The iPad Mini

Amazon ruled the holiday season last year with the affordable Kindle Fire. This year the Kindle Fire HD is their new product, but it faces tough competition from the Google Nexus 7 and the Nook HD. Another wild card thrown into the mix is the iPad Mini. At 9 (US), it clocks in with a far greater price tag than the competition—but it’s an iPad. Will that make it steal the season? Read on to see how its specs match up against the Kindle Fire HD.

Starting with the dimensions and feel of the device, iPad gets the edge. The height and width are similar, but the iPad is significantly slimmer. Also, while the plastic and rubber Kindle is easy to grip, the black and white versions of the iPad are much more stylish. The iPad is also the lighter device, but both weigh so little, it makes the difference negligible.

Just going straight up by the numbers, the Kindle shockingly beats out the iPad in the display category. Apple is used to being on top here, but when Amazon says HD, they mean it. You get nearly an extra inch of display from the iPad—216 (Kindle) verses 164 (iPad) pixels per inch puts Amazon on top.

In processing power, the Kindle wins again with a 1.2GHz chip versus the 1.0 in the iPad. It’s a small difference and both tablets should be fine, but the Nexus beats them both soundly here since both are dual core. The Kindle Fire HD, however, has a likely edge in RAM over the iPad with 1 GB versus an expect 512 MB (which explains why Apple is being quiet on this topic).

Memory gives the advantage to iPad with a 64 GB model available, but you will definitely pay for it. The same is true about the 3G/LTE model iPad. Kindle is only wifi right now, but an 8.9 inch 4G Kindle Fire is due out soon.

Battery life is comparable on the two. iPad gives you the edge in cameras since the Kindle doesn’t have a front facing camera (believe it or not, that is probably the biggest advantage of the iPad overall). The other big victory for the iPad is that it has a huge app store, but the Kindle app store isn’t bad either.

The verdict: If you want a sleeker looking device with somewhat better software, the iPad is for you. If you want the nicer display with a far smaller price tag then the Kindle Fire HD wins out hands down. Sorry Apple, maybe next year.