December 07, 2012, 3:17 PM — The iPad mini and the Google Nexus 7 aren't the only 7-inch tablets on the market, but right now they're the two that matter most: More buyers will be looking at those two models this holiday season than at any others, by a fair margin.
Its hard -- perhaps impossible -- to compare them objectively; you cant just compare the specs. You have to use them to truly appreciate their differences. That's why we asked Macworld senior editor Christopher Breen and TechHive senior editor Melissa J. Perenson to have a little debate over the relative merits of Apples and Google's little tablets. Both editors have used both of the tablets, and both experts have definite opinions about whats good and not so good about them. Here's how their conversation went.
Christopher Breen: Reading is one of the primary reasons I use a tablet this size, and to me the iPad minis wider display area4.75 inches versus the Nexus 7s 3.75 inches -- makes it a more pleasurable device for that. In both portrait and landscape orientations, pages feel more natural and readable. The Nexus 7s display seems too narrow, as if I'm reading a tall and skinny page. For reading in landscape mode, pages feel too wide and squashed from top to bottom.
Melissa J. Perenson: I appreciate the extra width of a larger screen too, but only for some specific uses -- games with navigation controls overlaid on top of the action, for example. I actually don't find it better for reading: It feels as if the page is too wide for books at an average font size. However, for large print, the iPad minis extra screen space comes in handy.
CB: Although I like the size of the iPad minis display, I have a hard time acclimating to its resolution, most likely because of my experience with the Retina display on the third-generation iPad. Pixels are evident in all text-based apps -- small text in Web browsers is particularly annoying. My eyes get weary reading books on the thing because of the roughness of the text. Pixel-doubled apps look just awful. However, apps written for Retina displays and larger iPads -- particularly games -- can look pretty good. Photos and videos look quite nice on it, too. And here again, the wider screen makes that media feel less confined.