Amazon Inc. (NASADAQ:AMZN) released the latest version of its tablet device, the Kindle Fire HD, earlier this month, and it has been greeted with rave reviews. But, not long after the Kindle Fire HD was released, Barnes and Noble (NYSE:BKS) announced the latest version of its tablet device, the Nook HD, which was created specifically to compete with Amazon in the low-budget tablet market. The two devices have lots of similarities and are priced exactly the same, making it difficult for any consumer to choose between the two.
The Amazon Kindle Fire HD continues the tradition of Kindle Fire tablets by being extremely affordable and offering lots of content to users through Amazon Prime. Until Barnes and Noble released the Nook HD earlier this week, the Kindle Fire HD was easily one of the best 7-inch tablet one the market. Now that the Nook HD is out, the best 7-inch tablet on the market is much less clear.
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Here's how the Kindle Fire HD and the Nook HD compare:
Operating system: The Kindle Fire HD comes pre-installed with a highly modified version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Although the operating system is slightly outdated, most users won't be able to notice because Amazon has essentially created its own closed version of Android. Because Amazon has installed its own highly modified version of Android, users are not able to access the full Google Play market. Only some apps are available for the Kindle Fire HD, all of which must been downloaded through the Amazon Appstore, which offers about 50,000 apps.
The Nook HD also runs on a highly modified version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. This also means that users will not be able to access the full version of the Google Play market, which is a huge downfall in our eyes. Users can access media from the Barnes and Noble Nook Apps, which offers about 6,000 apps.
Winner: Kindle Fire HD (Amazon Appstore has thousands more apps)
Performance: The Amazon Kindle Fire HD runs on a Dual-core 1.2GHZ Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 processor. The powerful processor is backed by 1 GB of RAM. The Kindle Fire starts with 16 GB of internal memory, but can be upgraded to a version with 32 GB of internal memory. It also has excellent Wi-Fi connectivity, with a dual-band MIMO antenna. The Kindle Fire HD has been touted for its excellent hardware by some of the most popular tech reporters on the Web.
Not to be outdone, the Nook HD includes a 1.3 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 processor that's backed by 1 GB of RAM. The Nook HD starts with just 8GB of internal memory, but it can be upgraded to 16GB of memory for a small increase in price. The storage capacity of the device can also be expanded via a microSD card slot.
Winner: Nook HD (better processor; expandable memory via MicroSD)
Display: The Amazon Kindle Fire HD is best known for its upgraded high-definition screen that shows images at a 1280 x 800 resolution. The tablet's screen also has 216 pixels-per-inch that allows for the device to emit incredibly detailed images.
The Nook HD follows in the footsteps of its predecessors, offering an incomparable display. The Nook HD shows images at a 1440 x 900 resolution on a screen that packs 243 pixels-per-inch. When it's all said and done, this is easily the best-looking screen of any 7-inch tablet.
Winner: Nook HD (better resolution)
Price: Both tablets are priced at the highly competitive $199 price point. The Amazon Kindle Fire can be upgraded to 32 GB of memory for $249 and the Nook HD can be upgraded to 16GB of storage for $229. Users should take into account that the Nook HD has an expandable memory card slot that allows its storage capacity to be increased cheaply and easily via microSD.
Winner: Tie (both start at $199)
Conclusion: The 7-inch tablet market is one of the most competitive when it comes to mobile devices. The Kindle Fire HD and the Nook HD can easily be considered two of the best devices at the $199 price point and at this size. When it comes down to it, the Nook HD has the better processor and better storage capacity when considering the expandable microSD card slot. It's also about 2oz. lighter than the Kindle Fire HD. The design of the Nook HD is arguably better-looking, too.
Since both devices are unable to access the full Google Play store, we'd recommend looking at another 7-inch tablet such as the Google Nexus 7. But, if you don't mind limited access to apps, then there's a clear winner at this price point.
Winner: Barnes and Noble Nook HD (better display, better processor, expandable memory)