Comparing Nook Tablet to Kindle Fire

You just can’t help it these days but notice a lot of stories and focus on budget friendly tablets. Not surprisingly, Apple is not being included in the talk as they hardly can qualify as being “budget friendly”. This whole thing started when Amazon announced their 7″ tablet that revolves around their own digital content services with a friendly price tag of just $199.  One of Amazon’s main competitor in the eBook and eReading business, Barnes & Nobles, wasn’t just going to sit idly by while letting Amazon take all the spotlight. Today, they’ve announced their all new budget tablet called as well, the Nook Tablet. There are many similarities along with differences between these two devices that can make it hard for the consumer to decide. This is a good thing, believe it or not. People need to start having options and need to start thinking about which device best suits their lifestyle. Remember, competition is good for everyone. In this article, I will look at some of the main features of the Nook Tablet in comparison to the Kindle Fire, which I’ve already pre-ordered.

You can find all the information about the new Nook Tablet from there main product website located here.

Pricing and Specs

The Nook Tablet can be yours for the price of $250. This is a $50 price increase to the Kindle Fire. Of course, with the price increase there’s guaranteed to be hardware improvements and whatnot. The Nook Tablet comes in the same 7″ screen flavor as the Kindle Fire but weights .5 ounces less at 14.1 as compared to 14.6. The Nook Tablet however, is a big longer in length than the Kindle Fire being at 8.1″ to just 7.5″ respectively.

The major difference in specs is not mainly in the outer appearance but in the inner guts of the devices. The Nook Tablet also features a dual-core processor. However, it comes equipped with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage whereas the Fire has only 512MB and 8GB, respectively. Another big factor is the Nook Tablet’s included Micro-SD card slot which allows a user to easily expand their local storage with an additional 32GB. The Kindle Fire is missing said Micro-SD slot and is one of the missing feature I am disappointed the most in. A built-in microphone recorder allows you to record your own narration for kid’s book. I am not sure at the moment whether or not you can actually use this microphone for live communications, such as with the Skype app.

As with the Fire, the Nook Tablet also includes only a Wi-fi connection point and so users wanting a 3G experience when they travel will be left out in the dark. The device boosts 11.5 hours of reading or 9 hours of video (wireless off) on a single charge. The Fire includes 8 hours of continuous reading and 7.5 hours of video viewing (wireless off). Please note that the purported battery life estimates is never accurate and usually what you get in real world usage is less. Surprisingly, the Nook Tablet claims to be able to give you a complete battery charge in only 3 hours as opposed to 4 hours on the Fire, even though the latter gives you less total battery time usage.


The Video Content

UPDATE 11/09: Amazon just issued a press release today saying that big name services such as Netflix, Pandora, Twitter and Rhapsody will indeed make their way to the Kindle Fire, day one!

UPDATE 11/11: Amazon just announced that Hulu Plus and ESPN Scorecenter will also be available when you get your Kindle Fire! Having both Netflix and Hulu Plus services on the Fire takes away most competitive advantage of the Nook Tablet.

Nook VideoHaving a faster device is useless if the digital content service that revolves around the device sucks. The Nook Tablet will also run a customized version of the Android operating system just like the Kindle Fire. Barnes & Nobles also have a digital economy similar to that of Amazon and so it is also going the route of revolving their Nook Tablet around their digital content services. However, that’s where the comparison stops. Barnes & Nobles digital economy cannot be compared to that of Amazon. Amazon has their own music store, movie store, eBook store, app store and their unlimited video streaming service for Prime members. B&N have their own eBook store (which also includes magazines) and well, their own app store. That’s pretty much it unless I’m not mistaken. Basically, Amazon has a lot more of their own digital content to offer than B&N. However, B&N does have a trick up its sleeves.

It’s no secret that Amazon wants you to buy their Kindle Fire so that you can buy more “stuff” from them. While both tablets are technically locked into their own respective services, the Nook Tablet is a little more open in the video streaming area. Why? Because they don’t have their own dedicated video streaming service like Amazon does, they have to look elsewhere. Besides, why buy a tablet with a gorgeous looking screen if you’re not going to be streaming movies on it? In the Nook Tablet’s case, B&N “outsourced” this service to Netflix and Hulu. Pre-loaded onto every Nook Tablet are the Netflix and Hulu apps which allow you to stream movies and videos directly onto your tablet. Because these services conflict with Amazon’s own, do not be surprised if none of these apps will be offered on the Kindle Fire, ever.

Here is the big decision you will have to make if you are considering either devices: do you want to pay $79 a year for Amazon’s Prime membership or Netflix’s/Hulu’s $7.99 (equals out to about $96 a year) a month streaming service? If you want the latter, stay away from the Kindle Fire. The only way to help you make this decision easier is if you personally browse through each service’s catalog and see what movies and TV shows are being offered. Personally, I’m not too fond of Amazon Prime’s video library selection. This service was included as a “bonus” to Prime members. Both Netflix’s and Hulu’s streaming services are dedicated in trying to offer you the best selection of content available because that’s what you’re ultimately paying for! But whose to say Amazon won’t catch up in the future?

The App Economy

Nook AppsAs with Amazon’s App store, I am fairly disappointed in what I am seeing inside B&N’s own app store. Both tablets are locked into their own respective app store. Both Amazon and B&N do not allow you access to the open Android Marketplace. As you can already guess, the customized app store by both companies are seriously lacking in apps that I see myself using. I’m going to say this once: when it comes to apps, it’s not about quantity but quality! I don’t care if an app store have 500,000 apps or whatever. Many of them will not even see the light of day. Sad, but its true. What I rather want is you trying to give me the apps that I, along with many other users, would want to use instead.

Here’s the other kicker: B&N app store charges more for apps. For example, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump cost $2.99 from the B&N app store where it’s only $.99 from Amazon. That’s a whopping triple price increase! Now of course this isn’t always the case but it’s not a good sign nonetheless. Why are they doing this? Because it goes back to the whole profit thing. B&N’s main source of digital content profit comes from users purchasing eBooks and apps from their store. These two services can they truly call their own. Because they don’t have as many sources of digital revenue as Amazon, I can see why they are charging more for a popular app but this is not good in the consumers point of view.

Although I’m disappointed with Amazon in the app store department, I still have more faith in them to get things right than B&N simply because of the fact that the former is a larger company. I’m not sure what goes on behind the scenes to secure an app into their own marketplace but both of these companies need to step it up that’s for sure.


This is a big issue for many and one that has a lot to do with whether a tablet has a Micro-SD slot or not. B&N Nook Color (their first attempt at a colored screen eReader/tablet thingy) allowed users to root the device and install the fully open Android operating system that many other Android-based tablets are doing (Samsung Galaxy tablet, for example) instead of being locked into B&N and Amazon’s own customized interface and economy. Doing so allows the user to access the full Android Marketplace and download apps that they couldn’t get from the locked app store of B&N and Amazon. Rooting the device consisted of downloading and installing a modified OS, such as the popular Cyanogen Mod, onto a Micro-SD card, perform some specific procedures to root the device and BAM! The user could then choose between booting the customized OS or back to the default. With the Nook Tablet, many hardcore users are more interested in this tablet over the Kindle Fire simply because of the fact that it has the Micro-SD slot.

The problem with the Kindle Fire in this regard is that it doesn’t have a Micro-SD slot! Amazon openly admits that it doesn’t really care if someone roots a device. They are just making it harder and make no mistake about it, you do so at your own risk . Without the Micro-SD slot, rooting the Kindle Fire is possible as many have said but once done so, it will be very hard if not impossible to uninstall it (feel free to correct me on this). This has issues such as losing your warranty on the device and not being able to access Amazon’s digital content, etc.


All in All…

This competition of deciding who will ultimately dominate the $200-$250 7″ tablet market is getting very interesting. It’s weird to see how so much talk about tablets are in full circulation and for once, the Apple iPads are not hogging the spotlight. If you get right down to it, there is always a place in our hearts (or wallets for that matter) for budget-friendly devices. If these tablets prove to be successful, which I have a good feeling it will, Apple surely will have to counter it. I doubt they will lower the price of the current 10″ iPads but come out with a smaller version similar to that of the Fire and Nook Tablet instead. Who knows huh?

Right now, comparing the Nook Tablet with the Kindle Fire comes down to making a few big decisions and ultimately, sacrifices. If you get the Kindle Fire, you have to be dedicated to the Amazon’s ecosystem to get the most out of the device. Getting the Nook Tablet allows you access to Netflix and Hulu services for video streaming but there’s not much else going on in terms of digital content from B&N themselves. This wouldn’t be a problem if users had free reign over the Android Marketplace but this isn’t the case (as with the Kindle Fire). For an extra $50, you get double the amount of RAM and on-board storage space than the Fire with an included built-in microphone and Micro-SD slot for storage expansion and possible root. Both devices have cloud storage for your content although I’m not sure exactly how Nook Cloud works at the moment. Right now, I’m still betting on the Kindle Fire coming out on top although the Nook Tablet is definitely an enticing device considering it allows you access to two of the biggest video streaming services out there.

Not satisfied with locking yourself down to either of these companies but still want an affordable 7″ tablet? Then you have to take a look at Lenovo’s upcoming Ideapad A1, which runs the Android 2.3 operating system. Another option is the Kobo Vox. Both of these 7″ tablets start at $199 and allows you to use the open Android operating system, not a customized/locked down version such as the one’s included with the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire (although I don’t believe you can access the official marketplace with the Kobo Vox). My best advice is research, research and research some more before you decide to purchase a tablet!
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  1. Interesting, new competition. Looks good and would even promote more new tablets at competitive rates.

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