Apple contender: iPad Mini ($329)
Alternative: Google Nexus 7 ($199)
It's not often the competition makes Apple move first, but how else do you explain the Nexus 7 beating the iPad Mini to the market by about six months?
The Nexus 7 is almost an inch smaller than the iPad Mini at 7 inches, costs less than its competitor and was brought on stage by Apple for the iPad Mini unveiling for a sorority-pledge-week-style teardown. Granted, it doesn't have Apple's Retina screen, but it has a fantastic HD display that lends itself well to games and movies thanks to a quad-core Tegra 3 processor that delivers fast performance and a beautiful and responsive screen.
It's been getting some early competition from the $160 Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) Kindle Fire HD, but the Amazon mini tablet gives buyers a bit more size and bulk than the Nexus 7. Google's also given its tablet a fighting chance by adding TV shows and purchasable movies are welcome to Google Play to compete with Amazon Prime and iTunes offerings.The iPad Mini is a formidable foe, but the Nexus 7's lightweight design and low price are going to be tough to beat in very large, frugal corners of the market.