The tablet war has begun. Earlier today, Barnes & Noble announced the latest version of their popular e-reader tablet, the Nook Tablet. The device builds on the historical success of the Barnes & Noble Nook Color, an affordable alternative to the Apple iPad that ran on a slightly modified version of Google's Android OS.
The announcement of the Nook Tablet comes about one week before the Amazon Kindle Fire is shipped to its first batch of customers on Nov. 15. The Nook Tablet will be available on Nov. 18. Regardless of whose tablet reaches consumers first, it's evident that these two devices are on a marketing crash course this holiday season.
The Nook Tablet and Amazon Kindle Fire are similarly priced, both run Android 2.3 Gingerbread and are being marketed as e-reader tablets, rather than just tablets, which is apparently a word that only the Apple iPad has been able to carry.
While you begin to size up the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire for a friend, relative or maybe even for yourself, we thought it'd be best to break down the comparisons between both of the devices. So, here it is, a thorough guide to the specs of Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet and the Amazon Kindle Fire:
The Amazon Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet both made their entry into the tablet market with emphasis placed on the quality of each device's screen. They're both a slice above all the other cheaply priced tablets that have ever been on the market. The Kindle Fire display has a chemically strengthened screen that's resistant to scratching. The Nook Tablet requires very little power and remains extremely bright and easy-to-read. Both displays are IPS LCD-displays, meaning they can be viewed at the most angles without a glare. Until we're able to place these tablets side-by-side, it will be too hard to tell which screen is brighter and better. Even after they're compared side-by-side, the differences will likely be negligible.
Best Display = Draw
Both devices have a 1GHz dual-core processor, which is much more processing power than most smartphones have. The processing power makes each device fully capable of running high-quality applications from the Android Market. While there may be a tiny difference when you place each device side-by-side, because each runs its own company-developed version of Android, there should be little-to-no lag time on either device. The speeds that a 1GHz dual-core processor will bring to affordable tablets will more than sufficient.
Best Processing Power = Draw
The Nook Tablet includes 16GB of internal flash memory for digital media storage compared to the 8GB of internal flash memory included in the Amazon Kindle Fire. The storage difference between both devices wouldn't be nearly as big if the Nook Tablet didn't also provide a Micro-SD Card slot that allows the device to add 32GB of storage. In total, the Nook Tablet can hold up to 48GBs of media. Without an expansion port, the Amazon Kindle Fire can't compete when it's not near a Wi-Fi connection.
Better Storage = Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet
The Nook Tablet offers nonstop reading for up to 11.5 hours and constant video playback for up to 9 hours. The Amazon Kindle Fire can only provide up to 8 hours of reading time and 7.5 hours of video playback. No matter what a user is doing, it seems that the Nook Tablet trounces the Amazon Kindle Fire in terms of battery life.
Better Battery = Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet
The Nook Tablet is the reigning lightweight in this battle. At just 14.1 ounces, the device is noticeably light for an LCD-based tablet device. By comparison, the Kindle Fire is 14.6 ounces, which is almost negligible, but, this is a fair fight, and a win is a win.
Lightest Weight = Nook Tablet
Price point was a game-changer for the Amazon Kindle Fire. Tablet devices at the time were being sold for much more than $500, such as the HP Touchpad and Motorola Xoom. The Kindle Fire was the first tablet to truly be considered an iPad Killer and is set to break opening week sales for a tablet device according to TPM. Even after the launch of the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet, it's apparent that the $199 price will be hard for most companies to hit.
Best Price = Amazon Kindle Fire
When the Amazon App Store, a fragment of the Android Market, was first launched, it was widely misunderstood. Things began to make much more sense after the announcement of the Amazon Kindle Fire. The wide selection of goods on Amazon.com will be paired with a digital marketplace that offers TV shows, movies, music and more. Since Barnes & Noble doesn't have nearly as many servers as Amazon, they'll be relying heavily on third-party developers for other media that will be available on the Nook Tablet. Even CEO of Barnes & Noble William Lynch addressed the Amazon App store during the Nook Tablet announcement, calling the Amazon Kindle Fire is just a vending machine for Amazon products. Whether it's vending Amazon products or not, the Kindle Fire wins this category in a big way.
Best Marketplace = Amazon Kindle Fire
While the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet is certainly a beautiful device and would be a fantastic holiday gift, the most economical decision would be the Amazon Kindle Fire. Though the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet offers the largest marketplace of digital books, the sheer computing power behind the entire Amazon server program will likely make the Amazon Kindle Fire a huge success in the long-term. The Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet may be right for someone that shops at the mall, needs on-the-spot specialists at physical stores and wants to see the product before they purchase it, but for the shopper who's already taken the plunge into digital holiday shopping, the Amazon Kindle Fire is cheapest, has only marginally weaker hardware and has a much bigger library of digital media to choose from.
Winner: Amazon Kindle Fire