, Remoss wrote:

    Tired of those who kept banging on about lack of apps. iOS worshipers said that about android and where are they now? moaning about the same about MS products. Fact is I would go for quality before quantity and that is where I think MS will score... unless you need a toy.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2012, at 4:12 PM, Foolme2x wrote:

    @ ryanalexanderson

    My Android experience is only with phones (although I will buy a 7" Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 in the next two weeks). I had a 2 yr old Galaxy Captivate (Verizon), which I have now passed on to my grandson (he broke his Droid2). One of the automatic OS upgrades on that phone caused it to stop ringing, although it continued to voice announce the calling number and/or vibrate. The techs at the local Verizon store spent half a day trying to fix it to no avail. However, when it was fully wiped & reset for my to switch to my grandson's number, it now rings as it should & works faster, etc with the latest version available for that phone.

    My wife also has a Droid2 & she occasionally complains about the results of automatic OS upgrades, but my grandson never mentioned having a problem with his in that regard. In my wife's case, I think the problems are more things like the icons being ordered differently on the home screen, etc than actual functional problems.

    I got a Samsung Galaxy S3 a couple of weeks ago, & so far haven't really found any fault with it.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2012, at 4:26 PM, ryanalexanderson wrote:

    Thanks, foolme2x - very helpful.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2012, at 4:28 PM, Foolme2x wrote:

    @ mrphil49

    Apparently you've been spending too much time at the punchbowl at your local Apple store.

    My grandson's HP laptop has fingerprint recognition security as does my Android phone.

    One of my sisters-in-law and a couple of my nieces are Apple devotees. I get a highjacked virus carrying email "from" one of them at least a couple of times a week (and rarely ever one from anyone using Windows or Android, because they all get caught be security software at the sender or server level before they get to me).

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2012, at 5:05 PM, bretco wrote:

    so confusin' its almost amusin'

    I just don't get the mass appeal of what looks like

    a vanity toy.

    Is it really worth the time that could be better spent with friends, family, hobbies, relaxation ?

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2012, at 5:21 PM, Fairmead wrote:

    Can you help me? I am English. What is meant by the holiday season? Do you mean Christmas? If so why do you not say so?

    Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2012, at 5:39 PM, tsweeney77 wrote:

    I have a Samsung Galaxy 7.0 Tablet I love it. Costco has them on sale for $189.00 right now. That's a great deal, I paid $454 for mine a year ago when they first came out. I was going to buy a 10.0 Samsung Tablet for my wife, but when I went back to Costco they were sold out of the 10.0 Galaxy, but the did have the NEW Samsung 10.0 NOTE, with a stylus! And quad core! and it cost me $478 but my wife is an artist, with Free Note downloaded she can draw things in color, (one of MANY free Android aps) but listen this new NOTE is the state of the art when it comes to all things Tablet, I love mine for real estate contracts, but the 7.0 is a tad smallish, the 10.0 note is like, Tablet Heaven! since my cell phone and my wireless is free, it really rocks having these killer Samsung Tablets, too bad they won't let me advertise the pyramid scheme so you can get yours free too! maybe they let me for Christmas/ neverpayagainforcellphone dot com.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2012, at 5:45 PM, WineHouse wrote:

    Fairmead -- the "holiday season" includes several different winter holidays, traditions and celebrations, among which are: Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza (a relatively recent "tradition"), and the secular New Year. What they all have in common is a joyous celebration of or involving light during the darkest part of the year in the northern hemisphere.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2012, at 10:59 PM, 48ozhalfgallons wrote:

    bretco, I'm with you, recalling the Barbie doll craze of the '60's.

    Winehouse: The "Holiday Season" holds a different meaning for retail workers.... more similar to Charles Dickens' interpretation.

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2012, at 11:16 PM, wrenchbender57 wrote:

    I agree that a tablet is an electronic item that many really don't "need". I got my HP Touchpad because my old laptop was old, outdated, slow and heavy. But, I really use my Touchpad mainly for trips and watching Netflix streaming video in bed at night. Otherwise I mainly use my desktop PC for most work that I do at home. A PC or laptop is far more efficient and effective, IMO, than a tablet for most work and for surfing the internet. Also, I like the larger screens. But, for a lightweight way to take a computer with me and for viewing videos on the plane, I love my Touchpad for those things.

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2012, at 6:59 AM, xbwe3456 wrote:

    As a more useful alternative to the ipad try looking at the $199 Acer C7 Chromebook recently released or the Samsung A01 Chromebook priced at $240 on many sites. They broke the mold on paying big bucks for notebooks.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2012, at 5:44 AM, tranzloop wrote:

    Not a particularly well informed article, infact rather myopic.

    The main players, Apple, Google and Amazon (Hard to include Microsoft from a tablet perpective - a shame given it was only them and Palm Pilot a few years ago) have provided a nice looking platform with little to seprate them aesthetically on the OS and many beautiful pieces of hardware to compliment. The difference is the business model; whilst all are selling the consumer lovely harware and an attractive OS this is just a mechanism to get the consumer to spend even more on apps and media in the long term which is why they have such sumptuous 'app stores'. There is little to seperate the app stores regarding quality and contect as they all adhere to pretty strict development guidelines. Sure, there'll be the odd app you get in one store and not another, but only in early realeases. Once an app goes mainstream it'll be required (and profitable) on most platforms

    The big difference between them is that Apple still consider it realistic to have a huge price tag for the hardware as their consumers will still pay for it because of the image / branding (most Apple consumers consider the products for the 'arty' or the 'creative' and Android based products 'geeky' and 'inferior'). This is why Apple hardware and, therefore, the company is currently far more profitable that it's direct competitors. Their consumers are paying through the nose for the hardware in the first instance and are then psudo-locked into iTunes which ensures that their users pay an extortionate price for media (unless you know how to jailbreak your unit).

    The next big plus for Apple's business model is that once you've made the plunge into Apple it takes an extremely deturmined user to move to another platform. Most Apple users, in the unlikely event of deciding to switch would need to apply for technical help to do so, which normally provides the somewhat hefty looking straw to take to the camels back. And that assumes that the Apple user is able to swallow the bitter pill of having to face the fact they were stitched up like a kipper because they were naive to the issues and sucked in by the (relative) good looks and the marketing...oh! and having shown all their friends how wonderful their device is which persuaded them to go out and buy one too. Look at it another way, The Apple user considers that the Chateau Lafite should accompany their iProduct use and everyone else would probably open a can of Special Brew.

    To throw a straw pole at this it's worth mentioning that there are 4 tablet devices in my house consisting of me, my wife and two children aged 9 & 10. 3 of the tablets are Android and one is iOS. My kids go for the iPad every time it's available yet it's the most uncomfortable to hold for prolonged periods, it's by far the most expensive, it has the least on it (it only got into the house becase it was a prize), it's the only one that won't stream media across the home network, it's the only one that won't 'talk' to any other device on the network and it has no expansion capability. So why? Ask them and they can't identify why. Question a little further and it soon turns out that it's because all their mates and mates parent's have one and they don't want to look or feel different. Hmmm!

    How long before the world wakes up from Apple's 'smoke and mirrors' marketing is anyones guess and mine would be 'Some Time Yet' as long as Apple keep producing new hardware and continues to make it hard to switch.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2012, at 11:44 AM, jchyndman wrote:

    The best VALUE for a tablet this year is without a doubt the Blackberry PlayBook.It amazing that it is not even mentioned .

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