Amazon Kindle Fire vs NOOK Tablet

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Chiming in at that perfect moment before the holiday season is expected to get its jumpstart, fireworks are sure to fly aimlessly everywhere now that the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet are out and available to the masses. Finding that niche spot between dedicated eReaders and full featured tablets, these two affordable devices are knowingly gunning at one another vying for supremacy in this ever-delicate landscape. Priced at $200 and $250 respectively, there’s no kidding they’re going to eat at some of the usual market share held concretely by the big names in the tablet industry, but the important question you’re probably asking, is which one should win over your hard earned money?

Design:

Sure it’s a recycled design, but the Nook Tablet easily gets our vote of confidence as being the better looking between the two – well, it’s not to say that the Amazon Kindle Fire is bad, but it’s seriously way too cookie cutter and boring with its appearance. Thankfully, both tablets are comfortable to hold with one hand,  sturdy in overall build, and easily shed that notion of being ‘cheap’ like some other sub-$250 tablets on the market. However, the Nook Tablet’s soft touch coating simply repels dirt and debris significantly better than the Amazon Kindle Fire – thus, resulting in a remarkably cleaner look at all times.

Honestly, when they both sport the same size 7” 1024 x 600 IPS displays, there’s hardly going to be one that’s going to offer better detail than the other – they boast the same pixel density of 169 ppi. When it comes down to reading, both are naturally equipped in handling that scenario, but seeing that the Nook Tablet’s VividView display is fully laminated, it results in better viewing angles, clarity, and reduced glare. Needless to say, it’s nice to see the Nook Tablet maintaining its clarity at all angles, but when you look at the two at a straight 90-degree angle, it’s hardly noticeably which one is superior. Yet, we need to hand it to the Nook Tablet on this one for the simple reason that the Amazon Kindle Fire’s display has a tendency to cast a bluish color when it’s tilted to various degrees.


Due to its prominent feel, the power button of the Amazon Kindle Fire is easily the preferred one – though, they both convey tactile responses when pressed. However, we do like that we’re able to control volume at any time with the Nook Tablet seeing that it offers us physical volume controls, whereas with the Kindle Fire, it’s all controlled via the software.


Yes, we can charge and exchange data using the microUSB ports on the two tablets, but strangely, the Nook requires its ‘proprietary’ microUSB cable to charge it. Additionally, they both feature 3.5mm headset jacks, but the Nook Tablet packs a microphone as well.


Finally, the Nook Tablet has one useful thing lining the corner of its back cover – well, it proves its usefulness in quickly getting data on/off the tablet. Specifically, it features a microSD card slot that will accept cards to supplement its internal capacity.





Interface:

Maybe it’s hard to believe it, but it’s actually Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread hidden underneath the heavily customized interface brought on by Amazon and Barnes & Noble with their respective devices. Without a doubt, they don’t compare to the rich personalization offered by the usual crop of Android tablets on the market right now, but opt for more simplistic experience. However, if we have to choose, we’d pick the interface of the Nook Tablet for the simple reason that it offers more personalization with its resizable icons, 3 homescreens, and the ability to change the background wallpaper. In contrast, the Amazon Kindle Fire is less personal with its approach because we’re left to accept its presentation, then again, it isn’t a bad one as we’re greeted with a bookshelf-like layout and a 3D carousel of recently accessed content.



Unfortunately, both tablets are not “with Google” devices, lacking the Google apps like Gmail, YouTube, Calendar and most importantly – the Android Market. They rely on their own eco systems, and here Amazon is the big winner, with huge Appstore selection in comparison to the Nook one. It also has a good music and videos ecosystem. However, if you don't mind some “hacking”, there already is a simple solution to load the Amazon Appstore on the Nook. We wouldn't be surprised to see third party developers bringing the Android Market itself to both of them.

Under the hood, they share the same 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP4 processor that keep them in good light with some of their full-featured tablet competition, but the Amazon Kindle Fire is coupled with only 512MB or RAM, which is half the 1GB tucked inside the Nook Tablet. Nevertheless, they’re able to exhibit a good amount of speed and performance to merit them as tolerable – though, the Amazon Kindle is inconsistent at times with its performance. Well, it’s not terrible, but noticeable enough to catch our eyes when compared to the Nook Tablet. Obviously, they’re not the most fluid with their movements and executions, but at least they’re never to the point unmanageable to handle.

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Functionality:

Typing up lengthy messages is indeed a process, especially when their landscape keyboards are wickedly cramped, but at least they get the job done. Actually, we don’t necessarily find one to be better than the other, but we can agree that the portrait options are  undeniably easier to handle since our thumbs are able to encompass their layouts.


Likewise, we can say the same about their respective native emails clients seeing that they present us with only the most bare essential features. Of course, it’s not going to take us away from the appreciable Gmail experience we’re accustomed to seeing, but nevertheless, it’s nice to gain access to emails.





Internet and Connectivity:

Nowadays, we’re spoiled when it comes to web browsing, and it’s always a beloved thing to be exposed to such a worthwhile browsing experience on both devices. Strengthening their functionality, Flash support is on board, thus, enabling us to get that desktop-like functionality. For the most part, they’re good enough to browse through complex web pages like ours, however, the Amazon Kindle Fire exhibits just a tiny bit of choppiness with its navigational controls – albeit, we do enjoy that it offers tab browsing, which isn’t available on the Nook Tablet. All in all, they’re both equipped in handling the needs of the most demanding users out there.



Beyond their Wi-Fi connections, there isn’t much else to find seeing that they lack some of the connectivity items featured on most tablets – like aGPS, Bluetooth, and cellular data. Naturally, transferring data is accomplished via their microUSB ports, but the Nook Tablet has the added benefit of a microSD card to quickly get things loaded/unloaded.

Multimedia:

Both don't have a camera. No video chatting with these.

Reading, it’s the core functionality that these two tablets were built around, and honestly, they work in perfect fashion – then again, we can say the same about most tablets out there. When it comes to their books, newspapers, and magazines ecosystem, they’re both filled to the brim with a lot of content to appease even the most hardened users out there. And to complement their wealthy catalog, we’re presented with quite a few options that enable us to better make the reading experience more gratifying – such as changing the font, text size, line spacing, and color modes.



Sure they both are on the same level when it comes to reading materials, but on the other end of the spectrum, the Amazon Kindle Fire is vastly superior thanks to its extensive multimedia ecosystem, which is clearly missing with the Nook Tablet. Specifically, we have both Amazon’s video and MP3 service that allows us to access our content in the clouds directly on the tablet – without using up any of its internal storage capacity. In addition, if you happen to be an Amazon Prime member, you’ll have access to thousands of movies and television shows that you can stream instantly. And if the selection isn’t appealing, you can always resort to buying any of Amazon’s paid content. Fortunately, we can always resort to using apps like Netflix to get our video watching fix with both, but it’s the Amazon Kindle Fire’s multimedia ecosystem that makes the experience considerably more worthwhile.

Overlooking that the Amazon Kindle Fire can stream music from the clouds, their respective music player interfaces are very close to one another – well, they’re rather conventional with their layouts. Even though they both produce neutral tones that are pleasant to the ear and don’t crackle, the Amazon Kindle Fire’s two speakers are able to inch out just a tad ahead with its overall volume.



Playing back high-definition videos is no problem with either device, as they’re both capable of playing our test videos encoded in MPEG-4 1920 x 1080 resolution. In fact, our eyes are greeted with smooth playback, rich details, and vibrant colors to make them enjoyable to watch.

Paltry by today’s standards, the 8GB of internal storage available with the Kindle Fire pales in comparison to the 16GB offered by the Nook Tablet, which supplements its capacity with microSD card support.



Performance:

Unlike our handy smartphones, these two tablets are able to present us with enough battery life to last throughout the day – especially if classify yourself as a power user. In our experience with normal usage, we’re left at approximately 50% capacity by the end of the day, which is indeed more than acceptable in our books.

Conclusion:

Separated by a mere $50, one can spend a lot of time juggling why one is better than the other, but after spending some time with the two, we think that the Amazon Kindle Fire simply offers the most bang for the buck – and even better, it’s the cheaper of the two! Yes, the Nook Tablet has a better display, expandable storage and more RAM, but when it comes down to actually using the device, there’s nothing too major that makes it the better performer. Actually, it’s Amazon’s extensive ecosystem surrounding multimedia content and third party apps that wins us over above all things – not only does it deepen the tablet’s functionality, but it will seemingly appease those who are already heavily invested in Amazon’s services. We also expect the Kindle Fire to sell better, and to receivе better support from 3rd party developers. On the other hand, the Nook is better in terms of hardware and its biggest drawback – the apps ecosystem - is rather easily solved, once you port the Amazon Appstore to it.

Kindle Fire vs NOOK Tablet video comparison:




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