Books & Review
Updated: Nov 24, 2012 02:36 PM EST

nexus 7

(Photo: Reuters. The Nexus 7 is one best reviewed tablets of all time because this Android device provides a smooth computing experience on the go.)

Google's Nexus 7 and Barnes & Noble's Nook HD tablet are two of the most equally matched tablets in the 7-inch market, but which is best for you? Before you rush to pick up a tablet during the holiday shopping season, follow along for a review of the best features each device has to offer to ease your decision-making.

Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 has become arguably the most popular 7-inch Android tablet. In the latest month of sales, the Nexus 7 sold at a clip of about 1 million per month, according to Asus, which builds the device.

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"Nexus 7 brings you the best of Google-YouTube, Chrome, Gmail, Maps-and all the great content from Google Play in a slim, portable package that fits perfectly in your hand," said Google in its statement.

"To give you more room for all that great content you can now get Nexus 7 with 16GB ($199) or 32GB ($249) of storage. But we also wanted to make this highly portable tablet even more mobile. So we added HSPA+ mobile data. Nexus 7 is now also available with 32GB and HSPA+ mobile ($299), which can operate on more than 200 GSM providers worldwide, including AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S."

According to CNET, "The Nexus 7 features a sharp screen, a comfortable design, and great battery life at a low starting price. Android 4.2 adds some welcome and useful features." The only downsides are "Android still needs more tablet-optimized apps, newer games have frame rate issues, and HSPA+ speeds seem particularly location-dependent," But, overall, "With its excellent design, useful software features, and low starting price, the Nexus 7 is the cheapest way to experience the best that the Android OS has to offer... [it's] still the best small tablet" said CNET.

Specs

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean OS; Multi-Touch 7" Backlit IPS Display; 1280 x 800 Native Resolution (216 ppi); 1.2GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-Core CPU; Internal 1GB of RAM & 32GB Storage; 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth & 4G; Scratch-Resistant Corning Glass Screen; Micro-USB Port, Docking Port, Audio Jack; G-Sensor, Gyroscope, GPS, Light Sensor; 1.2MP Webcam, Stereo Speakers, Dual Mics

The Nexus 7 runs Android 4.2 which is only found on a handful of devices at this point, such as the Galaxy Nexus handsets, like the newly released LG-branded Nexus 4 smartphone from Google, as well as Nexus10. The version shares its Jelly Bean codename with Android 4.1, and offers only minor differences compared to that iteration, chiefly the addition of 'Gesture Typing' and a 360-degree panorama feature for the camera app.

Launched only weeks ago, the Android Jelly Bean 4.2 update has seen the sort of bugs that usually accompany updating an operating system. Based on anecdotal evidence, Nexus 7 tablet users look to be experiencing the bulk of the issues right now. The most common problem looks to be the random rebooting, although other problems include abrupt disruption of the Wi-Fi, sudden closure of applications, disabling of the screen rotation, brightness fluctuations, and more. Google is said to currently be working to fix the issues.

Price

16GB for $199 and 32GB for $249; available in the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Canada and Japan, and also through our retail partners Gamestop, Office Depot, Office Max, Staples and Walmart.

Nook HD

In its review of the tablet, tech site The Verge thought the Nook HD was a tremendous improvement over past versions of the tablet and thinks it's the first offering form Barnes & Noble that truly coalesces the qualities of great e-readers with media consumption devices.

"Not only has the company improved the hardware, it's plugged the holes in its content universe. The tablet connects to the new Nook Video store, and integrates with Ultraviolet so you get digital copies of movies you purchase in Walmart and elsewhere. It also has a new version of the Nook OS, a bunch of new features, and plenty of magazines, books, and catalogs to read."

"Amazon's tablets are increasingly less about reading, and more about watching movies, browsing the web, and generally being like the iPad. The Nook HD, on the other hand, is still a reading device through and through. It's a minimalist, simple device, but it still manages to be unique in a way few other tablets are. Other tablets like, say, the Kindle Fire HD."

USA Today similarly touted the device's capabilities as an e-reader, and lauded its screen quality as easily better than Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, and Google's Nexus 7. "Boasts a superb display compared with its main smaller-screen competition," said the newspaper.

USA Today continued: "Barnes & Noble boasts a compelling lineup of children's content, with 35,000 chapter books and approximately 4,000 interactive kids picture books. A read-and-record feature lets parents or grandparents record themselves reading to Junior."

Compared to the Kindle Fire HD, "The device weighs slightly more than 11 ounces, making it almost 3 ounces lighter than the Kindle Fire HD. There are no ads, as on the Kindle. Nook HD comes with a power adapter, which Amazon leaves out. At the entry $199 price, Kindle Fire HD gives you 16GB of storage compared with 8GB on the Nook HD. But the latter includes microSD expansion that the Kindle does not have."

Similarly, BusinessInsider touted the device's e-reading capabilities. The site thought the device was an exquisite e-reader with a screen unparalleled in the 7-inch tablet market, and loved its custom-built version of the Android operating system.

"If you're a reader first, absolutely [buy it]," said BusinessInsider. "The Nook HD is one of very few devices that seems legitimately designed first and foremost to have the best reading experience possible.

Barnes & Noble Nook HD specs

Network

Wi-Fi

OS

Custom software over Android 4.0

CPU

1.3-GHz dual-core TI OMAP processor

Screen

7-inch 1440×900 (243ppi) IPS LCD

RAM

1GB

Storage

8GB or 16GB + up to 64GB microSD

Camera

None

Battery

4,050 mAh

Price

$199/8GB or $229/16GB

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