NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Halloween trick-or-treating is always a mixed bag (or pillowcase). Sometimes you luck out and get a whole candy bar; other times you get the house giving out pennies and raisins.It works kind of the same way in the tech world. Some years the kindly folks in the big Silicon Valley mansions give consumers treats so incredible that they talk about them for seasons on end. Sometime they open their big, old-growth doors and dole out stuff so cheap or pointless that it makes you want to come back with eggs, toilet paper and flaming bags of something awfully unpleasant. Leading up to this Halloween, tech consumers and investors have received a little of each extreme from tech companies. With those mixed results starting to show up in those companies' earnings, maybe it's about time to sort through the bag and figure out with products were the sweetest in 2012 and which were potentially toxic to consumers and companies alike: Treat
Google's (GOOG) Nexus 7 Tablet
Legal wrangling between this tablet's manufacturer, Samsung, and Apple ( AAPL) held up this device's release, but the wait was well worth it for Android fans and Apple detractors. The Nexus 7, at 7 inches, is smaller than the recently announced iPad Mini. At $200, it's also much less expensive than its $330 competitor. Its HD display is great for games and movies, its Tegra 3 processor is built for speed and its mere presence is an affront to Apple and its followers. Think that's an overstatement? We weren't the ones who took time out of the iPad Mini launch presentation to bring the Nexus 7 onstage and tear it down like a would-be sorority sister during pledge week. We don't remember the Motorola ( MMI) Xoom or BlackBerry ( RIMM) Playbook getting that kind of rough treatment from Apple, or even acknowledgement. You mad, Tim? Treat
Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire HD
It hasn't been a great quarter for Amazon. The company took its first loss in nine years, it's not optimistic about next quarter and it has analysts grumbling. It did manage to score one big win in the past three months, though. Despite Apple's assertion that 7-inch tablets aren't a good idea -- a claim not at all rooted in Apple's decision to make one 0.9 inches bigger -- Amazon's Kindle Fire HD not only got the first Consumer Reports recommendation for a 7-inch tablet but scored its first thumbs-up for a tablet costing $200 or less. Considering that figure gets you an iPod Touch in Apple world, that's a victory Amazon and consumers should feel good crowing about.