With the holiday season fast approaching us, it’s the battle of the lower-priced tablets with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet that are both coming out next week.  With the popularity of tablets increasing, more and more companies are adding tablets to their model range, as they try to compete with Apple’s heavy share of the market thanks to their iPad 2. So as both come into the tablet game with reasonable prices and reputable specs, here’s the lowdown on how each measure up.

Size

Amazon’s Kindle Fire is sized at 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″ (190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm), while the Nook Tablet is just slightly larger, coming in at 8.1” x 5.0” x 0.48 “ (201 mm x 128 mm x 13.2 mm). Really, not much of a difference between the sizes so it’s a tie here. Interestingly, the Nook Tablet is actually lighter than the Kindle despite being a tad bigger. The Fire weighs 16.6 ounces, while the Nook comes in at 14.1 ounces. This can probably be because of the Nook’s use of plastic for the bezel.

Winner: It’s a tie here. They both are small and light, making it easy to hold, browse and read with one hand. The specs are so close that even though one is bigger and lighter, they both look as if you’d be able to travel with them and have no problems fitting them anywhere.

Appearance

The Nook sports an “easy-to-hold soft touch design,” while the Fire is said to be designed from the ground up and looks a bit like the Blackberry Playbook or the first-gen Galaxy Tab with its sleek, black design. But if the Nook Tablet is made like the original Nook Color (and it looks like it’s true) then the bezel of the Nook Tablet will feel a bit flimsy (and can actually bend back and forth if forced hard enough). In all truth, the Nook Tablet seems pretty identical to the Nook Color, except that it’s lighter, thinner and features a lighter-colored plastic.

Winner: The Kindle Fire just looks as if it’s built more solid and we’re not feeling that plastic bezel on the Nook, either. The Fire’s sleek, black design also provides more of a sophisticated look to a tablet that’s under $200.

Display

Both tablets feature 7-inch touchscreens, with high-res 1024 x 600, 169 pixels per inch (PPI) displays. On paper this is the same, but that doesn’t mean they both share the same exact parts.

Barnes and Noble is claiming that its Nook Tablet has the “world’s most advanced VividView touchscreen” that allows for remarkable clarity and minimal glare. The display is also fully laminated with no air gaps, which gives way for that aforementioned claim on clarity and reduced reflection. And since the Nook Tablet’s first use is for e-reading, the anti-glare is important for those who like to read both outdoors and indoors. It also sports adjustable fonts so that you can customize your reading experience, boasting: 8 text sizes; 6 font sizes; and the ability to change background colors, line and margin spacing.

The Kindle Fire sports a multi-touch display with IPS (in-plane switching technology – same tech found in the iPad 2) for extra-wide viewing angle, as well as some anti-reflective specs. The display is also chemically strengthened to be “20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic,” making it pretty durable and resistant to scrapes and scratches.

Winner: For readers, the Nook Tablet wins hands down for its adjustable fonts, but the Kindle Fire takes the cake since it boasts more features like an IPS panel, making it a better overall display for a tablet.

Operating System

Both boast Android-based operating systems with Android 2.3 “Gingerbread.

Winner: Tie since they’re both Androids.

Processor & RAM

Much like how they share the same display specs, both tablets actually run 1GHz TI OMAP 4 dual-core processors, providing fast and powerful performance for multi-tasking on the tablet. However, the Nook Tablet has 1 GB of RAM compared to the Kindle Fire’s 512 MB. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Nook Tablet is faster since performance is a combo of many things (including software) and they still share the same dual-core processor.

Winner: Based soley on specs the Nook wins this battle.  However, something tells us the Kindle Fire might be faster in terms of real world testing, though that claim is unfounded at this point.

Web Browser

Thanks to Amazon Silk, the Kindle Fire has ultra-fast web browsing. Silk is a cloud-accelerated browser that uses a “split browser” architecture, which leverages power and speed from Amazon’s Web Services cloud. Oh, and it supports Adobe Flash Player, too! The Nook Tablet sports enhanced web browsing that is said to be “lightning-fast,” which means you can get books under 10 seconds. And since it’s built for speed, you can switch between books, movies and games effortlessly.

Winner: Amazon Silk is pretty cool, so the Kindle Fire takes it here.

Storage

For on-device storage, the Kindle Fire has 8 GB, which is enough for 80 apps, plus 10 movies, 800 songs or 6,000 books, says Amazon. The Nook Tablet has a bit more with its 16 GB built-in memory (that’s up to 10,000 books), but can add up to 32 GB with a microSD memory card, resulting in 48 GB. But even though there’s no SD slot on the Kindle Fire, it does offer free cloud storage for all Amazon content, which sort of makes that low memory problem not a problem anymore since you can store all your Amazon digital content in the cloud and retrieve it at a touch of your finger.

Winner: The cloud service provides the Kindle Fire a win on this one. Even though you can store more on the actual device with the Nook Tablet, that cloud service allows you to store EVERYTHING without it sucking up memory on the Kindle Fire.

Apps

Because the Kindle Fire taps into the that cloud service it includes Amazon’s Web Services, Prime, Kindle, Instant Video, MP3 and the AppStore. The Amazon MP3 Store has more than 17 million songs, which you can stream your music library form the Amazon Cloud Drive or download them to your device to listen offline. Book worms can buy practically everything in the Kindle Store that offers more than 1 million books, in addition to more than 2 million free, out-of-copy, pre-1923 books. Oh, and for those that get a Prime membership ($79 a months for free two-day shipping, instant movie and TV show streaming and more), they can also access thousands of books through the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.

The Nook Tablet has some apps of its own that are pre-loaded like games and other favorites, while it has 2.5 million book titles. It also includes free trials of music services like Rhapsody, MOG and Grooveshark, while Pandora comes pre-loaded. It also comes pre-loaded with Netflix and Hulu Plus so that you can start watching HD movies and popular TV shows, with each including free trials. However, you can’t download from the Android app market.

Winner: Amazon’s Prime service provides a bit of an edge here, but that’s for those willing to pay and who use Amazon for practically everything. Besides, Amazon’s AppStore has actually been developed to rival that of the regular Android market so it’s pretty in-depth. Those who are book worms might like the larger selection of books that the Nook Tablet provides, but we still pick the Kindle Fire as the Winner for this battle.

Wireless Connectivity

The Nook Tablet has wireless connectivity via Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and free Wi-Fi in all Barnes & Noble stores. The Kindle Fire has supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or enterprise networks with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication. However it does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.

Winner: Tie again!

Camera and Video

Neither actually feature camera and video extras, but the Nook Tablet does boast a built-in microphone, so that you can record narration for kids’ Read and Record books. While it may not mean most to many, it can become useful when hacked, but this is for experts only.

Winner: The Nook Tablet all the way, especially since it can be hacked and can make VoIP calls possible.

Battery Life

The Nook Tablet might be able to provide a better battery life over the Kindle Fire with 11.5 hours of reading time and 9 hours of video playback with WiFi off, while the Fire has 8 hours of continuous reading and 7.5 hours of video playback with WiFi off. But, of course, battery life will vary based on wireless usage and more.  It’s worth noting that neither company has posted the mAh for each respective device.

Winner: The Nook Tablet wins on this one if their claims are exact.

Carriers

Niether tablet has wireless connectivity beyond WiFi, so this battle is moot.  However, we might see a 3G version of the Kindle Fire in the future, since Amazon’s other Kindles have supported this connectivity.

Winner: n/a

Price

The Kindle Fire will go for $199, while the Nook Tablet will sell for $249. But for that extra $50 bucks, you’ll get a better display, dedicated apps for Netflix and Hulu Plus, and free in-person support at any Barnes & Noble store.

Winner: Amazon’s Kindle Fire is $50 bucks cheaper, which can make all the difference this holiday season given the economy.

Overall Winner:

Kindle Fire

Size Winner: Tie
Appearance Winner: Kindle Fire
Display Winner: Kindle Fire
Operating System Winner: Tie
Processor & RAM Winner: Nook Tablet
Web Browser Winner: Kindle Fire
Storage Winner: Kindle Fire
Apps Winner: Kindle Fire
Wireless Winner: Tie
Camera and Video: Nook Tablet (thanks to a mic)
Battery Life Winner: Nook Tablet
Carriers Winner: n/a
Price Winner: Kindle Fire

The Kindle Fire.  It seems to be packed with some quality goodies for such a low price compared to the Nook Tablet. It comes with a free month of its Prime membership service, which might be just enough time to really grab enough attention to keep of an entire year. But for those looking for a cheap, but good tablet, the Kindle Fire is definitely the way to go.



Kristie Bertucci

 
Kristie Bertucci is an L.A.-based writer, who can't live without her MacBook Pro. When she's not writing, she's either reading or shopping (online, of course) and loves lazy days so she can catch up on her DVR-recorded shows and movies. She's definitely a Mac girl, she loves music and is currently on a mission to to have an insane and enviable iTunes library.