I've been lucky enough this afternoon to have hold of an iPad Mini, and a Nexus 7 next to each other. However, I've only had them for half an hour, so this comparison will be brief.
Both devices out of the box have a fairly simple method of getting them going. That is of cause as long as you have an Apple ID and a Google ID. Both connected to our school Wifi quickly and once proxy information (yes I am still waiting for a transparent version from my LEA) was complete, both devices were setup and working.
With only a limited amount of time with the devices, this quite review will only be able to cover hardware, and basic software functionality. I may revisit this topic later if I get another opportunity.
Firstly I looked over the whole package. The google Nexus is one of the better built android tablets on the market, but it doesn't compare to the iPad. The iPads aluminium construction and gorilla glass feels like a higher quality device in the hand. Weight wise the Nexus comes in at 340g and the iPad is only 308g despite it's bigger size.
The screens are very different. The Nexus 7 has a seven inch 16:10 screen (1280 x 800) running at 216 points per inch, where as the iPad has a 7.9 inch 4:3 screen (1024 x 768) running at 163 ppi. Some reviews have been disappointed with the iPads screen and suggest a new 'retina' model will be out sooner rather than later.
One of the most important aspects of those screens is the aspect ratio in my opinion. The nexus suffers from its ratio, because of the way android is designed. The home, back and task switcher buttons take up valuable screen space, particularly noticeable when the device is in landscape mode.
The glass on both devices seems as strong, and time will tell how they deal with scratches, but the iPad screen deals better with finger prints.
I opened up the browsers; in my view the single most important application. Side by side I asked both devices to load my website IrritableTech.Co.Uk. Chrome on the nexus automatically requested the mobile site. So after finding the option to 'Request Desktop site' and clearing all the caches, I reloaded my site on both devices.
The nexus was faster at rendering the page, but only by half a second or so. I decided to use the text on my website to decide for myself if the difference in ppi makes a huge difference.
I did think the text was slightly clearer on the nexus, however because of the width of the screen it was also smaller. I had to zoom in a little on both devices to comfortably read the text. On the iPad it was even quicker to press the 'Reader' button, and let the iPad remove everything but the text. A function I couldn't find immediately on the android.
The physical size difference makes the iPad more of a two thumb typing tablet, with the Nexus being more comfortable typing with just the one thumb. Two thumb typing might get easier with practice on the Android.
To further test the screen I opened a picture from my web site, saved it and opened the image in the respective gallery apps.
The image quality looked very similar, but once again, the Nexus' screen ratio meant the standard 4:3 image had black bars down each side when viewing.
I'd love to do further comparisons, but sadly for me my time with these devices is up.
Which is better for our school? I'm still stuck. The apple devices can be managed by us more easily, the number of quality apps is far greater, but the price tag is considerably more.
I think the most important piece of software on a tablet is the browser. There are some fantastic apps, but ultimately I think learning through a browser will outlive any other software. I've found that Chrome is just a little bit better than Safari, but not enough to win the competition outright.
I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially if you've played with these for longer than I have!