This will be the season for tablets, particularly low cost tablets. And by low cost tablets, we don’t mean the generic Android devices sitting on drug store shelves.
Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are offering a potential Holiday gift for those that can’t fit a pricier iPad and Honeycomb tablet into their budgets. Though the Kindle and NOOK line have been associated with black and white eReaders in the past, the new Kindle Fire and the NOOK Tablet will give users plenty to be excited about. But how do you choose the best one for your needs?
When it comes to the specifications, the Amazon Fire and the B&N NOOK Tablet are fairly evenly matched, though there are a few differences. Both devices feature a 1GHz dual core processor running a heavily customized version of Android 2.3, and they both have a 7-inch IPS touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024 x 600.
The NOOK Tablet has the edge in the memory department, with 16GB of onboard storage and a microSD memory card slot that can accommodate cards of up to 32GB in capacity. It’s half an ounce lighter too, weighing in at 14.1 ounces compared to the Fire’s 14.6, and promises 11.5 hours of reading on a single charge, compared to the Fire’s eight hours. The Fire is slightly smaller overall, measuring 7.57 x 4.7 x 0.45 inches as compared to the NOOK Tablet’s 8.1 x 5.0 x 0.48 inches.
The NOOK Tablet has a built-in microphone that parents can use to record their own narration for selected children’s books. It’s unknown at this time whether the Amazon Fire is equipped with a microphone.
Both tablets have Wi-Fi connectivity, email support, and integrated web browsers, and there are lots of apps available from the respective app storefronts for each device. But the Fire utilizes the new Amazon Silk technology, which promises an experience of unparalleled speed utilizing Amazon Web Services, which keeps persistent connections and intelligently pre-pushes content for a faster, smoother web experience.
Both are capable, if a bit underpowered by today’s high-end standards. But as Apple has shown, specs are only part of the equation, and user experience can vary widely by two similar devices depending on how efficient they operate. We’ll reserve judgment on the hardware until we can spend quality time with both devices.
|Screen Size||7.0 inches||7.0 inches|
|Resolution||1024 x 600||1024 x 600|
|Operating System||Android with Amazon UI||Android|
|Processor||1GHz TI OMAP Dual-Core CPU||
|WiFi||802.11 b/g/n||802.11 b/g/n|
|Ports||microUSB 2.0, 3.5mm stereo audio jack||microSD card slot|
|Internal Memory||8GB||16GB, with room up to 32GB|
|Weight||.09125 lbs||.88125 lbs|
|Dimensions||7.5 in (h) x 4.7 in (w) x .45 in (d)||
8.1 in (h) x 5.0 in (w) x .48 in (d)
Amazon is the one-stop shop for all of your content, and the company has plenty for the Kindle Fire with Kindle eBooks, audible books, magazines, newspapers, and that’s just for starters. All of your content is stored in Amazon’s free cloud service, and accessible anywhere that you have a Wi-Fi connection.
But in order to take full advantage of the Kindle Fire, you’ll need an Amazon Prime membership that costs $79 per year. The company is smart to include a one month free trial with the device, because you’ll probably be hooked once you’re able to choose from thousands of movies and TV episodes that you can stream anytime, for free. Prime also grants access to the Kindle Lending Library, which allows Prime members to borrow a book to read free of cost, with no due date, up to one book a month.
The NOOK Tablet has many of the same benefits, including a huge selection of books, children’s books, magazines, and newspapers. But where Amazon has created their own proprietary library of music and video content, Barnes & Noble has partnered with giants such as Hulu and Netflix. It’s also the only one of the two tablets to natively support EPUB books as Amazon uses their proprietary Mopipocket format.
Both tablets support a large variety of other formats, including PDF, text, and Microsoft Office documents, and support borrowing books from your local public library (if your library offers eBooks). And both tablets allow you to lend eBooks to friends (where the publisher allows it) but the NOOK Tablet has the edge in making that process easier and more social with their NOOK Friends app.
Price and Availability
The Amazon Fire is somewhat less expensive, at $199, though the NOOK Tablet isn’t that much more at a price of $249. The Fire starts shipping on November 15, while the NOOK Tablet will be out a few days later on November 18.
If you’re already deeply entrenched as an Amazon customer, there’s really only one choice for you: the Kindle Fire. Even though its overall specs aren’t quite as impressive as the NOOK Tablet, it’s just too expensive to repurchase content you already own, since DRM is the name of the game these days. It’s also hard to argue with a gigantic library of content that you can borrow for free if you’re a Prime member.
If you’re new to the electronic reading game, however, the Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet is a serious contender. It’s slightly more expensive than the Fire, but it’s also lighter, has twice the built-in memory plus a memory card slot for even more storage, and it promises better battery life too. It also includes free cloud storage for your content, free Wi-Fi connectivity in B&N stores, and packs an extra one-two punch with Hulu Plus and Netflix.
Check out our full review of the Kindle Fire, as well as our review of the NOOK Tablet. You’ve still got some time before choosing which one you might like to purchase, or put on your holiday wish list. Just don’t wait too long, because both the Fire and the NOOK Tablet are likely to be very popular gifts this holiday season.