"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Nook Tablet vs Kindle Fire vs iPad 2

Today Barnes & Noble officially introduced the Nook Tablet, successor to their Nook Color. Running Gingerbread (Android 2.3), the 7 inch tablet has 1 GIG of RAM and 16GB of storage with microSD slot to add more for a $250 price. All this sounds promising but really for most people, especially with Christmas around the corner, is what is the best tablet to buy - Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet or Apple iPad (or any tablet really like Xoom, Galaxy Tab 2, etc.)?

Does Screen Size and Weight Matter?
First let us set price aside. If money is an issue then skip straight down to debate between Nook Tablet vs. Kindle Fire because they are much cheaper than the iPad. Instead this section is about deciding if you want a regular tablet (iPad) or a mini one (Nook/Fire). The difference is partially one of speed but mostly one of screen size and slight differences in weight. The mini tablets come with a seven inch screen while the regular ones are 9.7" (iPad) or 10.1" (Xoom, etc.). When it comes to reading, the difference doesn't really matter. However, when it comes to movies or reading comics that difference might matter to you. For this reason my first recommendation isn't to order anything online just yet. Instead hit up Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, and so forth and check them out in person. Play around with that screen size; hold them in your hands. See if the screen size matters. The key here is party just trying to determine if those physical differences in the size and weight is significant enough to make a difference on your decision. If it does then once again, you decision becomes a whole lot easier. Too small a screen means regular tablet while to heavy means mini tablet.

Do Apps Matter to You?
Assuming the physical differences doesn’t matter, then the focus becomes about what is under the hood. Especially what do you think you will use it for? If only for reading books, get one of the $100 touch readers. Mentally think to yourself, "What do I use my regular computer for?" If you only use it to listen to music, surf the web and check your email, those habits will continue to the tablet. As a result there is no point in paying $500 for a regular size tablet.

What separates the iPad and mini tablets is the app store. Apple's is huge; Android's is still growing but has a way to go before catching up. A way to try to predict this is consider your smartphone or even how you might use a web browser like Chrome or Firefox. If you are not using or downloading the various apps the phone or browsers provide you, chances are you will not on the tablet. That kind of thing simply doesn't interest you. In short, if you like trying and using a bunch of different programs, go iPad. Sure the mini tablets will have apps too but not nearly of the same selection.

Nook Tablet vs. Kindle Fire (or to steam or not to stream)
Assuming tablet size doesn't matter and you could care less about apps then you probably decided that spending $500 for an iPad is too expensive but Kindle Fire at $200 or the Nook Tablet at $250 is just about right. At this point the decision almost comes down to a gut call because the differences between the two devices are minor in most areas as the image to the right shows. The main difference is memory where the Fire only has 8GB of space. Couple hundred songs or a few movies will eat that space up quick. The Nook has 16GB but more importantly it has a slot so that you could literally swap out your music and video files as you see fit since it can hold a 32GB microSD card.

As far as multimedia goes (music, movies, television) both devices will have Netflix, Hulu and Pandora access. Only difference really is the Kindle lets you stream movies and television through an $80 Amazon Prime subscription. If you have that, then definitely get the Kindle Fire. Really the only thing to consider is do you already have the files you plan on playing or do you stream your entertainment such as with Netflix? If you are providing the entertainment, go Nook due to the extra memory just keep in mind that the files have to be in the right format. Something easier said than done.

The decision on what tablet to buy has never been harder. The key is to know how you will likely use the devices and how much you want to spend. The iPad provides a larger screen but a greater weight with a focus on the use of apps to meet your daily entertainment and practical needs. The Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are designed mostly for reading, playing music and watching videos with a selection of apps as a kind of afterthought. The main difference between the two is the Fire assumes you will be streaming your content while the Nook hopes you will stream but allows for you to provide your own content.

I am a "power user" who has favorite apps that I can't do without so the iPad meets my entertainment needs with a regular kindle for reading. However, my parents surf the web, check email and watch movies (via Netflix). So for them, the bells and whistles don't matter. They are not going to be moving files back and forth; they don't care about what the "proper" format is. They just want it to work effortlessly, probably like most people. Based on those criteria, the iPad is too much machine at too high a price. As a result the decision becomes pretty straight forward - the Amazon Fire.

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