Apple iPad Mini
Apple's first foray into the seven-inch sized tablet world has been a great success from a product standpoint, with a limited amount of issues reported for the device. With Apple, it's a near certainty you know what you're going to get— a device that may have a higher price point than its competitors, but one that, for the most part, holds it own in feature set match-ups and oftentimes exceeds expectations compared to other devices on the market.
Comfort and business concerns aside – hand size will determine how easy it is to hold and demand is so high that manufacturing cannot keep up – the iPad Mini is essentially a smaller and more portable iPad 2. That means no Retina screen and no real game-changing additions compared to the larger or newer iPad models. It's safe to assume Apple is expecting consumers to gravitate towards the smaller size as the premier reason for buying the device — however, for users who already own a regular sized iPad, FixYans report that the iPad Mini feels like just that: a smaller, more cramped version. In other words, it doesn't appear to be worth the investment if you already own a larger iPad.
Along with the lack of a perspective-changing experience, the iPad Mini does have some issues that trouble consumers. Scratches on the back plate are a common cause for concern, with a minority complaining that their device actually came with some scratches on it. It's uncertain as to whether this was fault of Apple's packaging process or the store to which it was delivered, but nonetheless the tendency for the back plate to easily scratch is a problem that takes away from the aesthetic quality of the device (even if it has zero impact on performance). It is also surprising given the pristine condition of most Apple products when it comes to the unboxing experience – even one scratch can be off putting.
Furthermore, the lack of a 16:9 aspect ratio (a screen's width versus height) for media on the screen (Apple goes with a 4:3 aspect ratio for internet browsing purposes) makes watching movies and television shows not as enjoyable as it would be on other devices. It remains to be seen whether or not consumers watch a large amount of movies or shows on their Mini (the seven-inch screen size is clearly not ideal for this type of experience), but it is a relevant concern nonetheless.
Issues were also reported with the screen quality (users believe it does not match the competitors quality or that of the retina screen on the new iPad), storage space, and other minor issues like Wi-Fi connectivity, App Store cohesion, and others.
Unfortunately for consumers, the most common complaints associated with the iPad Mini are unable to be fixed by consumers looking to find a DIY solution. As mentioned above, the 4:3 aspect ratio is a design decision Apple made that cannot be changed by the user, the screen quality doesn't match that of the Nexus 7, Kindle HD or the full size iPads, and storage space is limited on the device to account for its smaller size (iCloud, Apple's cloud storage service, can help with this), and the back plate scratching issues are similar to the ones that came out when the iPhone 5 was released. In terms of the back plate, both devices have anodized aluminum on the back that makes the device much lighter in size (a feature that consumer report to be excellent), but contributes to the "scratchability" of the back plate.
All in all however, these issues don't appear to be a huge deal for the majority of Fixya users and rarely led to regret for purchasing the device. The fact that the majority of issues are unable to be fixed is both a positive and negative— while Apple has a segment of their user base that would prefer them to make different decisions, the fact that there was a limited amount of usability issues makes this a device that works well in the way that it was intended.
Amazon Kindle Fire HD
It's hard to beat Amazon's price point for the Kindle Fire HD as it is one of the most competitive on the market for the features you receive with the device. Fixya users immensely enjoyed the "beautiful" and "well-done" HD screen that makes watching movies and shows downloaded from the Amazon store a pleasure. Combine that with the low price and storage capabilities that stand above the rest of the competition and you have a very solid tablet, which will appeal to consumers this holiday season and beyond.
However, that price point does come with some strings attached. In order to justify its price point (which as we mentioned is a big benefit to consumers looking to find a powerful yet affordable mini tablet device), Amazon made the decision to load the lock screen with advertisements from their various partners. And while this type of in your face advertising has become a fact of life for many people living in a product-filled society, the fact that it comes paired alongside a device you have already purchased does feel like a bit of a stretch for some users. Users who don't feel like having to stare at advertisements before using the device may find this a tipping point.
Multitasking is also one thing the Kindle Fire HD does poorly— users experienced a significant slowdown when they have multiple pages open in their web browser and wish to do something else with the device. Fixya users report this impacts the general user experience in a negative way.
Typing on the device is also problematic. Whether you're entering in a search term in the store, writing an email, or using the keyboard for something else, the experience isn't always as seamless as it feels like it could be.
Other issues reported for the Kindle Fire HD were apps not being as updated as frequently as other tablet ecosystems and minor problems like Internet connectivity and ease of browsing the app store.
It may not be a DIY fix, but the opportunity is there for consumers to turn off advertisements on the lock screen if they wish to do so. Amazon gives consumers an option of paying $15 to turn off the advertisements on your lock screen.
To turn off lock screed ads, do the following:
- Go to Amazon.com
- Log in to your Amazon account
- Select "Manage Your Devices"
- To the right of the Kindle you wish to remove, locate the "Edit" button next to "Subscribed"
- Click the "Edit" button
- Confirm you wish to pay $15 to remove the lock screen ads
- Click "Unsubscribe" button and remove the ads
Google Nexus 7
Whenever a gadget wins "Gadget of the Year" (as the Nexus 7 did in T3 Magazine's annual awards show), you know it's doing something right. Developed in part between Google and Asus, the Nexus 7 has earned rave reviews from consumers and critics alike, putting it as the top dog in the seven-inch tablet market competition. Up to this point every seven-inch tablet is going to get compared to the Nexus 7— while that may be familiar territory for companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the fact that Apple is no longer the de facto king of a market segment (even if it's just the seven-inch version) is pretty big news within the quickly-changing tech sphere.
However, before heaping too many accolades on the device (and this device does deserve its fair share of accolades), the issues with the Nexus 7 must be noted. After rolling through the majority of 2012 with a very solid user experience, an Android 4.2 system update from Google began to cause a lot of issues for users. These issues include but are not limited to laggy response times when opening applications, decreased performance when multitasking, a worse typing experience, the tablet's screen not registering commands, web browsing taking longer to load, random reboots, and other problems.
As you can probably tell, this update has been a big discussion point on Fixya.
Users have also reported issues with the screen quality. Whether that be dead pixels (not an infrequent issue with LCD-based screens on smartphones and tablets across the market); erratic touch detection problems when typing or touching your screen; or backlight bleeding, the manufacturing processes being utilized with the Nexus 7 are not perfect and can lead to a negative experience for consumers.
Other issues include a lack of storage space (common complaint amongst users for all tablets); poor microphone quality; and other minor issues like charging round out the list.
The biggest issue from a non-hardware standpoint is the 4.2 update that was rolled out to the Nexus 7 in November. As mentioned above, the list of issues that came along with this update make the device touchy and eccentric, breaking what was once an extremely solid user experience.
Users have a multitude of options when attempting to improve the update however. Those options are as follows:
- Turn off your Nexus 7
- Concurrently push the volume down and power button
- Select "Recovery" with the volume selection buttons
- Press volume up and power button concurrently
- Select clear tablet cache
- Your system will now reboot and the issues will be less prominent
Another option for users is to clear some storage memory from the device. It appears that the issues with this update are magnified with a small amount of storage— clearing memory will help in that regard.
The final option is for users to ignore the message to update to 4.2 (for users still running 4.1). It's similar to Apple iPhone customers who have yet to update the new iOS because it removes Google Maps and replaces it with Apple's map app that has come under scrutiny for its poor performance.
B&N Nook HD
The Nook HD might have the best screen on the market, which is slightly ironic considering the roots of the product line are as an e-reader. Don't be fooled by the past however, as this device's screen is something that its owners adore. Coupled with its price point, users who are looking to consume media like movies and shows on a seven-inch tablet would be well suited to pick up a Nook HD.
Unfortunately, speaker quality becomes an when watching movies or television shows. Whether it's some mild crackling or (according to the vast majority of complaints) the extremely quiet speakers that, even at full volume, are barely discernable – users who expect to consume media are recommended to use a pair of headphones with the device.
The Nook HD also has a number of significant issues with its touchscreen and overall performance. Consumers report a large amount of issues in this regard— whether that's laggy response times, trouble multitasking across web browsing and apps, opening applications, switching between applications, selecting items on your screen. Essentially, the Nook HD runs into a lot of problems with basic usability. For a tablet, that's an issue and one that unfortunately seems to overshadow all of the good things about the beautiful HD screen.
When it comes to a bevy of performance issues with touchscreens and response times, there is little users can do to nullify these negative effects. Fortunately, a couple of things can improve performance slightly, but there's no magic bullet here that will make the Nook HD run as well as its competitors.
In order to improve performance of the Nook HD, please do the following:
- Exit apps as soon as you are done using them
- Do not multitask on the device (or keep your multitasking limited)
- Clear browser history, cache, and cookies regularly
- When browsing the web, limit yourself to having three tabs open at one time
- Power off the device periodically
- Download an app like "My App Manager" to see which apps are currently running and close the ones you don't need
- Conserve as much memory as possible by deleting unnecessary items