The tablet revolution began less than three years ago with the debut of the Apple iPad, a notepad-sized slate with a 9.7-inch touchscreen. While the iPad remains the world’s most popular tablet, it now has a number of worthy competitors, many of which are smaller, lighter, and easier to carry. These petite devices have screens that measure between 7 and 8 inches diagonally, and yet offer the same features as their larger brethren, including email, video, music, e-books, and Web browsing. Here’s a roundup of the best of the bunch.
1. Apple iPad mini
The late Steve Jobs once declared 7-inch tablets too tiny to be useful, but the company he cofounded decided otherwise when it saw consumers snapping up smaller slates made by its competitors. The result is the iPad Mini, which does nearly everything its predecessor does, but at a much lower price. The iPad Mini has a 7.9-inch screen that works well for Web browsing and streaming video, although the resolution is surprisingly lower than that of Apple’s 7-inch competitors, which cost $80 to $130 less. The iPad Mini includes optional 4G LTE service, which costs an additional $130 plus a monthly cellular charge. The tablet’s aluminum and glass exterior is sleek and slim—just what you’d expect from Apple. Its front- and rear-facing cameras capture high-definition pictures and video too. Its biggest advantage can be summed up in one word: apps. Apple’s App Store has more than 275,000 programs created for the iPad—a vastly greater selection than what you’ll find in competing app markets from Google, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Priced from $329 for a Wi-Fi model with 16GB of storage to $659 for a Wi-Fi plus cellular unit with 64GB; the iPad Mini is the upscale option in a crowded market.