A Google employee poses with Nexus 7 tablets at a promotional event in Seoul September 27, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)
CNET editors give all three tablets 4 out of 5 stars, but they give a slight edge to the Nexus 7, citing its Android operating system, its large array of games and apps, its fast processor and it's low price.
Amazon users are more in agreement about the Kindle Fire HD, which nets a solid 4 stars across the board, though fewer people have reviewed it.
And the Nexus 7 also clocks in at a consistent 4 stars from Amazon users, even considering the user base is likely more predisposed to the Kindle Fire HD.
While the iPad Mini has the largest screen of the three-7.9 inches compared to the 7-inch screens on the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD, it has the lowest resolution, 1024 by 768 pixels, while both the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD boast 1280 by 800 pixels.
But because of the iPad Mini's larger screen size, movies and games still look good on it. Text is a bit fuzzier, but you can see a little more of a web page or magazine on the iPad Mini.
The iPad Mini has a fast A5 processor, though it's not quite as good as the processor in the regular iPad or the iPhone 5. However, the Nexus 7's Android operating system multitasks better than the iPad Mini, and you have more control over what apps are running. The Kindle HD is good with games, though it has a smaller selection of them than the iPad Mini, and its operating system is basically a dumbed-down version of Android.
Weighing in at 11 ounces, the iPad Mini is the lightest of the bunch. It's also the thinnest, at barely more than a quarter inch thick. The Nexus 7 weighs only an ounce more, though it's almost 40 percent thicker than the iPad Mini. The Kindle Fire HD is the same thickness as the Nexus 7, but it's a full 3 ounces heavier than the iPad Mini.
However, you'll need Apple's proprietary Lightning connector to charge the iPad Mini, or an adapter so you can charge from USB. The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire charge off ubiquitous Micro USB ports.
The iPad wins in stamina, though, with almost 12 hours of continuous playback on a full charge. The Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire still make it nearly 10 hours each, so all three tablets should make it through the day without a recharge.
Apple's AppStore is still the champion for games, movies, music and apps. The Kindle Fire HD gives Amazon members access to InstantView for movies, but the proprietary app selection is new and still quite small. Google's Play Store now carries a wide selection of apps and games, and most third-party developers port their products over to Android as quickly as they can.
But the iPad Mini's screen resolution is the same as the larger iPads, so all the old apps and games can run in their native resolution right out of the box.
The Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD are competitively priced at $199. The iPad Mini, however, is $329, probably more than it's worth.
If everything you own is already Apple and you want to be able to seamlessly integrate your media collection with your new tablet, get the iPad Mini.
If you're an Amazon subscriber and you already have a ton of Kindle books, get the Kindle Fire HD.
But if, like most people, you don't fit into those two categories, the Nexus 7 is probably your best bet.