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Group test: what's the best mini tablet PC?

The best cheap tablets (sub 8-inch) you can buy in the UK today.

 

Acer Iconia Tab A110 reviewAcer Iconia Tab A110

  • RatingRated 6 out of 10
  • Reviewed on: 8th November 12
  • RRP: £179 inc. VAT

The Acer Iconia Tab A110 is a 7in Android tablet that faces stiff competiton from Google, now that the advertising giant and OS developer puts its name to and subsidises its own 7in tablet.


 

Amazon Kindle Fire HD reviewAmazon Kindle Fire HD

  • RatingRated 7 out of 10
  • Reviewed on: 14th November 12
  • RRP: £159 inc. VAT

The Kindle Fire HD is the first Amazon tablet available in the UK. With its 7in LCD screen, dual-core processor and tempting price.


 

Apple iPad mini reviewApple iPad mini

  • RatingRated 8 out of 10
  • Reviewed on: 09 November 12
  • RRP: £269 inc. VAT

Apple has finally made its move into the smaller tablet market with the iPad mini. The iPad mini has a 7.9-inch screen and many, but not all, of the features that the 9.7-inch iPad has.



Barnes & Noble Nook HDBarnes & Noble Nook HD

  • RatingRated 7 out of 10
  • Reviewed on: 22 November 12
  • RRP: £159 inc. VAT

We can hardly find fault with the hardware, but UK-specific content - including magazines, newspapers, books and apps - is sorely lacking.


 

Fuhu nabi 2Fuhu nabi 2

  • RatingRated 9 out of 10
  • Reviewed on: 23 November 12
  • RRP: £150 inc. VAT

This Etch A Sketch lookalike is an Android-based kids tablet from California-based Fuhu. Packing a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, it's no slouch.


 

Google Nexus 7Google Nexus 7

  • RatingRated 9 out of 10
  • Reviewed on: 16 July 12
  • RRP: £180 inc. VAT

The Nexus 7 is available to starting at the startlingly low price of £159. It's the first device to ship with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and offers a 7in screen and a quad-core processor.


 

What's the best mini tablet PC: How we test

We fully charge each tablet and loop an MP4 movie to test and compare battery life. The volume is set to 50 percent and brightness to 100 percent. Wi-Fi is turned on, but Bluetooth and GPS (where applicable) are disabled. This test also allows us to assess the quality of the screen and speakers. See also Mini tablets buying advice.

We use the SunSpider JavaScript test to compare each tablet’s web-browsing speed (a lower score is better here), and Geekbench for general system performance (a higher score is better). Finally, GLBenchmark’s Egypt HD test allows us to assess the graphics.

We also note the responsiveness and accuracy of the touchscreen with general typing and navigation, especially with text-heavy sites that require more precision when selecting options and clicking links.

In terms of screen quality we inspect the brightness, contrast, colour accuracy, clarity and viewing angles, and make comments in response to our subjective assessment within each review.

We also test each device’s camera(s) by taking pictures and videos in a range of environments, both indoor and outdoor, examining the speed and fidelity of the focus, colour, and audio quality.

What's the best mini tablet PC: Conclusion

Content is king when it comes to tablets. You can have the greatest hardware in the world, but if you can’t download your favourite apps, watch films using your Netflix subscription or buy the e-books you want to read, you will feel frustrated.

The Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD are more limited than Google’s Nexus 7, since they’re unable to access the Google Play app store. The Nook has the least choice of UK content – for now, at least.

The Nexus 7 isn’t perfect, and we’d like it to have a microSD slot, for example, but it gives you all the flexibility of a high-end Android tablet. A cellular version with 32GB of storage is now available, too. The Nexus 7 is well-deserving of our Recommended award.

Like the Nook HD, the nabi 2 has lots of potential. If you’re looking for a kids’ tablet, it’s the best around. It’s in desperate need of anglicising, though, which should happen over the next few months.

If you’ve got more cash to spend, the iPad mini is an obvious choice. However, the relatively low-resolution screen is a niggle, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple launches a Retina version with a faster processor in 2013, so it could be worth waiting.

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