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
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.