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11/7/2011
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Nook Vs. Fire: 5 Comparison Points

Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet takes on the Amazon Kindle Fire. From size to support, find out how they compare.

Amazon Kindle Fire: Visual Tour
Amazon Kindle Fire: Visual Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Barnes & Noble said Monday that its Nook Tablet, the successor to the company's popular Nook Color tablet, will be released November 17.

William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble, called the device "the best wireless media tablet in the portable 7-inch class."

That's a claim Amazon no doubt would dispute. The e-commence giant has a new 7-inch media tablet of its own, the Kindle Fire, which is scheduled to ship two days before the new Nook.

But both Amazon and Barnes & Noble agree on one thing: They're betting on Android as the foundation of their online content businesses. That's a pretty bold bet given that Apple's iPad appears likely to capture 75% of the tablet market in 2011. But the alternative, selling content through an iPad app, means handing over 30% of revenue to Apple.

[Take a visual tour of Amazon's forthcoming Kindle Fire.]

This point-by-point comparison of the two Android devices (with an eye on the iPad) may help you determine whether either of these tablets is the one for you.

Price: Advantage Kindle Fire
The Nook Tablet lists for $249 while the Kindle Fire lists for $199. On that basis alone, the Kindle Fire will probably sell better. But many Kindle Fire buyers are going to be paying $79 annually to Amazon for their Prime subscriptions, so the actual prices of the two devices may be closer than the price tags suggest.

Size: Advantage Nook Tablet
The Kindle Fire is a bit smaller than the Nook Tablet, but it weighs a bit more. That matters if you're holding a tablet up for a long time. The Kindle Fire measures 7.5" by 4.7" and weighs 0.91 pounds. The Nook Tablet measures 8.1" by 5" and weighs 0.88 pounds. The screens are the same size--7" diagonally.

Software: Advantage iPad
If you're just counting ebooks, then Amazon and Barnes & Noble have the edge, millions of titles compared to some 200,000 Apple iBooks. But in terms of apps, the iPad has over 140,000, about 10 times as many apps as Amazon has in its Android App Store. Barnes & Noble has fewer apps still, "thousands," according to the company.

Both the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet are built on different forked versions of Android 2.2. They won't run standard Android 2.2-compatible apps unless hacked. And neither tablet comes with support for a camera, GPS, and other standard Android features.

Amazon may end up ahead in the software comparison if its Silk browser turns out to offer a significantly better Web experience than other Android-based browsers.

Hardware: Advantage Nook Tablet
Both the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet feature 1-GHz TI OMAP dual-core CPUs. The Nook, however comes with twice as much RAM (1 GB vs. 512 MB) and internal storage (16 GB vs. 8 GB), not to mention the Nook's microSD slot.

Support: Advantage Nook Tablet
Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble offer one-year limited warranties for their devices. The difference is that Nook Tablet owners can take their devices into Barnes & Noble stores for service and support. Amazon doesn't have retail outlets, at least not yet. (The last time the subject came up, in 2009, Amazon denied having plans to open retail stores.)

Carlos Icaza, co-founder and chief evangelist for Ansca Mobile, which makes the cross-platform Corona SDK for creating Android and iOS apps, said in an email that Barnes & Noble's stores represent an advantage that Amazon doesn't have. At the same time, he observed, the expense of maintaining those stores is a cost that Amazon doesn't have. "We may begin to see complete makeovers of Barnes & Noble brick-and-mortar stores as digital hubs for Nooks," he said. "Kind of like Apple's Genius Bar."

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jcampanella629
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jcampanella629,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/9/2011 | 6:43:24 PM
re: Nook Vs. Fire: 5 Comparison Points
If someone is looking for just an ebook reader the Kindle Fire may work for them well. Amazon typically has the better prices on ebooks than does Barnes and Noble, due to Amazons publishing policies that try to make the price be lowest at Amazon (or cut what the author/publisher earns from sales). Also, discount coupons and such work on any purchase with Amazon, including Kindle purchases, Barnes and Noble would do better if their Membership covered discounts on Nook purchases, as it is, many books are often higher for Nook than the print version. However, if someone is looking for a very portable mobile computing platform going with a pure Android tablet, such one in the Asus Transformer line, is the only way to go. For an extra $150+ you can have the best of both worlds by having Nook, Kindle, and even Google Books on your reader as well as having full access to all the mobile/tablet software out on Google Marketplace that your tablet will support, even Netflix. Have one of the second generation "ink" screen Kindles, and it is great for reading in any light, but for functionality, my Asus Transformer TF101-A1 can't be beat (except maybe by the TF101-B1 that has a bigger flash hard drive).
hereone
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hereone,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/9/2011 | 4:32:45 AM
re: Nook Vs. Fire: 5 Comparison Points
Nook Tablet is $224 if sign up for Barnes & Noble membership. Nook Tablet is clearly the superior device over Kindle Fire. Not just 11.5 hours battery life but 9 hours of video playback time - that's vs. 8 hours for reading and 7.5 hours of video playback on Kindle Fire (even that 7.5 hours will not hold true in tests, video playback drains battery much more than reading)
1 GB RAM Vs. 512 MB RAM of Kindle Fire, 16 GB content capacity plus 32 GB via microSD card vs. 8 GB capacity of Kindle Fire with no expansion slot. Fully laminated HD screen for reduced glare vs. no lamination of Kindle Fire. Bulit-in and optimized Netflix and Hulu plus with millions of movies/shows vs. 100K movies/shows of Amazon store. Nook Tablet has built-in mic for Skype voice conferencing and dictations to speech recognition software. Nook already has Cloud as all eBooks in your online library are stored there as well as downloaded to your device. For streaming movies and shows it has Netflix and Hulu Clouds. Twice better device - in both technical specifications and content offering.
Tom Claburn
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Tom Claburn,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/9/2011 | 12:09:02 AM
re: Nook Vs. Fire: 5 Comparison Points
Amazon today said that the Kindle will be available through a variety of retail outlets: Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Staples, Sam's Club, RadioShack, and Office Depot, among others. If these stores actually bother to train their salespeople in Kindle lore, then Barnes & Noble's store advantage disappears.
lboger
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lboger,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/8/2011 | 6:36:16 PM
re: Nook Vs. Fire: 5 Comparison Points
It's worth mentioning, for sure, but I think TSAXTON554's complaint may have been more that these were ostensibly 5 comparison point between the Nook and the Fire, yet that particular point doesn't compare the Nook and the Fire separately (apart from the Silk mention), but rather the iPad and the Nook/Fire.

I'm picking nits, but what else are comments for, hehe? The truth of the matter is that, right now, these tablets are always going to lose in the software department, because no one really knows yet what advantages/disadvantages the software will have (with the exception of their proprietary nature).
Tom Claburn
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Tom Claburn,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/8/2011 | 5:52:08 PM
re: Nook Vs. Fire: 5 Comparison Points
While potential buyers of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet may not be in the market for a significantly more expensive iPad, I felt the difference in software was worth bearing in mind. The Kindle and Nook are ostensibly Android tablets but both Amazon and Barnes & Noble add hurdles to the development process that makes them something less of an Android tablet than, say a Samsung Galaxy Tab. For users mainly interested in these devices as e-readers, this is less of an issue.
lboger
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lboger,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/8/2011 | 3:38:13 PM
re: Nook Vs. Fire: 5 Comparison Points
Agreed. That's also why I'm surprised the Nook has the RAM advantage.
monkeysaidwhat?
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monkeysaidwhat?,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/8/2011 | 3:29:25 PM
re: Nook Vs. Fire: 5 Comparison Points
I'm going to quibble about the support advantage going to B&N. In my experience, B&N's in-store Nook support is ill-equipped to handle anything more complicated than "How do I turn this thing on?". As a frequent fixture in my two favorite B&N stores, I've had several occasions to witness the staff's under-informed and in some cases mis-informed attempts to support their product. After using my Nook Touch for a day, I was more knowledgable than B&N staff, probably because they had only ever used the store's display models.

On the other hand, Amazon's dedicated Kindle support team has never failed to please me. I think the main difference lies in product training, but the corporate culture element cannot be discounted.

Although I'm not excited by either device, I'm surprised that Kindle Fire's cloud integration was not mentioned here. Amazon seems to envision that Fire users will stream most of their media content, thus requiring less on-board storage. I find it potentially interesting, but I'm not sold on the concept.
lboger
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lboger,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/8/2011 | 3:18:32 PM
re: Nook Vs. Fire: 5 Comparison Points
Yeah, I had to wonder if the size difference would possibly be more of an issue for long-term holding, since the Nook's weight will be distributed out further. Makes me wonder if the Kindle could be more comfortable (despite the weight "disadvantage") because it's a little more compact. May just be too minor to make any difference, though.
ALM4
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ALM4,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/8/2011 | 3:13:46 PM
re: Nook Vs. Fire: 5 Comparison Points
Like the overview comparison, always tempted by new toys. Would point out that the weight difference (.88 vs .91 pounds) is equivalent to a single CD - pretty trivial.
lboger
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lboger,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/8/2011 | 3:03:04 PM
re: Nook Vs. Fire: 5 Comparison Points
Just remember that Amazon and B&N will have full control over apps that are available on their (unmodified) tablets. So, for example, there's no way in hell you'll be able to get Nook for your Kindle or Amazon Books for your Nook Tablet. That's the biggest thing that differentiates these from current Android tablets --- and what is making me hold off on making any decisions. Who knows what else you won't be able to access? For example, would it really be in Amazon's best interest to give you an eBay app for the Fire? Not that I think Amazon and B&N don't have a right to do that (if I were Amazon, I'd want to make as much money on my own services as I can), but it most certainly will impact my buying decision.
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