e-Readers: the KindleFire Vs. the NookTablet

Amazon’s new #KindleFire e-reader was officially released earlier this week, and hot on it’s heels will be Barnes & Noble’s #NookTablet, tomorrow (11/18.)  On behalf of potential buyers of these devices, as well as potential readers of my own e-book, I decided to take a look at these fairly affordable devices and compare and contract their attributes.  For the casual buyer, I’ll try not to get too technical or redundant.

Amazon’sKindle Fire

Kindle Fire

For a hot minute, the most popular will undoubtedly be the Kindle Fire.  At a price point of $199.00, the Fire will make a likely gift for anyone purchasing an inexpensive color e-reader for a friend or loved one.  It’s a $300 difference in price from Apple’s iPad.  The next thing you need to know is that the Kindle Fire is Wi-Fi ONLY !  That means no cellular access.  Although you can read or watch any downloaded content on it without wireless internet access, you will need wireless internet access in order to get the content onto the device.  Typically any coffeeshop or bookstore (if there are any left) provides free wireless, but you need to know this in advance of Christmas morning.  The positive side, is not having a required monthly cellular subscription tied to your device.  Re: the Apple iPad.  (Note: Kindle does make earlier model e-readers which do utilize cellular technology; why they have not included it here, has not been explained.)

And Amazon is offering something unique with their tablet — a FREE month of something called “Amazon Prime.”  It’s a free one month access to Amazon’s “lending library.”  Just like checking out a single book at a time, and reading it, then returning it when your finished.  This temporary month of Amazon’s Prime program is designed to get the user hooked on borrowing books, as opposed to buying them.  And to demonstrate the ease of ordering product from Amazon.com.

Downside ?  While the iPad and the Nook Tablet offer the ability to download books from third party vendors, such as Amazon, etc., the Kindle will only download books from Amazon.  (Note to comic book fans: Amazon Kindle has an exclusive deal with DC Comics, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook line now has an exclusive deal with Marvel Comics.)  Kindle’s own comic reading app has quickly garnered some negative criticism.  Though the Kindle does allow comic book readers to purchase and download the “Comixology” app for reading comic books.  Of course, as always, you have to pay through the nose for each comic.  The days of 35 cents an issue are long gone.  Expect around $4 to $6 per comic book.  Which will be a major issue with comics addicts.  Most perpetual readers of comic books can easily set up a discount deal at their local comic book store of between 15% and 20%, and save a bundle, in comparison to current digital comics prices.

Apple iPad 2

Getting into the technical specs, the Fire has a 7″ scratch resistant screen,  a single power button (everything is done by touch on this device,) a power jack and a headphone jack.  And it’s very portable.  About the size of one of those lengthy paperbacks you now see on stands.  Because it’s in color, you can view magazines and comic books on it.  But, the text is often too small and you may prefer to use the Kindle’s “text only” mode for viewing this media.  I got around this by simply turning the device sideways.  It increases the scope and size of everything.  I should also note that I found the Fire curiously too narrow to read a book on, unless turned sideways.  Vertically, there are two few words per line and that creates a very bizarre reading experience.  This is also a problem with Barnes & Noble’s new Nook device.   If reading is your only vice and you have no need of a small tablet to watch the occasional movie on or check your email on, then you might simply prefer the new black & white Kindle Touch.

Kindle Touch

It’s only $99.00, reportedly 25% faster than the former model, and the screen — though not as long as the Fire — is a bit wider.  And after handling it myself, it seems to provide a better reading experience.  There is a $79 version, but you have to negotiate pesky, unwanted advertisements on it, and for that reason, I cannot recommend it.

Kindle Fire arrives with a free Netflix application.  A software that allows Netflix account users to watch movies and TV direct from an already established account on their tablet.  To aid in this, are two small stereo speakers on top of the device, which seem to work well unless in a crowded environment.  Please note the Kindle Fire is a standard Definition tablet.  NOT HD !  So while you can buy and watch High Definition content on it, you will be watching it in Standard Definition.  If you want HD, you will want to go with a higher end tablet like the iPad, or the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Faster than the previous Kindles, the Fire has a duel core 1GHz Processor, 512 MB of RAM, and 8 full hours of battery life, without utilizing the Wi-Fi.  Utilizing Wi-Fi for downloading or surfing, uses more power and drags down the battery life.  In fair comparison, the Apple iPad gets 10 hours with Wi-Fi, and the Nook Tablet (which I will be discussing momentarily) gets 11.5 hours of battery life — but like the Fire, that’s with Wi-Fi OFF.

Another negative is that a lot more apps are available for the Apple iPad.  But, given the price point, it’s a trade off.  Amazon has admitted that they will definitely see losses given the price point of their product.  Their base cost for manufacturing each Kindle Fire device, is $210.  Therefore, their suggested retail price point should probably be set around $300 — and yet they are selling this item for $200.  Keep that in mind.

Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet

Nook Tablet

The new 7″ Nook Tablet is very similar to the Kindle with some notable exceptions.  First off the price point is one dollar shy of fifty bucks more, bringing it up to $249.00.  (Note: if you are already a Barnes & Noble member, you get $25 off the price, making the Nook Tablet only $25 more than the Kindle.)  But the reason for the price difference becomes obvious with a quick look at the specs.  As opposed to Amazon, who are utilizing off the shelf components, Barnes & Noble have elected to optimize their device.  With 16 GB of storage, the Nook Tablet has twice the storage capacity of the Kindle Fire, a 1.2GHz Processor, and a full 1GB of RAM.  (To be fair to the competition, Amazon offers an on-line storage bay, where everything you buy from them is mirrored and stored permanently.  So you can delete it from your tablet and re-add it again, at a later time.)  There’s also an SD card slot for an additional 32 GB of storage, should the user choose to upgrade.  It also has the free Netflix app — along with Hulu and Pandora, already integrated.  As stated in the previous dissection of the Kindle Fire, the Nook’s battery life is 11.5 hours, but it’s also cut down to 9 hrs. when watching movies/TV.

The Nook is also a weightier device.  Thicker and heavier.  That’s a knock against it.  But the screen, despite being laminated for reduced glare, is actually brighter than the Kindle.

Getting back to the subject of reading Comic Books, both the #KindleFire and the #NookTablet come with their own built in comic book e-reader, but both will also allow download of popular comic book reading applications, such as “Comixology” and “Perfect Reader.”  Both apps cost around three dollars and have a slight lag in the page turning department, which is surprising given Kindle’s duel core processor.  But software updates to remedy this are said to be forthcoming.  Actually, if you’re anticipating reading comics on one of these things, I would simply recommend the 10.1 screen size of the larger Samsung Galaxy Tab.  It’s a big jump in cost, but it’s worth it for reading comics.  (Remember that ‘electronic comic book’ idea Tom Hanks character had in the movie “BIG?”  The Samsung 10.1 Galaxy Tab is precisely THAT item.  The screen is 1280 x 800; perfect for comics.)

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

A big drawback for the Nook, is that Amazon has a much larger library than Barnes & Noble.  And another knock against both, is that neither device has a camera — though the Nook Tablet does have a microphone.  Again, if interactive features are more attractive to you for some reason, you might want to go with another tablet, such as the iPad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

In summation, if you’re just going to buy one of these to read books, I would personally recommend the smaller black-and-white Kindle Touch for $99.  If you want to also occasionally watch a movie and check your email  (when near Wi-Fi,) I would recommend the Kindle Fire.  If you’re a student and want to hide the fact that your reading comics, get the Nook Tablet — it’s amazingly smooth at this, due to better processor and memory.  And if you can afford a better option, and want full interactivity, including HD video, a camera, a microphone, etc., then I would suggest either the Apple iPad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab.  I hope this information helps you make your decision.  Whether you intend to purchase for yourself, or as a gift.  However, as always, you should really get out there and physically hold these things “before” purchasing anything on-line.


Amazon’s Link for the Kindle Fire:  http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Fire-Amazon-Tablet/dp/B0051VVOB2/ref=tsm_1_fb_kin_111114_B0051VVOB2

Barnes & Noble’s Link for the Nook Tablet: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/nook-tablet-barnes-noble/1104687969?cm_mmc=Facebook-_-NOOK-_-product_page-_-acclaim_buy_now

Samsung’s Link for their Galaxy Tab 10.1: http://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/galaxytab/10.1/index.html

Apple’s Link for their iPad 2: http://www.apple.com/ipad/


3 responses

  1. Some additional non-technical info I found: http://www.androidapps.com/tech/articles/10206-the-best-tablet-alternatives-to-the-ipad-2

    November 21, 2011 at 8:54 PM

  2. Here’s good companion article.


    November 25, 2011 at 10:23 AM

  3. Consumer reports on the black & white Kindle and Nook models: http://news.consumerreports.org/electronics/2011/11/nook-simple-touch-tops-kindle-touch-in-our-e-book-reader-ranking.html

    November 30, 2011 at 12:32 PM

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