PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If you’re shopping for a tablet this holiday season, you’ve got a ton of choices.
The newest offer great new features and lower prices than ever; but it can be tough to figure out what to get. Do you need to pay a premium or will a just-released, less-expensive tablet suit your needs?
To find out the answer, Consumer Reports tested some of the most popular models for adults and kids including new entries like the Nook HD and HD Plus, the iPad Mini and the Surface, Microsoft’s first tablet.
While the testers found that all the top ones have something to offer, there are big differences.
For example, the $500 Surface has a superb 10-inch screen plus a handy stand, and you can get a cover with a built-in keyboard. However, when it comes to content, Microsoft has a way to go.
“Windows tablets lack access to the big content selection from Apple or the Android Marketplace, or even the Amazon and Barnes & Noble content offerings,” observed Consumer Reports’ Paul Reynolds.
Size is another important consideration. The 7.8-inch iPad Mini is Apple’s first smaller tablet, competing with other small tablets like the Barnes & Noble Nook HD and Kindle Fire HD from Amazon.
Consumer Reports finds in many ways the Mini is every bit as good as the bigger iPads.
The screen offers crisp text, optimal photo viewing and good sound. At $330, the iPad Mini is also light, making it extra portable.
But for $200, Consumer Reports says the Barnes & Noble Nook HD is well worth considering.
Sharp text that fills the seven-inch screen makes reading a pleasure. However, the larger nine-inch Nook HD Plus is a better choice if you’re a magazine lover. It starts at $270.
And if you’re not wild about sharing your tablet with your kids, there’s good news. This year you’ll find a lot more tablets made especially for them.
“This year, we’re seeing tablets with real Android operating systems and features like Wi-Fi and expandable memory. These tablets are not just toys,” says Consumer Reports Carol Mangis.
Consumer Reports evaluated five tablets designed for kids. They cost between $150 and $200.
Testers checked lots of features, including display quality and battery life. But to find out what the real experts say they asked a dozen young testers to play games, read books and create artwork on the tablets.
The children then filled out surveys and answered questions to help the adult testers come up with recommendations.
For bookworms, the Meep! Tablet from Oregon Scientific has the clearest display screen. And if you want to limit your child’s Internet access, parental controls are on all the tablets.
The most extensive for younger kids are on the Meep!, the Kurio 7 and the Nabi 2, which is the one that the kids liked the best. At $200, it has a friendly interface and the longest battery life.
If you’re thinking about buying an extended warranty for a tablet, Consumer Reports says it may not be worth the money.
In a recent survey, only four percent of tablet owners needed repairs.
But if you still want to get one, Consumer Reports says consider less expensive coverage, such as the $28, two-year accidental plan sold at Walmart.