Tablet Wars: Picking a Tablet for the Holidays

By Rob Enderle November 20, 2012

Well it’s that time again, and we are once again up to our armpits in tablets to choose from. Unlike last year when there really was just the iPad and the first Kindle fire, this year there are a number of compelling choices to make, and I’ve had a chance to pound on most of the tablets.  

Here are my thoughts. 

Apple: If someone wants an Apple tablet, I’d suggest that is what you get them. We’ve had a couple of decades to review what has happened when someone asks for an Apple product and gets something else. It generally isn’t pretty, so if Apple products are outside of your budget for a gift, and for a lot of us they are this year, you may want to shift to another gift class you can address more affordably.  

And if you are going to disappoint anyway, far better it be with a $10 pair of shorts than a $200 or $300 tablet they won’t use. 

And you can always get them an Apple gift certificate and let them pay the difference.   


Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Large Tablet

In the large tablet class, the Microsoft Surface product, which I’m using to write this piece, is by far the most capable. It currently has three shortcomings that keep it from being perfect. It doesn’t have all of the apps you may want (missing a VPN and any alternative browsers at the moment), the kickstand isn’t adjustable (but at least it has one), and the full iTunes migration solution isn’t done yet.

However, it is far better than any other large-form tablet on the market and you can actually leave your laptop at home. 

Incredibly light with 10 or so hours of battery life and relatively robust, this product has become my favorite large tablet, and the folks that I know that are using it rave about it.  

Small Tablet (7”)

You have a choice of two here: the Amazon Fire HD or the Google Nexus 7. The Amazon is better for someone who likes things simple or is already a heavy user of Amazon, and the Nexus 7 is for someone who is a bit of a geek and likes things to be a bit more technical, capable and challenging.  

The Nexus is better for games as well, while the Kindle is a better reader (when in native Kindle reader mode).  

Overall, you can’t do badly with either, but I find I personally use the Kindle Fire HD more than the Nexus 7.  

There is a value play here: if you are on a tight budget, the regular Kindle Fire for $40 less is actually a very nice offering, and if you’re buying a lot of these things the $40 will add up. Above all, the newer Kindle is worth the extra $40, so take that into account if you want to impress.  

Everything being equal, I prefer the Kindle Fire HD.

Accessories

On the Microsoft Surface tablet the best accessory is the mechanical keyboard. This not only protects the screen, but provides the best laptop like experience you’ll get from the series. For either the Nexus or Kindle Fire, look for a magnetic cover over one that isn’t. The plain leather covers may not cause the tablet to suspend, leaving the user with far less battery life.  

I’ve tried several of the keyboard cases for the smaller tablets and haven’t yet found one I really like so I’d keep it simple. For the big iPad I’ve always liked the Zag case/keyboard best, but make sure you match the case to the iPad, and when in doubt, go the gift certificate route; that way you won’t have folks questioning our intelligence on Christmas day.

Wrapping Up

Personally I think $200 for a gift is plenty, though for someone that might use the tablet for school, the extra spent on a Surface tablet is likely worth it.  Just remember: the gift certificate route is always safest and I think that’s where I’m drifting this year. Happy hunting!

One of the fascinating stories that came out of the elections had to do with the use of data analytics.   The Obama campaign put in place a well-integrated system two years before the election, and it allowed them to more efficiently get donations, better position their limited assets, and more successfully get the vote out. Romney, on the other hand, outsourced his effort to companies that didn’t work in politics and he was far less successful in all three activities as a result.

EMC’s Joe Tucci has implemented the data analytics they sell to initially better anticipate failures, more recently to maximize customer loyalty, and eventually to optimize the sales process.

In short, had Romney asked Tucci, he would have been nicely told that outsourcing analytics was a bad idea, and if he’d followed that advice soon enough, he should have won. 




Edited by Braden Becker

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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