NOOK Tablet vs. Kindle Fire – A tablet smackdown

I’ve been waiting to get my hands on both a NOOK Tablet and Kindle Fire since the news of their release hit the Internet. I’m definitely smitten with my first generation iPad, but the new tablets have been getting a lot of buzz–not just because they come priced well under the cheapest Droid tablet, but because they really are capable machines with lots of cool features. 


Of course deciding between the Nook and the Kindle Fire can be a bit of a challenge, so I’ve been playing around with both, to help you pick which one is best for you (or that lucky recipient). -Kristen


Kindle Fire v. NOOK Tablet


[Get the true scoop on both new tablets after the jump]


Keep in mind, I don’t think either are true iPad competitors. The
iPad size, speed, memory, and apps beat both of these hands down.
Something has to be sacrificed if you’re going to sell a tablet for less than $250. However, if you’re
more of a casual tablet user and don’t necessarily need to use it for work or a steady stream of social media updates (heh), then you’ll want to take a long hard look at both
of these gadgets, both of which offer a fantastic
bang for the buck.


Kindle FireThe Kindle Fire

I haven’t seen our Kindle Fire much since
the first few days I had it because my husband (the Kindle user in the
house) snatched it right up. Even though we own an iPad, he really liked
the smaller size and the simple interface, which is one of the first things you
will notice; it’s clean and streamlined, at least compared to the Droid
tablets I’ve seen.

The Kindle Fire is dramatically smaller than an iPad, but
not much bigger than a Kindle e-reader–though you Kindle users will
notice the Fire is much thicker and heavier, and it won’t be winning any beauty contests.
It also has a shorter battery life than the basic Kindle — just under 8 hours — which is
not surprising because it’s intended to function as more than an e-reader.

A few
quick clicks with the neatly organized tabs and you’ll be flipping
through the pre-loaded apps which include Facebook and IMDB (huh?), and
of course you can add more with a quick connection to the Amazon app store which is
fully stocked with loads of Droid apps. Be warned, you’re also connected
to the actual Amazon store, which means you’ll want to use caution if
you’re thinking of using this as a gift for a tween or teen. Your tablet is connected to your credit card, meaning you could potentially end up
with a new electric guitar at your door if you’re not careful.

The
“Silk” page flipping is pretty obvious; it’s fast and smooth like the
name indicates. The Kindle Fire’s bright screen also offers good picture quality for movies, which you can
purchase and rent right from Amazon. Are you surprised?

The
biggest issue with the Fire is that you get what you pay for. At $199,
there’s no camera and you only get 8G of memory. Sure, you get 5G of
Amazon Cloud storage for free, but if you’re looking to keep a bunch of
documents handy, along with movies, music, and apps, you’ll whip through
that 8G pretty quickly. I also find the power
button placement on the bottom side is a bit awkward, but
really a minor complaint and something you’ll get used to.

However, if you’re looking to do what you might
do with your Droid smart phone, just with a bigger screen, then the
Fire is an excellent choice. And take my advice and get the Prime
upgrade for $79 which opens up a whole slew of free books and videos
with their lending library.

NOOK tabletThe NOOK Tablet

I
waited an anxious 12 days for my NOOK Tablet to arrive from Barnes &
Noble’s website, and we’ve heard similar from our readers. So if you’re in the market, you might want to pick your NOOK up in person from your local store or from Best Buy


Once it (finally) arrives, however, you’ll notice that the NOOK Tablet is much more stylized than the Kindle Fire. Even with the same screen size, it’s got a rounded back
and just looks prettier. It also has that weird loop thing at the bottom corner which is for…well, I’m not
quite sure what it’s for. A carabiner?

The NOOK home button and
main screen feel more intuitive than the Kindle, and I’d even go so
far as to say that websites just look a little nicer on the NOOK’s screen. The NOOK is styled with more finesse overall,
which is definitely noticeable. So if you want
to customize your homescreen or are swayed by small design nuances, NOOK definitely has the upper
hand.

Because Barnes & Noble is not the media powerhouse that Amazon is, B&N partners with other providers to offer streaming TV and movies: NOOK Netflix and Hulu Plus apps come pre-installed. The lack
of a video download service can be an issue, though (especially when you don’t
have great WiFi). You have to connect to the internet and use the included apps in order to watch video.

Speaking of apps, the NOOK Tablet requires its own special apps, so
while you can connect to the Barnes & Noble app store, you will have
nowhere near the Android apps you’ll get on a Fire. For example, I searched for Twitter apps on the NOOK Tablet
and found only one: Seesmic. My guess is that they will be rolling out a lot
more apps very very soon, so if you can wait, it might be worth it.

One huge plus about the NOOK especially for parents who plan to let their kids use the tablet: the NOOK has always championed kids’ ebooks, even offering a separate site NOOKKids.com.  It’s definitely a big benefit, as is the magazine selection and the reading experience as a whole.

The biggest difference? With the NOOK, you get double the memory (16GB) of the Kindle
Fire. You only use 1GB of space for dragged and dropped audio or video files, leaving a whole heckuva lot of space for apps and books. You
can also invest in a microSD card and double the memory again — that’s four times more memory than the 8GB you will be stuck with when it
comes to the Fire.

The Verdict: As with all tech, it really depends what you’ll be using your tablet for.

What
the Kindle Fire lacks in style and memory, it makes up for in access to
Amazon’s mecca of digital services, a huge field of apps, and a simple,
streamlined interface. It’s an app-aholic video watcher’s tablet for those who
doesn’t care too much about looks.

The NOOK Tablet is perfect for
someone who wants something more stylish both in construction and
capability as an ereader, but isn’t too concerned about apps or accessing videos at the
snap of a finger.

You can purchase the NOOK Tablet at BN.com
or better, head to your local store or Best Buy. And the Kindle Fire is
available at our affiliate Amazon.com

Cool Mom Staff

We spend our time looking for cool stuff so you don't have to. Hope this one fits the bill.

7 Comments

  • Reply December 6, 2011

    Meghan

    Great review. I’ve been oogling the Kindle Fire since it came out. I’m suffering with an HP TouchPad that no one is making apps for.

  • Reply December 6, 2011

    Jason

    Nice review, thanks for this.

    To answer what I think was your question about why IMDB is pre-installed on the Fire: IMDB is owned by Amazon. And it’s another way for people to discover movies which they can download from Amazon.

  • Reply December 6, 2011

    Nicole

    Question…did you try to load your own videos on to the Nook? Supposedly you can do that but I’m wondering how difficult it really is. I’d really like a Nook but I intend to load my own video media on to the device to use at the gym.

  • Reply December 7, 2011

    Thane

    Keep in mind that anyone with even basic user skills can sideload all the Amazon apps onto the B&N Nook. Truly – there is no difference in avaialability of apps and downloadable movies & video at this point. Most of the review miss this – too bad, as the directions are in all the forums.

    Here’s what I think – Nook for anyone with even basic user skills, Kindle for newbies who would be intimadated by sideloading.

    If money is no object, go with the Ipad, which has by far the most apps.

  • Reply December 13, 2011

    Nalonni Madden

    Great review. I was planning to get a Nook for my daughter.

  • Reply December 18, 2011

    Brenda C

    Great review. Now I know I want the Kindle Fire.

  • Reply January 6, 2012

    michelle

    Really appreciate your comment. Super helpful. I want a Book. For sure now. Thanks!

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