Kindle Fire vs. Nook Tablet: A Direct Comparison
Had a chance to play with a Nook Tablet today and make some direct comparisons to the Kindle Fire. I have to say overall the hardware has a better look and feel on the Nook Tablet than the Kindle Fire - it was more comfortable in my (admittedly large) hand, mostly because the bezel is a little larger and the overall unit is a bit bigger. The Nook Tablet is ever-so-slightly lighter as well. It doesn't have that same dense feel that the Fire has, though some actually prefer that as indicative of quality. The build on the Nook Tablet seemed good, and the design (love it or hate it) is more distinctive. The finish - sort of a champagne or titanium look, was actually quite nice.
I found the interface quite speedy, though it wasn't without its flaws. There were some lags and some glitches, but I think it's pretty much a draw with the Kindle Fire on that front. The browser was quick but pretty basic, not much better or worse than the Fire. I think the Fire's promise of faster browsing isn't quite delivered yet - maybe it's hype or maybe the Amazon servers are "learning" and getting better. Either way, browsing is a wash.
Overall the experience of the Nook Tablet felt a lot more "locked in" than the Fire. The Amazon App Store experience is a lot better than the same feature on the Nook Tablet, both because of the number of apps just the way the shopping is presented. The Fire wins as well for the cloud feature - it's really nice to be able to see what you have bought or tried but perhaps don't have on your device at the moment.
As for music and videos, the Fire's the clear winner. Amazon nailed the video store/Prime Video experience almost perfectly. The Nook Tablet has apps for Hulu and Netflix, but you don't get the same sense that you could just suddenly decide to watch a good movie or TV show, or download music that you know you'll like. And knowing that Amazon has that recommendation-engine working overtime in the cloud makes me a lot more confident that Amazon will recommend good music, videos, and apps.
So I guess the conclusion is about the same as what I expected; if you're looking to root a device, the Nook Tablet is probably the one to buy. If you're looking for a more straight-forward way to consume entertainment and occasionally do some browsing, email or play some games (and maybe do a little work too) the Fire is the better device, provided you're willing to limit yourself to just 5GB of accessible storage.
One More Thing: I forgot about the buttons. The Nook Tablet has four buttons - one power button on the upper left side, two volume buttons on the upper right side, and the "home" button in the lower front part of the screen. I found the hardware buttons on the nook to be well positioned to minimize accidental touches, and also found them to have a good click-feel - not too hard, not too soft. The Home button, shaped like a lower case n, I found to be harder to press and unresponsive - the shape makes it too clever by half, I think. Anyway, those who like buttons (or need them for an easy Android ICS swap) should find the buttons one more reason to get the nook.
Last edited by weatherman; 11-16-2011 at 08:41 PM.