Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

May 27, 2017

Amazon's new seven-inch Fire tablet.

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Tablet wars

In case you missed it, there’s a war going on between Amazon and Apple for your e-book and tablet business. Earlier this year, Apple fired the first shot and stopped accepting the full version of Amazon’s popular Kindle books on their mobile devices. iPhones and iPads will now only load the first 30 pages of a Kindle book even if Amazon’s site indicates that it has been sent to your Apple device. Neither company lets you know of the change in policy. If you’ve been used to reading Kindle books on your Apple device, including the popular iPad Mini 2 or the just launched iPad Air 2, you’re out of luck.

Amazon would prefer it, of course, if you purchased one of their tablets to read their books on. In 2011, they launched the Fire tablet line and have been marketing it aggressively ever since. On September 17, the company launched a new seven-inch tablet in the US priced at just US$50, even offering the low-cost device in a family “six pack.” Though it’s clearly not a top-of-the-line tablet, it does have a decent screen and most of the bells and whistles, and it’s selling briskly in the US, the only country in which it’s offered so far. It’s not clear yet when it will come to Canada. In the meantime, you can find out all about it on Amazon’s US site where over 7000 customers have given it four stars out of five.

This latest tablet entry adds confusion to an already crowded market. Portability is what makes tablets popular and many of them have found their way into the pockets of white lab coats. Initially, seven-inch models were the most popular, but of late bigger eight-inch-plus screens have had stronger sales. The newest mini models now have as much technology packed into them as their larger cousins.

So which tablet would work best for a busy practitioner?

Reviewers’ first choice in smaller tablets is almost universally the iPad Mini 2. Launched in 2013, it remains popular despite the arrival of the 3 and, this fall, the Mini 4. The only drawback is price. Canadian BestBuy stores offer the 16-gigabyte model for $321.

When it comes to full-sized tablets the new iPad Air 2 is the model of choice. Says one reviewer reflecting the general consensus: “Everyone else really has their work cut out if the iPad Air 2 is going to be unseated from the number one spot.” At BestBuy the 16-gigabyte version is $541.

Android users rank the 32-gigabyte Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 as their favourite. $500 at BestBuy.

On the other hand, if all you really want is a reader for your Kindle e-books, the six-inch glare-free touchscreen model from Amazon for $80 will do just fine. The new Paperwhite at $140 has a better screen — it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the extra $60.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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