With the introduction of the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet ($249) this week and Amazon's Kindle Fire ($199) in late September, you'll have two great low-cost color tablet options this holiday season.
The Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire are both Android 2.3 tablets with powerful 1Ghz dual core processors, but you wouldn't know it to look at them. They both have highly customized interfaces, which focus on content, not apps. In the case of the Nook Tablet, that's primarily books, magazines and newspapers, though there are also thousands of apps available through Barnes & Noble, including Netflix, Hulu Plus and Pandora, among others, for those who want to enjoy videos and music.
Barnes & Noble is claiming a better viewing angle for the Nook Tablet than other tablets, thanks it the its "no air" IPS display. This not only benefits readers, but also those that want to share content on the display. Plus the battery is rated at up to 11.5 hours of normal use or 9 hours for video playback.
|B&N Nook Tablet||Amazon Kindle Fire||Apple iPad 2|
|Dimensions||8.1" x 5.0" x .48"||7.5" x 4.7" x 0.45"||9.5" x 7.1" x .34"|
|Weight||14.1 oz||14.6 oz||1.33 lbs|
|Resolution||1024 x 600||1024 x 600||1024 x 768|
|OS||Android 2.3||Android 2.3||iOS|
|Processor||1GHz dual-core||1GHz dual-core||1GHz dual-core|
|Storage||16GB, plus microSD slot||8GB||16GB|
|Camera||No||No||.7MP rear, .3MP front|
|Max battery life||11.5 hours||8 hours||10 hours|
|Apps||Barnes & Noble only||Amazon app store or third-party||iTunes|
If you're comparing the Nook Tablet against the Kindle Fire, there are a few important things to consider
- The Nook Tablet has twice the amount of onboard storage as the Kindle Fire, plus a microSD card slot, which lets you expand the storage for an additional 32GB. Kindle Fire does come with unlimited cloud storage for any content purchased through Amazon, but you'll need access to a high-speed Wi-Fi network to take advantage of it.
- The Nook Tablet has an IPS LCD display, which is supposed to have a better viewing angle than the Kindle Fire.
- The Amazon app store is far larger than the B&N app store, plus you can "sideload" third party apps
- The Kindle Fire will integrate with Amazon's massive music and video store. Barnes & Noble does have some content agreements in the works, but the selection won't compare to the library available for the Kindle Fire.
Against the iPad, there is obviously a huge price differential, and it's really going to come down to a personal decision on cost vs features. Main considerations should be:
- Do you value the larger screen of the iPad 2 over the greater portability of the Nook Tablet?
- Do you want cameras for video chat?
- Are the thousands of apps in the Barnes & Noble App store enough or do you want the hundreds of thousands in the Apple iTunes App Store?
- Do you need a 3G option for on the road or can you get by with Wi-Fi?