News Column

Dear Mom: iPad, Surface, Kindle or Nexus?

Nov. 26, 2012

Jessica Van Sack


Androids, iPads and Kindles! Oh my! What tablet to purchase as a big-ticket gift for your beloved family member this holiday season? That's the question on so many anxious minds, and my hope is to shed some light on the answer -- which, admittedly, is very often "buy the iPad."

Yet this year, for the first time, Apple has worthy competitors in the market it founded with its game-changing tablet in 2010.

Before I get into that, however, let's go over my one and only "no-no" where tablets are concerned: Do not buy the iPad 2. I repeat, stay away from this outdated, overpriced-at-$399 poor man's Apple tablet. The Nexus 10 is a better offering at the same price, and if you insist upon allegiance to iOS, but you can't spring for the new iPad, buy the iPad mini. It has Siri, more advanced cameras and increased portability.

Now that that's out of the way, here's my take on tablet gift-giving: The new iPad is the default way to go. It's easy and simple. You don't need an owner's manual to use it, making it the perfect intuitive interface for a tech newbie. The picture resolution is excellent, the front and rear cameras are above-par and an endless number of apps are available to occupy your time. So the iPad is the way to go for most, but there are several sub-sets of gift recipients that could benefit from another offering, not to mention that the iPad isn't in everyone's price range. Here's the skinny:

For the bookworm: At $119, Kindle Paperwhite is the right buy. It will last a whopping eight weeks without a battery charge, holds more than 1,000 books and is perfect for reading on the beach or in bed. Supplies are limited, so get to post-haste.

For tweens: The No. 1 question I get asked these days is whether parents should spring for an iPad for their child. Assuming that it's going to bounce around in a backpack and endure other abuses, I recommend Google's $199 Nexus 7, with its rubberized back and screen that's easily handled by smaller paws.

The XBox user & other teens: There are big benefits to fully buying into the Windows ecosystem if you already have a Microsoft gaming device. In fact, it's hard to justify buying anything besides the Microsoft Surface for a person in this category, because it's both a laptop and a tablet. Especially for those high school seniors who are leaving the nest in a few months, it's a huge win that the Surface comes with Microsoft Office. Pricing starts at $499.

The budget-conscious buyer: Amazon and Google have given the world a few worthy $199 tablets: the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7. Both Android-based tablets have a nice selection of apps and I prefer the smaller size to the 10-inch iPad. So it is possible not to break the bank where tablets are concerned. Happy shopping.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) copyright 2012, The Boston Herald

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