The Surface tablet is the flagship device for Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system. Available in either RT or Pro models (RT only supports Windows 8 applications, while Pro supports older Windows applications in desktop mode), the Surface boasts the largest display (10.6 inches, high definition) of the recent tablet crop. The RT version offers either 32GB or 64GB of onboard storage, while the Pro version offers 64GB or 128GB storage. Both devices have a microSDXC card slot and allow you to add an optional keyboard/cover. The biggest feature about this device, of course, is that it runs Windows 8, the touch-screen enhanced operating system. Download OMC for Windows 8 from the Microsoft Windows Store.
Kindle Fire HD
The new Kindle Fire devices feature improved displays and sound systems, as well as improved Internet speed. You have two display options, 7- or 8.9-inch screen. The 7-inch screen offers 16GB or 32GB of storage, while the 8.9-inch version offers 32GB and 64GB. There’s no option to expand storage via a micro SD card slot; instead Amazon provides access to cloud storage. In addition to support for Kindle books, as an Android tablet, the Fire also enables you to play games, browse the Internet over a 4G or WiFi connection, and best of all, use OverDrive Media Console to read EPUB eBooks and listen to MP3 audiobooks! The enhanced display supports high-definition video and reduces glare, making it easy to get lost in a good eBook. Even at high volumes, the sound system offers excellent clarity, whether you’re watching a movie, listening to music, or escaping with an audiobook.
NOOK HD and HD+
Not to be outdone, Barnes & Noble has updated its NOOK series with lightweight, high-resolution NOOK HD and HD+. The HD features 8GB or 16GB of onboard storage and a 7-inch screen; the HD+ has 16GB or 32GB of onboard storage and a 9-inch screen; both offer micro SD storage slots. The latest NOOK devices, as well as NOOK Tablet and NOOK Color, enable readers to borrow library eBooks and audiobooks wirelessly using OverDrive Media Console.
Apple iPad Mini, iPod touch, iPod nano
The biggest news out of Cupertino, Calif., is Apple’s new iPad Mini. Featuring the same power and performance of the larger iPad, but with a 7.9-inch screen, the iPad Mini looks to compete with Android tablets like the Nexus 7. And like its larger sibling, the full-sized iPad, the Mini will allow you to use OverDrive Media Console to enjoy your ebooks and audiobooks . Apple has also released updated versions of the iPod touch, iPod nano, and iPad. The iPod touch and iPad have some minor tweaks under the hood, and have been updated to use the new Lightning connector, while the iPod nano features a new touch screen.
For parents looking to introduce their kids to the world of tablet computing, there are three tablets geared toward the young’uns – the Nabi, Arnova Child Pad, and MEEP. Each device is a full featured Android tablet—running Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich operating system— with 7-inch screens and kid-friendly form factors designed for smaller hands. The internal storage ranges from 8GB for the Nabi to 4GB on both the Arnova Child Pad and MEEP; each device offers expandable storage via the Micro SD card slot. For content control, the Nabi tablet by Fuhu limits access to the Internet for younger users by using “Mommy Mode” to create a list of accessible sites, making this tablet a good choice for the youngest of users. The Arnova Child Pad offers 6 months of free access to Mobile Parental Filter, likely with the option to purchase the parental filtering suite later. The MEEP tablet has its own parental control, allowing parents to monitor access remotely. And because all three devices run Android, they also give kids access to library eBooks and audiobooks via Overdrive Media Console.
Justin Noszek is a Support Specialist at OverDrive.