For as long as tablets have been a thing, the devices have ranged across a spectrum of sizes, from a too-massive 13 inches down to a dubious not-quite-sure-if-this-is-a-tablet 5 inches. Most manufacturers aren't even ashamed of the fractional inches attached to the screen size, to the point that such fractionals are sometimes included proudly in the tablet's name.
As the segment matures, though, we're seeing two sweet spots emerge: 9 to 10 inches, the size of the market-leading iPad, and 7 to 8 inch tablets. Manufacturers have been strangely attached to the 7-inch form factor, churning out one after another despite marked consumer disinterest. The 7-inch Kindle Fire stirred a few would-be tablet owners to make the jump, no doubt helped along by the relatively modest $199.99 price tag. Google's Nexus 7
was even more impressive for the same price, and while it hasn't met the gangbuster sales of the iPad, it's putting up solid numbers.
The 7-inch segment hobbled along for some time, but two very
competent entries have now landed, spaced only a few months apart. Now that companies can fit some decently powerful guts into the 7-inch form factor, the 10-inch tablet may fade away as the more portable 7-inch gains traction through its size and affordability. But until the two sizes have had at least a full holiday season to duke it out, we consumers will have to choose using only our wits and instincts. Below, we compare the two sizes on a number of criteria, many of them task-based, to determine which form factor is optimal for each.
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