Things are getting interesting for tablets as we move into the final months of 2013. Although Apple comfortably led the market since the original iPad was announced in 2010, Android is picking up the lead with the arrival of smaller and more affordable options -- so much so that late last year Cupertino decided it was high time to jump on this category, albeit not necessarily worrying about having the lowest price.

In between Google’s Nexus refresh back in July and the rumored launch of new iPads next month, Amazon made their move with two new Kindle Fire HDX tablets that will fight for your holiday dollars. But whereas past devices have focused primarily on value, with mid range internals capable of handling most tablet-centric tasks, this time around the company is pulling the big guns with a couple of high-spec yet still affordable tablets.

We've compiled a comparative table with a handful of what we consider are the best options in the 7- to 9-inch form factor right now. Let’s see how the new Kindle Fire HDX lineup stacks up against the competition.

  Apple iPad mini Kindle Fire
HDX 7
Kindle Fire
HDX 8.9
Google Nexus 7 Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0
Price
(on contract)
$329 - $659 $229 - $424 $379 - $594 $229 - $349 $299
Availability Now October 18 November 7 Now Now
Metascore 84 N/A N/A 86 76
Review More info More info More info Review More info
 
System chip Apple A5 QualComm Snapdragon 800 QualComm Snapdragon 800 Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 Samsung Exynos 4 Dual
CPU Dual core, 1000 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 Quad core, 2200 MHz Quad core, 2200 MHz Quad core, 1500 MHz, Krait Dual core, 1500 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9
GPU PowerVR SGX543MP2 Adreno 330 Adreno 330 Adreno 320 ARM Mali-400 MP4
Display 7.9-inch
IPS LCD
7.0-inch
IPS LCD
8.9-inch
IPS LCD
7.0-inch
IPS LCD
8.0-inch
TFT
Resolution
(PPI)
1024 x 768
(162)
1920 x 1200
(323)
2560 x 1600
(339)
1920 x 1200
(323)
1280 x 800
(189)
RAM 512MB 2GB 2GB 2GB 1.5GB
Front camera 1.2MP 720p 720p 1.2MP 720p
Rear camera 5MP none 8MP 5MP 5MP
Storage 16/32/64GB 16/32/64GB 16/32/64GB 16/32GB 16/32GB
 
Data connection Lightning micro USB micro USB micro USB micro USB
microSD No No No No Yes
Video out $40 adapter -- -- HDMI $40 adapter
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, 3G/4G Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G/4G Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth, GPS,  3G/4G Wi-Fi 802.11n, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G/4G Wi-Fi 802.11n, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G/4G
Sensors Ambient Light, Compass / Magnetometer, Gyroscope, Accelerometer Ambient Light, Gyroscope, Compass / Magnetometer, Accelerometer Ambient Light, Gyroscope, Compass / Magnetometer, Accelerometer Proximity, Ambient Light, Gyroscope, Accelerometer Compass / Magnetometer, Accelerometer
 
Operating System iOS 7 Fire OS 3 Fire OS 3 Android 4.3 Android 4.2
App Store iTunes Amazon Appstore Amazon Appstore Google Play Google Play
Weight 308g-312g 304g 384g 299g 313g
Size 200 x 134.7 x 7.2 mm 186 x 128 x 9.0 mm 231 x 158 x 7.8 mm 200 x 114 x 8.65 mm 209.8 x 123.8 x 7.4 mm
Other Airplay Second Screen, Mayday, Free month of Amazon Prime Second Screen, Mayday, Free month of Amazon Prime    

A few considerations

If all you care about is specs, it shouldn’t be too hard picking out a winner, but keep in mind the iPad is due for an update soon and rumors suggest Microsoft is entering the small tablet space -- though not likely until 2014.

It’s also worth pointing out that when you are buying a tablet you’re buying into a particular ecosystem. In that regard iOS often comes out on top, not because it has the largest app catalog of all (a meaningless metric after a certain threshold) but because high profile apps and games usually launch for Apple’s platform first and sometimes remain exclusive for a while. Android is closing the gap but it’s not quite there yet when it comes to tablet optimized apps. Your mileage may vary depending on what you’ll be using your tablet for.

Making some picks

With that in mind those opting for an iPad are advised to hold out a little longer as Apple is expected to refresh the lineup in October. Otherwise, if you are an Android person, the decision just got a bit tougher.

When Amazon’s Kindle Fire first arrived, the main reason it made waves was because it was better and cheaper than the competition at the time. Google took that advantage away with the Nexus 7, and since then it has released an upgraded version starting at $230. If you’d like a pure Android experience this is a solid choice.

But things are a little different with the new Kindle Fire HDX. Amazon has decided to compete in specs, and at least on paper, it has managed to outclass Google with a faster processor, better graphics and just as much RAM. Throw in 24x7x365 on-device “Mayday” tech support and tight integration with the company’s services, and Amazon makes a compelling case at $230 and even at $380 for the 8.9-inch model.