The last couple weeks since the end of August 2012 have seen a flurry of annoucements for new tablets, hence the title of this post. The tail-end of August, Sony annouced the Xperia Tablet S, a quad-core upgrade to the Tablet S1 from 2011. I own that particular tablet in a 16GB Wifi only configuration and can confirm it’s a great device.

The new version offers the afore-mentioned core upgrade (from two to four) an HDMI-out port and reduced thickness. The proprietary power connector remains, which irks me somewhat as a spare power supply for the S1 costs around £30. Anyway, the Xperia Tab looks great though the extra bells and whistles might not be worth the upgrade if you already own the original S1. How many of us use our tablets for HDMI viewing when the device already has the ability to ‘throw’ HD media to other DLNA-compliant devices? It’s a nice touch but might not get used much, particularly if you don’t get the magic cable required in the box – and there is strong possibility this might happen *coughs* cheapskates *coughs*.

Creeping up quietly behind the Japanese juggernaught is the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. Being perfectly honest I’d paid very little attention to Amazon devices, other than a Kindle purchased for a relative, as I didn’t see what the shopping giant could bring to the tablet market. How wrong I was.

Priced between £159 and £299 for the 16GB and 32GB models respectively, the Kindle Fire HD offers a 720p screen, dual antenna wifi (faster than any other machine, apparently), dual core processing and other bits and bobs that make this budget model far more premium than it should be, especially for sub-£200 models. The only thing that bothers me is the device runs on a ‘heavily modified’ version of Ice Cream Sandwich. Coming from Sony devices, where the modified UI can cause delays in updating software I am wary of this, but not to a point where I wouldn’t buy one.

Besides, if you pick up this summer’s other other popular tab, the Google Nexus 7, you don’t need to wait for ICS to be updated as its already running Jelly Bean 4.1.1 out the box! The Nexus 7 sports a very, very similar screen to the Fire HD but chucks in quad-core processing and NFC to sweeten the deal. Nice. Souring things ever so slightly, the Nexus only has options of 8GB and 16GB available and without an SD port to expand memory things can get a little tight, though the option of USB On-The-Go is available instead. I’ll talk more about the Nexus 7 in a future post, no doubt!

I’m considering changing my Sony S1 for one of these two machines, but choosing between the two is proving very difficult; the Kindle Fire HD has excellent sound and superfast wifi, but is potentially weighed down by a customised OS. The Nexus 7 has quad-core processing and a slightly better screen, but doesn’t have the built-in memory options like the Fire. In fact, neither device can accept an SD card, which is a real pity as these devices would piddle all over tablets twice the price if they had that feature. Ever forwards though and with a 3G version of the Nexus 7 rumoured, perhaps the hardware jiggle will make room for the SD slot. Who knows?!

Looks like I might be staying with the S1 then, though don’t rule out me acquiring a Nexus 7 at some point…that is unless the much-rumoured iPad Mini can offer something better…


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