The unwritten rule that you should never talk politics or religion in mixed company may apply to technology as well. This is especially true when the conversation pits an "Apple Head" against an "Everything Else Head." Maybe you just don't want to be a part of the Apple ecosystem or perhaps you can't afford the minimum price of $329 to get your hands on the iPad's smaller alternative. Lucky for you, there are cheaper, and maybe better, options.
Kindle Fire HD 8.9
If you are looking for something smaller than the iPad but bigger than the iPad Mini, look no further. Earlier versions of the Kindle may have been not much more than a convenient way to read an e-book, but the newest version is a complete multimedia experience. With a price tag of $299, users will not see significant price savings, but the Fire's 8.9-inch screen size, faster streaming capability and higher resolution display make the Kindle Fire HD a mini tablet worth considering.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0
With an MSRP of $249.99 and selling for as low as $179.99, this 7-inch tablet is Samsung's answer to the economy tablet market. It is a purely Android tablet (Ice Cream Sandwich, just like the Nook HD) with dual cameras and a host of native apps. CNET reports that the screen is not as sharp, and the cameras are not as high in quality as those in other tablets. Overall, however, this tablet is a worthy and less-expensive alternative.
The Barnes and Noble Nook HD comes in at an impressive $199 price point. As you might expect, this 7-inch tablet lacks many of the bells and whistles that come with pricier tablets, but for those looking for basic functionality without the need for a huge number of apps, this tablet stands up to its competitors. As the lightest 7-inch tablet on the market, the Nook HD is rugged and durable in design but lacks some basic tablet features such as a native music service.
Google Nexus 7
Most reviewers agree that the Google Nexus 7 is the closest competitor to the iPad Mini. With a $199 starting price, that is an impressive feat. Asus has long been in the shadows as a manufacturer of computer components and PCs. This is due to a lack of advertising compared with larger companies such as HP. This tablet, however, has received rave reviews. Its superior battery life, comfortable ergonomic features and sharp screen have caught the eye of critics everywhere. Gesture Type, which is similar to the popular Swype technology, allows for easier and faster typing, and access to tablet settings is much quicker.