UPDATED: Tablet Buying Guide: Comparing Major Brands, Specs & Prices

UPDATED 11/6: We’ve added Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablets. For more on the Nook, go here.

UPDATED 10/31: We’ve added Google’s new Nexus 10 tablet to the chart. For more on the Nexus 10, go here.

It may be impossible for us to pick a tablet for you. After all, personal preferences and needs account for a lot when it comes to gadgets. But we can at least help you know what’s out there! There’s a ton of different choices, so we’ve broken out the specs on some of leading tablets (including Kindle, iPad, Surface and Nexus)  to help you compare and contrast.  Plus we’ll be updating this chart as more devices are released.

A few things to consider as you look at the chart below:

– What size tablet would be the most useful for you? When and where will you use the device most often?
– Is cellular connectivity important to you? There’s a significant price hike on devices with 3G and 4G LTE capabilities (they all include WiFi).
– We’ve listed the base prices below. Upgrades for additional storage or in the case of Kindle, devices without ads, will cost more.
– Pixels per Inch is a good guide to display quality, but quality is also affected by things like contrast and illumination. If this is a big concern, we recommend trying a device in person.

Are we missing a tablet you’re considering purchasing? Have more questions? Let us know in the comments!

tablet comparison chart buying guide
Questions? Let us know in the comments!


Google’s New Nexus 4 Phone, Nexus 10 Tablet Announced Today

Turns out, Google isn’t going to let a little thing like the worst meteorological event of the last 80 years keep them down. Nope, even though they were forced to cancel their big event in NYC today, we still get find out all about their new devices, the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 10.

Google Nexus 10
The new Google Nexus 10, a 10″ tablet designed to compete with the full-size iPad

It’s a little confusing how many devices are named the Nexus, so let’s recap for a second. The Nexus is a product line of hardware designed by Google for Android. It comes it 3 sizes: smartphone, 7″ tablet & 10″ tablet. The Nexus 7 is the 7″ tablet that’s been out for a few months (you can watch our hands-on review of the device here). The Nexus 4 is Google’s newest smartphone, and the Nexus 10 is the 10″ tablet (see what they did there?). So in other words the numbers indicate how big the device is, more or less, and not a sequential progression of newer devices.

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Tablet Roundup: We Talk iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Microsoft Surface & More

iPad Mini Mockup by 9to5mac

This is going to be a big week for tech. Huge, even. This week the big guys (Apple, Microsoft, Google) make some of their biggest announcements of the year about devices, all in an effort to get us psyched for the holiday gift-buying season. We’re going to take this (special) occasion to talk in-depth about tablets all week, and compare the features and prices of the leading models that will be out this fall/winter.

Tuesday is the big Apple event, where we expect to see the announcement of the iPad mini and a couple other product updates. We’ll be liveblogging the whole thing, so sign up for our email newsletter or follow us on Twitter and we’ll remind you to tune in. Will we see an iPad under $300? We’ll just have to wait to find out!

Wednesday we’ll go hands-on with Amazon’s competitor, the Kindle Fire. After all, just because Amazon has already made their big announcements doesn’t mean we should ignore the Fire! After all, a year’s data on the Fire is only $50. That’s crazy cheap!

Thursday there are two huge tech events we’ll be covering: the introduction of Microsoft Surface and Windows 8, plus a mystery event being held by Google. We just found out about the Google event, so we haven’t gotten a chance to do a ton of speculating yet, but don’t be surprised if we meet another Google phone. We’ll also go hands-on with the brand new Microsoft Surface to check out the hardware and see if Windows 8 really is the revolution Microsoft needs.

Friday we’ll take a hands-on review of the Google Nexus, Google’s 7″ tablet that’s only $200. After Tuesday’s event, we’ll have a better idea about how the hardware and price compare to Apple’s latest offerings.

Short version: we’re reviewing the leading tablets this week, including the new ones, so you can figure out which one may be right for you this holiday season. Come back all week for up to date coverage of the major device announcements!

New Google Flight Search Simplifies Finding the Best Fares

Anyone who’s ever tried to book business travel for themselves knows how irritating the process can be. There are way too many sites that promise the best deals, but they can’t all be the best, right? Plus, many of the travel sites’ user experience is less than convenient. It’s too difficult to compare flights, or if your travel dates are flexible, it’s not obvious how to manipulate your search to find the cheapest flight. And let’s not even talk about the popups. Leave it to Google to find a completely bare-bones solution that works incredibly well.

Google Flights‘ strength is in its simplicity. To get started, just put in your departure and arrival cities and travel dates. It’s easy to add additional airports just by clicking on your airport and checking off airports you’d be willing to deal with, and Google shows you whether there’s any savings available by expanding your search before you even check off additional airports.

Google Flight Search
My Google Flight Search. Easy.

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How to Send Free Text Messages Using Gmail and Google Talk

how to send free text messages with Google
In the contact window, click on the bottom right arrow to bring up the SMS option.

Maybe your phone’s dead, or you just haven’t had the heart to upgrade to the unlimited text message plan from your wireless provider. Or maybe cell service is down, and you still need to get in touch with someone asap. Google Talk has been helpful for making phone calls for years, but recently Google launched a service to let you send free text messages too.

The first thing to do is enable SMS. Once you’re logged into Gmail, go to the gear symbol at the top right and select “settings.” From there, choose the “Labs” tab toward the righthand side. The Labs apps should be displayed alphabetically, so scroll down to “SMS,” or just search for SMS in the search bar. Change the radio button to enable, and then scroll down and save your changes. Google’s design sense is a little lacking here, so the save changes button isn’t obvious, but don’t forget it!

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Rumor Roundup: The New Google Nexus by LG

Google Nexus LG Optimus Photo
Leaked photo of the back of the new Google Nexus by LG

Rumors about Google’s new Nexus phone have really started flying in the last couple days! We’re going to round up the rumors, but remember…they’re just rumors! Even if it seems like a sure thing, it’s all still subject to change. One thing is certain though: now is the time for manufacturers to release their new products. Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and probably Google, everybody’s pulling out all the stops in anticipation of the holiday season, even though it seems like it’s too soon!

Lots of sources, including NBC, are reporting that the device will most likely be announced on Monday, October 29. Supposedly the device is modeled after (and fairly closely resembles) the LG Optimus G model. The Optimus G is not available yet in the United States, but it did go on sale in South Korea last month, and boasts some really impressive specs: a quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, 32GB of storage (plus MicroSD expansion), a 13MP camera and a 4.7 inch screen with 1280×720 resolution.

It’s far from certain how exactly the hardware and Android experience will compare from the Optimus G to the Nexus, but it’s definitely worth noting that this is LG’s first real big push into the high-end smartphone market, and expectations (and promises) are high. The Optimus G is LG’s first real attempt to compete with the Galaxy SIII and the iPhone, and comes with the backing of Google. Rumors are also flying that Google has plans to beef up their support staff to deal with an anticipated increase in customer inquiries, presumably from consumers buying the Nexus.

But perhaps the most fun thing to speculate about is leaked product photos, especially the side-by-side comparison with the iPhone 5. The photos are from Tech Onliner, and if you read Russian you’re welcome to go take a look at their original coverage. For the rest of us, we’ll just take a look at the photos below and hold tight till October 29th!

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Google Acquires Wildfire, Plus an Inside Look at Their Biggest Competitors

Google’s acquisition of social media marketing firm Wildfire gives Google inside access to the analytics of some of their biggest competitors, most notably Facebook.Google Acquires Wildfire

Wildfire is social media marketing company with 16,000 customers across a wide variety of brands. Companies use Wildfire to create social assets, like customized Facebook apps, and drive user engagement through social media marketing campaigns. As part of their suite of tools they offer engagement metrics and analytics designed to let marketers optimize their messaging for the best results.

Given that Wildfire has said they will continue to operate just as they always have, that means Google now has access to an unprecedented amount of data about how users engage with brands across social platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and especially Facebook.

To be able to see how consumers use these services is an inside look at how these services work, and a unique vantage point for Google to predict new product developments based on current reactions, success, and feedback. After all, imagine if Facebook could see inside the social graph of Google+: they’d be able to copy what works there, while avoiding obvious pitfalls.

Perhaps this is Google’s strategy to try to beat Facebook at their own game by replicating what works at Facebook within Google+. Or maybe this is a vote of no-confidence in Google+ as executives realize they need to own social and their own network just isn’t going to cut it.  Either way, Google just learned even more about you – and your potential customers.

Tablet Updates: Amazon Updates & Google Predictions

If there’s one thing we can conclude from all the tablet news from around the web this week, it’s that pretty soon we’ll have the widest range of screen sizes yet.

According to Demos Parneros, president of U.S. retail for Staples, Inc., Amazon will be introducing five or six tablet items, one of which will be a 10 inch model. There is no word on whether Amazon will retire any of their current e-reader iterations, but the 10″ tablet will almost certainly expand the more comprehensive Amazon Fire model that includes full color and multi-touch.google nexus 7

As Reuters notes, rumors have been swirling about whether Amazon will be entering the Smartphone market. Given that the Galaxy SIII has a 4.8inch screen (only two inches smaller than the Fire!) it seems like a foregone conclusion that Amazon has both the technical know-how and market incentive to launch smartphone as soon as possible. What size will the screen be? No one knows yet, but it’s worth noting that current iPhone 5 rumors peg that screen at a larger 4 inches.

Also competing at the 7inch size is the Google Nexus, the multi-touch tablet available for direct purchase from Google. The smaller 8GB version costs $199, the same price point as the Kindle Fire. But the larger 16GB has sold out at $249.00, with no word from Google as to when the tablet will be back in stock. With that kind of success, it would be a surprise if Google didn’t also expand into other size devices to meet the growing demand for tablet devices.

Google Fiber TV: What You Need to Know

Google Fiber TV has finally launched, and sure, it’s only in Kansas City for now. But don’t expect that to last: Google is coming for your cable provider.

At its most basic, the premise is simple: TV and Internet access from the same provider. It’s the same idea cable companies have been using for years, except the provider here is Google, and they’re promising insanely fast Internet speeds. Specifically, 1000 Mb per second, or 100 times faster than today’s average broadband, with no cap in the amount of data subscribers can use.

Google as an ISP seems like a logical leap. But what does a Google as a TV intermediary look like? Right now, Kansas City residents will receive an HD-compatible set-top box capable of receiving 160 channels (though no ESPN, HBO or Time Warner channels). As part of the monthly TV package, users will also receive a two terabyte drive capable of recording up to 500 hours of HD content, plus a bonus Nexus 7 tablet to serve as a remote.

The complete package (fiber + TV) will run KS  residents $120 a month, while Internet-only service will be $70. That may be more than a typical Comcast, Time Warner or even Verizon ViOS bill, but for unlimited streaming and the opportunity to escape the entrenched cable providers, we’ll be surprised if there aren’t a lot of KS residents who think it’s worth it.

More about Google Fiber.


VIDEO: First Ever Google Nexus 7 Commercial

Not to be outdone by Apple’s new Martin Scorcese commercial, Google has launched their very first ad for the Nexus 7 tablet. Like the Chrome ads of the past, Google’s ad almost walks the line between sentimental and tearjerker. Who knew it was even possible for a an ad to be a tearjerker?

Google Nexus 7

Of course what Google would like you to recognize is that the Nexus 7 is the must-have technology that will put us in touch with our loved ones (and our feelings). But really, is that so different from most commercials, all of which promise to improve our lives in some way? And does it matter? If you want a 7″ tablet, and like what the Google brand represents, perhaps all the commercials are just a distraction anyway.