Small slate lovers have more reason to cheer than ever before, with a quadruplet of top-notch 7-inch tablets to choose from: the Google Nexus 7, Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, the Barnes & Noble Nook HD, and Apple’s new iPad mini. Each brings a lot of positives to the table — especially for the $200 price tag sported by the Android devices — but each also has its share of quirks and annoyances, which are all too often glossed over in favor of the slates’ more favorable aspects.
So what’s the worst each of the tablets have to offer? The gadget gurus over at FixYa dug through data from thousands of troubleshooting complaints to figure out just what grinds the gears of users for each of the top 7-inch slates. Here’s what they found.
- Apple iPad mini – While there were several complaints about an easily scratched backplate, most of the grief for the iPad mini stemmed from the fact that, well, it’s basically just a shrunk-down iPad 2 — which means it isn’t built for media watching as much as other machines. The mini’s 4:3 aspect ratio — opposed to the cinema-friendly 16:9 ratio used by most other tablets — accounted for a full 25 percent of all complaints, while its ho-hum 1024 x 768 screen was a concern in another 20 percent of complaints.
- Google Nexus 7 – Most of the complaints about Google’s flagship tablet, on the other hand, stem from a buggy Android 4.2 update that introduced lag and other usability updates for many FixYa users, with nearly a third of all complaints stemming from this single issue. Another third report running into issues with the screen, ranging from dead pixels to iffy touchscreen detection. Far fewer people complain about the skimpy onboard storage space — an issue Google recently amended with the launch of a 32GB variant — and poor microphone quality.
- Amazon Kindle Fire HD – Amazon says that most people don’t mind the lock screen ads on the Kindle Fire HD, but 30 percent of FixYa complaints beg to differ. Fortunately, if the pitches really bug you, you can always pay $15 to abolish the ads for good. The other major complaints stem from the Fire HD’s somewhat sluggish performance. As we noted in our review, “The Fire HD was slower than the Nexus 7 when performing common tasks.”
- Barnes & Noble Nook HD – Performance complaints rear their head with the Nook HD, as well, with FixYa users reporting disappointment in both “slow overall performance” and “poor multitasking.” We also noted occasional lag in our review, and found that the lack of a dedicated back button made navigating the OS difficult at times. Poor touchscreen response is the most frequent complaint, however, while others find the speaker quality lackluster. We’re guessing that has more to do with sheer decibels than actual quality, as the Nook HD’s audio actually sounds very accurate — it just doesn’t get loud.
All that being said, don’t let the doom-and-gloom fool you! Each of these 7-inch slates are nevertheless top-notch tablets in their own right, with all four receiving a four-star rating from Laptop. Even the flaws aren’t killers; FixYa notes that the iPad mini’s woes “rarely led to regret for purchasing the device,” and the site’s full comparison post lists fixes for many of the downsides mentioned above.