Battle Of The Budget Tablets: Nook Tablet vs Kindle Fire

The battle for the holiday season budget tablets is heating up as Barnes and Noble, the last stand of retail bookstores, announced the Nook Tablet, its answer to Amazon's Kindle Fire. A showdown between the last stand of the physical bookstore and the giant of online retail, does the Nook stand a chance against the Fire? Lets take an in depth look at these two tablets and the services they offer.

The announcement of the Kindle Fire flipped the conventions of the tablet market upside down, with its premium components and a price tag that'll fit a college student's budget, it's definitely the most anticipated tablet of the holiday season. Amazon also turned the table on the previous king of the budget tablet, the Nook Color from Barnes and Noble, making it seem like month old milk. Not to be left off of Santa's gift list, Barnes and Noble punches back with the Nook Tablet, an upgrade to the Nook Color and matches it up with its own cloud services.

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Necessary Geeky Comparison

In the story of the budget tablet, the battle is really in the services, but it's difficult to talk about devices without comparing them directly, spec for spec, and see how they match up.

Starting from the outside, the Nook Tablet matches up with Amazon Fire quite well, the dimensions and the weight of both devices are almost identical. Both devices boast a 7" IPS display with the 1024x600 resolution. The Nook claims to have a "fully laminated" screen which reduces glare that plagues most tablets on the market. The Nook Tablet has a striking resemblance to its older brother the Nook Color.

On the inside, is where the Nook Tablet tries to differentiate itself from its competition. Although both contain the same processor, the 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP processors, the Nook doubles the measely 8GB storage of the Kindle with 16GB of internal storage. The Nook Tablet rocks 1GB of ram, twice that of the Kindle Fire, and also allows users to expand its storage with support up to 32GB of microSD card.

We think with both aiming to expand its multimedia capabilities, the expandable memory is a huge plus for the Nook Tablet. The expandable memory will allow you to put more music and movies onto your tablet. And with Android's notorious use of resources, the extra RAM will definitely be more of a need than a luxury.

Here's an overall look at how the Nook Tablet stand up to the Kindle Fire:

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The Real Story: Services

Since neither tablet are aiming to become the fastest, and most feature rich tablet on the market, the differentiator in this class is definitely the services. We've discussed Amazon's cloud offerings in the past, and being a online company, it definitely has a leg up on Barnes and Nobles in terms of online services. But that doesn't mean the Barnes and Nobles came to the fight without a weapon.

Nook Cloud. This is the first step B&N is taking to expand its cloud offerings, free cloud storage for its users. Although Barnes and Nobles has not announced any details on its Nook Cloud services, it has to be pretty compelling for users to base their decision on this alone. Amazon already offers cloud storage services, which allow users to get 5GB free with additional cost to upgrade.

Physical Presence. What Barnes and Nobles is really betting on is what Amazon could never achieve (at least not in their current business), its physical presence. B&N is really selling real-life support, which allows any Nook Tablet users to waltz in the store and ask a real person for technical support. And another in-store perk for Nook users is the ability to get up to an hour a day of book browsing while in store. So if there's a Barnes and Nobles near you, you'll be able to go in the store and browse their books, all without having to give up your seat.

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Our Verdict

We are definitely torn between the two excellent entries in budget tablet class. The two tablets are so similar the decision really came down to price and services for us. Amazon's Kindle Fire is just too strong to deny. The Kindle Fire comes in at $199, $50 lower than the Nook Tablet, and its strong multimedia portfolio, it is difficult to recommend the Nook Tablet over it. However, if you're a frequent Barnes and Noble visitor, and own over 16GB of media, then the Nook Tablet should definitely be a serious consideration.

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