I was in the market for a lightweight tablet that I could use to read books, magazines and occasionally use apps for entertainment. My Smartphone is already great at taking photos, SMS and enabling me to view the latest news from top publishers and social networking sites.
Both the Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire seemed to fit the bill and I spent a couple of days with them before deciding which one to keep. The Nook Tablet has a higher price tag than the Kindle Fire: $250 versus $200. However, you can get a $25 instant discount towards the Nook at a local B&N store if you enroll as a new member.
Side-by-side both the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire are both beautiful devices and easy to hold with one hand. They both have a 7” screen, which is significantly smaller than the Apple iPad and great for traveling light. The Nook Tablet is slightly lighter in weight and felt more comfortable to hold for extended periods of time. Barnes and Noble did well to put a more textured surface on the back of the Nook.
The screen on the Kindle Fire is noticeably more glossy in appearance with slightly more vivid colors. While, this is great for viewing video in ideal lighting conditions, it does not bode as well when reading either books, magazines or web content for extended periods of time. I found the Nook Tablet to be much better suited for reading under sunlight and artificial light overhead. My wife has kindly reminded me that her standard Kindle (with B&W eInk technology) is still the best for reading books with the least amount of eye strain.
Personalization is one of the key features I look for on my electronic devices. The Nook Tablet let me personalize my home screen with a photograph I’d taken recently and icons for my favorite books, apps and magazines. The Kindle Fire on the other hand shows a more common flipping interface to enable access to books, apps, music, video, etc.
The Kindle Fire beats the Nook when it comes to music and video content online. Amazon services are great in this regard and let you chose from a fairly comprehensive library online. The Nook Tablet gives you access to multimedia content through Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, which works well enough for me, since I am already a subscriber.
Both the Kindle and Nook have a rich selection of books, magazines and apps. Barnes & Noble is unique in letting you read books for free while using your Nook at their local store (for up to an hour a day). This is a great feature, since it lets me delve into books and reference guides in more detail before purchasing them online. On the Kindle Fire, you can download a sample first chapter to preview before making a purchase decision.
Overall, I enjoyed using both the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, although my Kindle Fire is going back to Amazon tomorrow. It is a good device, but the design elegance of the Nook combined with a more readable screen, homepage personalization and access to free in-store book content made my Nook experience more enjoyable.
Winner: Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet
Updated on 3/26/2012
After a few months of use, I continue to be impressed with the Nook Tablet. Although, I do miss being able to download movies onto the device when travelling. The app marketplace also doesn’t offer nearly as much variety as either the Apple iPad or the Amazon marketplace.