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Holiday Shopping Season Brings a Bumper Crop of Tablet Devices

With the rocketing popularity of tablet computers and the wide range of these mobile devices now available to consumers, there’s bound to be something to suit just about any need. Tablets come in an assortment of sizes and price ranges and have different capabilities, so it’s always a good idea to compare options before buying. With the holiday shopping season hitting full swing, let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular devices on the market.

Apple’s iPad

Apple released its fourth-generation iPad in fall 2012. The biggest improvement over the previous version is a faster processor– a nice upgrade considering that the price has stayed steady at $499 for a 16GB model. Two other changes from the previous model include replacing the 30-pin connectors with Lightning connectors and upgrading the front-facing FaceTime camera with HD.

The iPad boasts a 9.7-inch display and weighs in at almost 1.5 pounds.

The iPad mini, meanwhile, features a 7.9-inch display and weighs less than half as much as the regular iPad. Prices start at $329 for the mini.

One of the biggest advantages for Apple’s tablets is the huge selection of media and apps available through iTunes.

Google’s Nexus

The Nexus 7, which also was introduced in 2012, runs on Google’s popular operating system, Android. With prices starting at $199, the Nexus offers great battery life and a sharp 7-inch screen. It has 1GB of RAM and comes with Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth and GPS, among other features.

Apps, games, music and more are available through Google Play. Although Play has made strides in upping its offerings in terms of selection and quality, it hasn’t yet reached the level of iTunes, which boasts a larger selection.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD

The Kindle Fire HD, which Amazon released in 2012, features a 7-inch display, 16GB of memory, a 1.2 GHz processor and wireless and Bluetooth connectivity. There’s also Dolby audio, a front-facing HD camera that can be used for video calls or snapping photographs and free “cloud” storage of Amazon content. Kindle Fire HD prices start at $199.

Amazon tablets also offer access to a massive selection of media, and Amazon Prime members have the added advantage of accessing thousands of movies, TV shows and books.

Microsoft’s New Surface

Microsoft jumped into the tablet market in October 2012 with the release of its Surface RT. Designed to compete with the full-size iPad, the Surface RT has a 10.6-inch display, weighs 1.5 pounds and comes with a $499 price tag. It also features a kickstand and a spill-resistant cover that doubles as a keyboard.

In addition, there’s access to Xbox Music, apps through the Windows store and cloud computing through Microsoft SkyDrive.

In early 2013, Microsoft is expected to launch the Surface Pro, a thicker and heavier tablet which will run the full range of Windows applications and offer double the storage capacity (64GB) of the Surface RT.

Barnes & Noble’s Nook

Barnes & Noble (B&N) has several models of its Nook device on the market, including the Tablet, HD and HD+. The devices run on the Android operating system and primarily use B&N’s storefront to access books, video and other entertainment, with preloaded Nook apps including Pandora, Netflix and Hulu Plus.

The Nook Tablet has a 7-inch display, Wi-Fi, nine hours of battery life for video and free cloud storage. Prices start at $179 for the device, which weighs about 14 ounces.

The Nook HD features a 7-inch high-definition display and weighs about 11 ounces, with prices starting at $199. The HD+ model, which starts at $269, has a 9-inch high-definition screen and more standard memory capacity than the HD model.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Like the Nook, the Samsung Galaxy Tab comes in a variety of models. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 features a 10.1-inch display, 16GB of memory, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology, front- and rear-facing cameras, and an Android operating system. Prices start at $399 for the tablet, which weighs about 1.3 pounds.

There’s access to Samsung Apps and Google Play, and the Samsung Media Hub makes available a massive selection of TV shows and movies.

The Galaxy Tab also comes in 7-inch and 7.7-inch screen models, each of which weighs about 12 ounces.

So, What to Buy?

As with any consumer electronic purchase, one of the most important factors in buying a tablet computer is to consider how the device primarily will be used. Will its main function be for entertainment purposes, such as playing video games, watching movies and browsing the Internet? Or will it mainly serve a business-related purpose for busy professionals on the road?

Beyond considering price, potential buyers also must weigh each device’s ecosystem – the marketplace of media, apps, games and other content that will be compatible with the tablet.

Still, with a growing array of options, tablet buyers should have no difficulty finding the device that best suits their needs.

Author Bio:- This guest post was provided by Dean Vella who writes about mobile marketing trends and topics pertaining to social media training for University Alliance.

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