The Tablet Factor

The iPad mini and Google Nexus 7 have proven you can craft a quality, affordable tablet around a seven-inch (ish) screen

09 Nov 2012


We've all been watching the X Factor for weeks, gleefully tweeting and texting over the latest spat between judges as yet another wannabe returns to Civvy Street.


But as Tulisa's latest riposte to Gary Barlow fills our living room, attention is starting to wane, for a new breed of mini tablets are battling it out in an X Factor of their own.

The iPad mini and Google Nexus 7 have proven you can craft a quality, affordable tablet around a seven-inch (ish) screen and we've gone as weak at the knees as a teenage girl meeting JLS. The iPad mini has been so popular since its launch Apple said it 'practically sold out' after the first weekend, while the Nexus was reported to be selling a million a month.

But you're only going to buy one, so it's worth getting to know which will most float your boat.

Like the X Factor contestants, each tablet has its own particular strengths. Although Jahmene Douglas can sing the sweetest soul, he'll never deliver his words with the intensity of James Arthur doing his self-proclaimed 'dark thing'. So it is for tablets, well, they don't sing - pained or not, but you get what we're saying. What's right for one person isn't necessarily right for another.

So think of us as your very own Dermot O'Leary as we talk you through what we love about the iPad mini and the Nexus 7. We'll even sling in a few trademark Dermot winces and winks along the way.

I Pad Mini White

Cupertino Cool

No prizes for guessing the iPad mini is the hip one, the indie kid's favourite. It shuffles onto the X Factor stage all understated and sleek, looking cooler than James Arthur in his geek chic specs: a true object of desire. But with design as intuitive as it is hip, this is more than mere style over substance.

Suited to the commuter committed to cool, the iPad is the lightest of the mini tablets. Weighing 308g and measuring 7.2mm thin, it can be slipped into your pocket on the train without making your jacket sag. To on-trend Apple fans, sartorial issues are as important as portability and the powerful A5 processor which ensures your movements on the tablet are as a fluid as a dancer on the X Factor stage.

With 10 hours' battery on one charge, the mini has enough power to get us through the roughest commute; enough endurance to see it through the multiple performances of an X Factor final. Capable of building three hours' battery from 30 minutes' charge it can also find the strength to perform again in the unlikely situation it finds itself in the Sunday night sing-off. Back in the real word - where tablets don't enter talent shows - this also empowers you with smugness next time your other half emits a smug cackle at your failure to charge your tablet before bed.

X Factor contestants often hit the bumper through a lack of diversity - Frankie Cocozza was clearly dedicated to his NVQ in being Rod Stewart circa 1973, however judge Louis Walsh branded the teenager a 'one trick pony'. The iPad mini boasts 275,000 apps and could never be tarred with the 'one trick' brush. With everything from photography to geography there's something for us all. Heck, there's even an X Factor app. If you dream of a career in photography, chasing X Factor hopefuls like Cocozza around town, you're going to love iPhoto, an app which allows you to brush up and edit photos with a stroke of your finger.

Nexus 7 Black

Nexus generation

We could wax lyrical about the iPad mini 'til the cows come home, but there's another tablet we're tipping for success in the final shows - the Google Nexus 7.

If you want to use your tablet mainly for surfing the web and reading e-books the Nexus 7 is for you. Although not quite as thin as the iPad mini it still cuts a dash as Dermot introduces it to the X Factor stage. It even earns a cheeky wink from Nicole as it turns to display its rather fetching driving glove-like rear. The design sits perfectly in one hand, with a slightly wider shape that makes it great for reading e-books. The perimeter of the screen is slightly fatter than the mini too, so your grubby fingers have less chance of straying onto the screen.  

And what a screen it is. With 1200x800 resolution tightly packed into a slimmer display its images are sharper than Jahmene Douglas blasting out the vocal acrobatics, and if you're stuck for something to watch and read you can find plenty to keep you busy at the Google Play store.

If a song gets stuck in your head you can share with friends by clicking your Nexus against another, like magic - or near field communication.

We're getting to the time when Dermot comes in to usher the acts off the stage, but there's something about the Nexus which may suit Mr O'Leary himself. Rushing from his Radio 2 show to the X Factor studios, Dermot is a busy boy - a lot of organising probably goes into that schedule. The Nexus' Android operating system is great for accessing notifications, schedules and emails, helping get you where you need to be when you need to be there.


You've heard the iPad mini and the Nexus 7 sing their hearts out in a bid to impresses the judges and us folk at home. So, which of the devices is for you?

As Dermot would say, 'I'm going to have to push you on this - I need an answer, buddy'. If you can't decide we can always send it to deadlock...