Nook Tablet vs. Kindle Fire: A Guide to Decide

By  |  Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 8:51 am

Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire

If it’s a cheap tablet you’re after, Barnes & Noble and Amazon want your business. Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s $249 Nook Tablet both look promising on paper—the former with its suite of Amazon services, and latter with its superior specs and more diverse streaming video offerings—but chances are, you’ve only got room for one tablet on your holiday wish list.

As is often the case with gadgets, finding the best 7-inch tablet is a matter of figuring out your personal needs. Below, I’ll divvy up the strengths of the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire so you can figure out what’s most important.


The Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire both have app stores, but Amazon’s tablet has a bigger selection. Its gaming library, in particular, is much more diverse, with categories for RPGs, strategy games, shooters and more, whereas the Nook focuses mostly on lighter fare. The Amazon Appstore also offers more free apps, and gives away one paid app every day.

Advantage: Kindle Fire

Streaming Media

Netflix is integrated with the Nook Tablet, pushing recommendations to the user’s home screen, and Hulu Plus is pre-loaded, making Barnes & Noble’s tablet a strong streaming video device. Although the Kindle Fire has its own streaming video service through Amazon Prime, it’s only ideal for people who already subscribe to the $79-per-year service for something else, be it the limited book rental library or free two-day shipping. For everyone else, the Nook Tablet’s video services have a better selection and wider availability on other devices, such as smartphones and game consoles. Streaming music is a toss-up, with both tablets offering apps for Pandora, MOG and Rhapsody. (UPDATE: The Kindle Fire will be getting a Netflix app at launch. I’m still giving the edge to the Nook Tablet for now for its Hulu Plus support.)

Advantage: Nook Tablet


The Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet hit all the same feature checkboxes for e-reading. Both devices offer millions of e-books, plus newspapers and magazines. For parents, the Nook Tablet gets a slight edge for its “Read and Record” capability, which lets you record your own story narrations, but Amazon Prime members will prefer the Kindle Fire for its selection of free e-book rentals. Comic book fans will be divided; the Nook Tablet will have graphic novels from Marvel, while the Kindle Fire has a deal with DC.

Advantage: Toss-Up

On-Demand Media

No contest here. The Kindle Fire will let you purchase or rent videos on demand, and includes access to Amazon’s MP3 store. Best of all, any content you purchase from Amazon is stored online for free, so you won’t have to worry about wasting storage space on the device. The Nook Tablet doesn’t have a way to let you buy music and video on the device, so you’ll have to bring your own content from elsewhere.

Advantage: Kindle Fire

Straight-Up Specs
Although the Nook Tablet is $50 more expensive than the Kindle Fire, you get your money’s worth in raw power. Barnes & Noble’s slate has twice the RAM at 1 GB and twice the built in storage at 16 GB, plus a microSD card slot for even more storage. Otherwise, the two tablets have similar specs, including dual-core processors and 7-inch, 1024-by-600 resolution displays. If you plan to hack either tablet to run a pure version of Android, the Nook Tablet’s extra RAM will be worth the extra scratch, but either way, its generous storage will come in handy.

Advantage: Nook Tablet

Little Details and Intangibles

Specs and features only go so far. Both tablets look good on paper, but either one could be buggy, laggy, unresponsive or otherwise broken at launch. And although Barnes & Noble brags about how the Nook Tablet is lighter than Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the two have very similar proportions, so the difference really comes down to how each one feels in your hands.

Barnes & Noble has one more advantage in its ability to offer free support, free Wi-Fi and special offers for Nook Tablet owners at its retail stores. Amazon, meanwhile, plays to its own strength in web services. The Kindle Fire offers free cloud storage for purchased content, and includes a web browser called Silk that taps Amazon’s web servers to load pages faster. I’m not going to pick a winner or categorically declare one tablet better than the other—at least not until I’ve tried both of them in finished form.

[This post republished from Techland.]

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14 Comments For This Post

  1. MJPollard Says:

    My choice is probably going to be whichever one is jailbroken first and turned into a real Android tablet…

  2. The_Heraclitus Says:

    I don't see the point of a "reader" that is backlit…

  3. Cynthia Says:

    Really wish the Kindle Fire had Hulu Plus. Then I would definitely buy it over the Nook Tablet!!

  4. carla ferguson Says:

    I checked and it does!

  5. joke Says:

    Here's the features of Nook Tablet – 1.0 Ghz dual-core processor, 1.0 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, battery is 11.5 hours reading and 9 hours of video, microSD slot up to 32 GB, fully non-glare laminated HD screen with the best viewing angles on the market, loaded with optimized Netflix, Hulu Plus and bunch of other apps (Pandora, Angry Birds, etc.), has a built-in microphone can be used with Skype for voice conferencing and for dictations with speech recognition software, weights only 14.1 oz

  6. Dana Rock Says:

    I think that the Kindle Fire will rock rock rock AFTER they come out with a second generation of them.

  7. Mike Cerm Says:

    I think that you should changed the image to reflect the true size of these devices, because the image you have is very misleading. In real life, the Kindle Fire is noticeably smaller than the Nook Tablet.

  8. Andrys Says:

    Hulu Plus and ESPN ScoreCenter were added Friday to Kindle Fire so your post will need another update.

    Re 16 gig internal storage on Nook Tablet: the BN comparison page Footnote 6 says
    "" 1GB = 1 billion bytes. Actual formatted capacity may be less. Approximately 13GB available to store content, of which up to 12GB may be reserved for content purchased from the Barnes & Noble NOOK Store. "

    That's at

    I've had a NookColor for a year and will also get the Kindle Fire — but am also looking at the Asus Transfomer Prime for a 10" although' my 10" netbook at 2.7 lbs + slots galore on it tends to keep me from impulse 10" tablet buys;.

  9. Bill Says:

    I do not get the point of B&N having free WiFi. There is free WiFi everywhere.

    Amazon has a deal with AT&T to allow zero configuration access to AT&T managed hotspots (in other words you do not have to do anything to attach just be in range)

    This includes Starbucks, McDonalds, and (Oh look at that) B&N.

    It is nice that B&N can offer in store special but isn't the point here that we will not be in stores to get our digital content.

    Bottom Line, the new Nook has some hard feature that exceed the Fire (memory, storage, and faster processor) but as far a media delivery device Amazon has the better ecosystem.

    Amazon has more apps, more content, and more potential. So get the Nook if you like, root it and put the Kindle reader, Audible player, and Cloud Player on it. But the Nook straight out of the box is not as good as the Knidle in my option.

  10. Kristen Says:

    Having worked at B&N: there is special in-store only available content that is offered to nook, nook color & nook tablet owners. (Using your smartphone won't work.) That's what gets people to come in to the store with their devices and browse for an hour or so — coming back to continue reading a book for free instead of having to pay for it — kinda like the folks who prefer paper bound books already do. (You can do your online shopping at home if you prefer, but I enjoy a latte with my freebies.)

  11. nancy ridley Says:

    can you transfer books from a kindle fire to a nook tablet?

  12. Dave Says:

    Here is another advantage of the Nook. You can stick an SD card in it and have a full version of Android running on it without any compromises.

  13. bhubba Says:

    I wonder if it's possible to use the Nook Tablet's built-in browser to access your music from the Amazon Cloud Drive? If not natively then I guess via rooted Nook.

  14. kindle fire vs ipad Says:

    Nook tablet seems to be stronger! I would love to bye one but impossible for me to get that soon 🙂
    look Kindle fire comparison ipad 2