Kindle Fire VS Nook Tablet
Kindle Fire vs. Nook Tablet: The Battle between Low-Priced Color Tablets!
Well they’ve finally released the next generation of low-cost tablets, which is a relatively new genre of electronics. Previously we’ve had the Darth Vadar iPad which dominated the market share, and a slew of lesser known tablets from HP, Blackberry and most notably, Samsung. The Samsung Android-based tablet and the iPad were the true standouts, both coming in at over $400 per.
The Kindle Fire and the Nook Color Tablet were always meant for more cost-conscious consumers, like us! Naturally, we still want all the features and gizmos and access to internet/apps as the high-priced iPad/Tab users have, yet without the extra cost.
As demanding consumers, we more features for less money. We want vivid colors. We want access to the latest newspapers and magazines. We want to be able browse the web on the GO, be it at the airport, at the bookstore, or on the metro.
Basically, we want one nicely-sized gadget to allow us to browse the web, read our material, check our email, do some light research and keep us entertained–from anywhere. I pull out my ‘device’ (I’ll tell you guys which one I prefer at the end of this article, to avoid any bias) at the airport, when I’m waiting for a plane. I often use it to read on my daily commute, though I still prefer my older Kindle for that task. Sometimes, I pull it out during a presentation, if I am missing something and I need to show my clients something on the internet. I often use it lounging on my couch, when a laptop is far too bulky, and I need to know the name of that song that just came on during the commercial.
But of course–there are thousands more uses I am forgetting or just haven’t discovered yet. I see kids on the train playing with tablets, and since I don’t have any kids yet–I can’t comment on that. However, I can comment on many other important factors I find crucial to deciding between these very evenly matched tablets. And I hope that you find these factors crucial as well. They are as follows:
Both, in my opinion, are amazing devices. Such a small body for a huge amount of technology. Holding either of them makes you feel as if you have an entire computer in the palm of your hand.
The Tablet weighs slightly less, but in our opinion, this is a negligible difference. We liked how the Kindle Fire felt nicely weighted in our hands, and felt that the Nook Tablet was “easier to drop”–if you know that feeling.
We DID NOT like the way the buttons were placed in the Kindle Fire. There are no side volume control buttons. The speakers placement similarly was not thought out well, as it is easy to “muffle” the sound.
All in all, we still preferred the well-thought-out ergonomics of the Kindle Fire. But this is one category you may want to go and test out for yourself.
III. E-Book & Magazine Reading
In our other Kindle vs Nook (ereaders) review, we put a lot of weight on how “well” we could read on the two devices. In THIS review, we ended up being somewhat disappointed on how difficult, relatively, it was to read regular type on the tablets. This is mainly due to the type of screens, which introduced a lot of glare that is not apparent on e-reader screens that use the e-ink technology. Furthermore, we found that the color, in daylight, was very hard to see, almost impossible, due to the glare. But if you plan on being indoors frequently, this may not matter much to you. And of course, both Amazon and B&N never meant for these devices to be pure “ereaders” and we have to remind ourselves that readiability may not be the most important factor of these tablets.
While reading is more difficult on both compared to the respective ereaders, we found that the Nook Tablet was easier to read on than Kindle Fire. This includes any sort of text-based medium, such as textbooks, magazines, newspapers, internet type, instructions, as well as plain old e-books.
The readability of the Nook Tablet over the Kindle Fire mainly has to do with the different type of LCD screen that reduces glare on the Nook Tablet. Remember–the Nook Color (predecessor for the Tablet) has been released for quite some time, and B&N has had time to tweak this annoying feature, compared to the Kindle Fire which was just released Nov 2011.
Both devices have resolutions of 1024 x 600.
On the Nook, you have many more options in regards to text-sizes, for those with disabilities in vision–this may be an important factor.
IV. Useability (especially for Tech Noobs)
We defined “usability” as how easy it is to get going, right out of the box, browsing, listening to music, playing with apps, and using the device can be.
We especially liked the Kindle Fire in this category. We liked the way the menus were set up. While the Kindle Fire had very consistent menus and submenus, the Nook Tablet had menus that were a bit confusing and took some getting used to. In short, they weren’t as “natural” and intuitive as the Fire menus.
The Kindle Fire also flips from portrait and landscape, depending on how you’re holding it.
The Nook doesn’t have this feature. So say you’re watching a clip in landscape mode. When you press “back” or go to a settings menu, you will have to flip the device upright to read what’s going on. Either that, or crook your neck sideways . Not major, but certainly annoying. And of course, in this age of technology, we demand that they cater to even our most minor preferences.
In all, we found the layout, the icons and the menus of the Kindle Fire much more pleasureable to look at, and more intuitive to use.
The Kindle Fire web browser (called Amazon Silk) is much easier to use than the Nook Browser. The Nook browser seems a bit tacked on and not thought out. It seems as if B&N thought it was rarely going to be used. Ever use a cellphone’s browser, and be frustrated at how clunky and difficult it was to use compared to a computer browser? Well that’s the Nook browser compared to the Kindle Fire browser–difficult to use.
However–there have been MANY reports on how Amazon uses your browsing history to feed you advertisements and to keep track of your preferences with the Silk browser. Amazon is a company that has attracted the negative attention of privacy activists on the internet, for this and many other reasons. Depending your views on privacy on the internet, the Kindle browser may not be for you!
One more thing, which is in favor of the Nook tablet: remember how we judged in section III. that the Nook type was much easier to read? This rings true for the browser text as well–Nook is still easier to read.
Email is pretty tame on both devices. We prefer the Nook a bit. The Nook Gmail app is still in portrait mode however, but easier to use. You can add your individual email accounts and it will check your email at a set interval. Not the greatest email client out there on either side.
VI. Library & Available Media
Amazon, by far, is the best online media market out there today, in our opinion. You have access to streaming and downloaded movies, books, newspapers, magazines, anything you’d ever want to get your hands on. Amazon even trumps Apple iTunes in terms of what sort of media is available. Of course, you get front and center access to the wide Amazon media market through the Kindle Fire.
The Nook does have a nifty little marketplace as well, called the “Shop” app. In this app, you can buy books, newspapers and apps from the Nook store, but predictably, the range of media you can buy is limited compared to Amazon. However, to access movies and music, B&N has partnered up with Hulu and Netflix, and other apps sucha s Pandora, Rhapsody and TuneIn provide the music and movie media. Of course, this is NOT as convenient as having to look in one place, as you would with the Kindle Fire. We found the Kindle Fire to be a bit easier to use and purchase media. Not to mention that we love the Amazon layout and shopping experience–I’m sure many of you have already shopped Amazon before and can agree that nothing really comes close.
Winner: Kindle Fire – Get it now for just $199!
VII. Music & Audio
As mentioned before, the speakers are poorly placed on the Fire, which distorts the music volume and makes it an inconvinient device to listen to loud music on. Of course, compared to the Nook speakers, which there is only ONE of, and is tiny, the Fire speakers still win out.
The music player on the Kindle Fire is beautiful to look at, automatically downloads covers, and is VERY well organized. You can create playlists, organize your list by artist, song, album, all the usual categories. You can access the Amazon music store directly from the music player, so no fidgeting around for that song you all of a sudden remembered. A very well thought out feature that Amazon was smart enough to know was going to be a dealbreaker.
The Nook Tablet music player, on the other hand, is very much like the navigation and menus–very poorly thought out and not at all intuitive. The whole thing is still based in portrait mode of course, and since B&N doesn’t SELL music, we’re grasping for our tunes on Rhapsody and Pandora, which are fine for their OWN uses, but limit us in terms of options.
Winner: Kindle Fire – Get it now for just $199!
VIII. Pictures & Video Quality
Pictures look very nice on both the devices, but we like the Nook’s color and sharpness. The video was also marginally better on the Nook, we noticed. So if you’re a big photo and video quality junkie, this category alone may swing you over to the Nook side.
We’re not a big fan of Nook’s My Media app, which is the feature that organizes and lets you view your media. The Nook app is simply very disorganized and puts all your images into “one” folder essentially, making you scroll through them all, despite the fact that you can create folders. The thumbnails, in contrast to full-sized pictures, are hard to see and not well compressed. The entire app seems tacked on and lacks many essential features, such as an “send to friend” option.
The Kindle Fire app has very bad image quality, because it automatically compresses images and lowers resolution to fit the device. The Gallery app, what Kindle calls its image viewer, is practically useless (unless you don’t mind your automatically lowered picture quality) for this anti-”feature” alone. You have the option, of course, of downloading a third-party app for image viewing, but we don’t see why the Kindle Gallery app is so adamant on resizing images down to tiny sizes.
The Gallery app, however is much more easy to organize images in, which is one needed plus. The video quality of the Kindle Fire is quite similar to the Nook’s.
In today’s app-driven world, much of how we critique a device also falls on what the future holds for it. And in most cases, the future for a device is in the apps it hosts.
Both devices are limited to their parent company’s apps–Kindle can host the few Amazon-compatible apps, while Nook can host the few B&N-compatible apps. The wide range of Android apps, are for the most part, not available on either device. This is what we expected, from reports prior to release, but a major downgrade from regular tablets like the iPad and Samsung Tab, which can host ANY apps compatible with their respective operating systems. Both Amazon and B&N have promised to provide more and more apps to Fire and Nook users in the coming months.
For the apps that we CAN download and use, it seems that the Nook’s function better, look better, and are integrated better. We found that the Kindle Fire apps look a bit fuzzy, as if they were not MEANT to be used on the Fire–since most Android apps are used on smartphones. The bigger screen of the Fire made the apps look out of place. The Kindle Fire DOES let you load up 3rd party Android apps, but does not ensure that they will work.
Winner: Nook Tablet – Get it now for just $299!
This is possibly one of the more controversial categories that we review, time and time again. We have made it clear that we appreciate the style of company that Amazon is much more than B&N. This largely stems from this reviewer’s repeated problems with B&N staff, who seem very ignorant as to how to actually troubleshoot the Nook device, which has had its share of technical problems. Now–that doesn’t mean that this experience will be shared by everyone who buys the Nook, but personally–considering that B&N has had a HOST of financial problems in recent times–we just feel a lot safer and happier with the Amazon service.
Think of it this way–we want to keep these devices updated and improved upon for many years. Many of us are not the type to buy the latest new gadget every time they release one. So if we buy one–this is it, at least for several years. Our reviewers felt that Amazon was a company very much on the rise, especially in terms of media availability, than is B&N.
Winner: Amazon! Kindle Fire – Get it now for just $199!
Right now, the Kindle Fire comes in at a very modest $199, while the Nook Tablet is priced at $250. Now we’re not in the business of telling you the obvious–that the Fire costs less than the Nook. What we aim to do is to weigh the pros and cons for both devices, and try and determine whether that extra $50 is worth it when buying the Nook, or whether the Kindle Fire is the best bang for your buck.
Pound for pound, we considered the Nook Tablet better in terms of apps, picture/video quality, and READABILITY, especially for people who need large-text, which the Kindle doesn’t provide. So if you have trouble seeing tiny letters, or are a big quality junkie the Nook very well may be worth the extra $50.
However, most of us doing the reviews found that though the Kindle Fire is by no means a PERFECT device, there is a LOT of potential here. We liked the design, both physical and interface, and find that the device is a much easier to use, in terms of how many buttons we need to press to get something done.
So for many buyers this holiday season and beyond, we are confident to say that the Kindle Fire is great bang for it’s buck, even compared to the Nook Tablet, which is $50 more expensive, and definitely compared to the iPad and Tab, which are double the price.
Here’s a quick summary, in table format, of our categorical results.
|Kindle Fire||Nook Tablet|
|Library & Media||WIN||-|
|Music & Audio||WIN||-|
|Pictures & Video Quality||-||WIN|
Both devices are definitely “first-gen”. For Amazon, this is the first foray for them into the “color tablet” genre of gadgets, and there is a LOT of room for improvement. If you want a “all-the-options-included” sort of tablet, NEITHER of these are right for you. You are better off shelling out the money for an iPad or Tab, since they are fully-loaded, everything-goes type of tablets.
For the cost-conscious consumer, these fit right into our budget. At less than half the price, both devices are very capable of performing the more basic tasks, though the lack of apps is a big factor as to why one might shell out the money for a higher-priced tablet. But if you’re mainly focused on downloading MEDIA, and not so much focused on apps, games, and productivity, either of these devices may be right for you!
Choose wisely, and have fun! Let us know your story in the comments section below.