When the Amazon Kindle Fire was announced, we were all pretty excited about its tablet-meets-e-reader form factor, low price, and powerful hardware. Barnes & Noble has fired back this morning with an equally impressive device (and in some aspects even more so), albeit with a slightly higher price tag. As always, both devices offer features that make them unique from each other -- but, at the end of the day, which one is the better choice?

Let's throw both devices in the ring and see how they fare with one another, shall we? First up, specs:

NOOK Tablet


  • 7-inch IPS lamination display
  • 1GHz dual-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB storage with SD card slot
  • 400 grams
  • 9 Hours of video playback, 11.5 hours of read-time
  • $249

Amazon Kindle Fire


  • 7-inch IPS display
  • 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP4 processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage, no SD card slot
  • 413 grams
  • 7.5 hours locally-stored video playback, 8 hours read-time
  • $199

With specs out of the way, let's take a closer look at each one to get a better idea of which device is the better buy this holiday season.


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This one is really hard to judge considering neither device is out yet. With that said, B&N claims that the display on the NT is superior (like they would admit it if it's not) due to its fully laminated display. Comparatively, though, the Kindle Fire has a "chemically strengthened" display that is said to be "20 to 30 times harder than plastic." The bottom line: we won't really know which display is better until we have both devices in-hand to compare side-by-side.


While B&N didn't specify which model processor the NT has under the hood, it was previously rumored to be an OMAP4 -- the same one that's in the Kindle Fire. Point in case: if it's the same processor, it's the same processor.


This is one of the areas in which there is a clear difference. The NOOK Tablet has a full 1GB of RAM, while the Kindle Fire is stuck at half of that amount. For multitasking, that extra 512MB of RAM is a definite asset; considering both devices are running Gingerbread at their core, the memory management is basically the same, which gives the NT a clear advantage.


On paper, it looks like the NOOK is the clear winner in this area, but digging below the surface reveals that this may not be the case. While the NOOK clearly has more built-in storage, the Kindle relies more on cloud storage. That said, the NOOK also has a microSD card slot, which will allow the user to expand the storage by up to 32GB more. This is an upside because then the NOOK is usable in areas without Wi-Fi connectivity, whereas the Kindle will require constant connection in order to provide access to all user data. All-in-all, it really depends on how and where you plan on using your device the most. Always around a Wi-Fi connection? The Kindle should far just find. If not, however, the NOOK is probably a better choice.


The weight difference between the two devices is so minimal it's almost negligible. The Fire weighs a mere 413 grams, while the NOOK is a tiny bit lighter at 400 grams. Either way you look at it, these devices are both quite light.

Battery Life

According to B&N, you can expect up to 9 hours of video playback on the Nook Color, which is about an hour and a half longer than what Amazon is saying the Fire can get. As far as read time is concerned, the NOOK ups the Fire's offering by a whopping 3.5 hours. Of course, real world use is always drastically different than manufacturer specs show, so we'll have to wait and see how these devices really compare in this area.

Software and Content

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Since the hardware specs are so similar, this is where the real comparison comes into play. If you frequently use Amazon services -- Amazon Cloud Player, Kindle Reader, Prime, Amazon Appstore, etc. -- then the Kindle is definitely the device for you. However, the NOOK Tablet has its own share of goodies as well, like NOOK Comics, which offers the largest digital collection of Marvel graphic novels of any device; NOOK Newsstand, a place to grab all of the most popular magazines and newspapers; deep Netflix integration, and read and record functionality that allows you to record yourself reading one of the many available children's books for later playback.


Okay, so we've determined that the NOOK has more RAM, weighs less, and potentially offers better battery life than the Kindle. How much is that extra oomph worth to you? $50? Because that's the price difference we're talking about. The Kindle Fire will intro for $199 right out of the gate -- an extremely competitive price point, considering the NOOK Color is just now seeing a sub-$200 price tag -- while the NOOK Tablet will be set at $250. Same processor, same display size, same underlying version of Android.

All things considered, which one would you pick?

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Jakub Glodek

    I have Amazon Prime and will continue to subscribe to it, thus, the Kindle is my pick. Being that you are purchasing this device for a 2-3 year period, the extra $50 does not provide enough for me to go with it. I will feel better buying something better in 2-3 years and saving the $50 now.

    • Nathan

      Jakub brings up a good point. The Fire is $50 cheaper up front, but actually more expensive in the long run - at $80/year for a Prime account to keep the content flowing through the Fire.

      • https://plus.google.com/116930094233210246792 Xcom923

        The problem with that statement is that you are assuming that you have to buy amazon prime, you don't. Also I might add that most people considering the Fire probably already have prime thus no extra money coming out of their pocket which makes the fire a better buy. However with that said I wouldn't get a fire for myself (despite me having it preordered) I need something with more power...but I think I'd rather save for the transformer prime.

        • Jason Hanford-Smith

          Yes but if you DON'T subscribe to Amazon Prime, what then is the advantage of the Fire over the NT other than the $50, which over the course of two years is just $2/month depreciation.

          As a frequent traveller to places with patchy (and sometimes no) WIFI, I prefer the storage and expandability of the NT over the Prime.

          Also, if it turns out that the NT can run custom ROMs as easily as the NC, there's another dev win. I suspect the Fire will be extremely locked down and with no microSD slot, hard to hack.

  • David

    I have to think that given Amazon's position in offering data and services is a huge Pro for it.

  • Silenz

    I pick the one that gets the best custom ROM :)

  • Rick Morayniss

    Since The VOX is in the same gagdet type as the Nook and Fire, why is it not also reviewed and compared?

  • Freak4Dell

    The NT clearly wins as far as specs go, but I think I'd still pick up the KF if I were trying to choose between these two. The Amazon ecosystem is nice and seems to be constantly evolving. I don't know much about the B&N ecosystem, but since I haven't heard much about it, it's probably safe to assume that it's not all that great.

    • noother84

      but that's like saying
      -iOS is clearly better than Android
      -BestBuy is clearly better than CircuitCity
      -HP, DELL, Toshiba etc is better than ASUS

      and so forth..

      • Freak4Dell

        No, it's not. The NT has clearly outlined specs that the KF either doesn't have, or that are just better than the KF.

        16GB vs. 8GB storage, microSD slot vs. no expandable memory, 1GB RAM vs. 512MB RAM, etc.

        These are all objective comparisons rather than subjective ones. The subjective comparison is the ecosystem, and that's left up to personal choice.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8YprCzWm0g JS

    I would prefer the Kindle Fire over a Nook because of the Amazon integration. I am a Prime subscriber, use Amazon Cloud for documents and MP3's, Kindle books, etc.
    I think that the cheaper Kindle Fire has a better chance of outperforming since Amazon has been working hard to integrate customers into different things that they wouldn't normally use. The Fire is to me what the iPhone is to people who use iTunes a lot. The Kindle seems to be the component that pulls all of the other services together to generate customer sales.
    Those free trials Amazon gives out may be about to pay off big time for the bottom line.

  • matt

    All those Amazon cloud services will work just as well on a rooted, CM 7 or 9 Nook Tablet. My Nook Color has Amazon mp3, Amazon Market, etc. If NT is as easy as the NC for after market firmware, anyone with any amount of technical savvy should go for NT. Double the RAM makes a huge difference in everyday tasks, plus having an SD card slot makes it more practical to watch a couple movies on a roadtrip, long flight, etc.

  • Bazar6

    Was looking at the Fire for the gf for Christmas (she likes playing on the Xoom), but I don't like 8GB with no SD... being on the metro a lot (and with an unrooted phone, so no wifi hotspot), I'm not sure how that will hold up. I know they're not going to try to keep the Fire's bootloader secure, but is the NT going to be open? I'd like to see how they integrate Gingerbread in to it, and if they still allow some customization to it (or are they just a 7" phone with B&N/Amazon's built-in limitations)?

    • Nathan

      I believe most of the content will require a wifi connection to work on the Fire. I don't think it has a way to its connection on the Metro (like PDANet through a smartphone).

      • Bazar6

        Sounds like I'll shell out the extra $50 lol

  • UKAndroid

    I can't see Amazon content being exclusive to the Fire - why would Amazon restrict their ongoing content revenue by keeping is tied only to the Kindle.

    I think a lot of people who got hyped when the Fire was annnounced and pre-ordered, will now be cancelling and going for the new Nook as for very little extra money, they will be getting a much superior device.

    How the new Nook will fare against a forthcoming Fire Mk.2 remains to be seen as the original Fire appears to be a "rushed to market" product.

    • https://plus.google.com/116930094233210246792 Xcom923

      Rushed? really. I thought they took their time to build up an ecosystem before introducing the product. In fact they could have done this a while ago but they didn't and even if Nook out performs the fire I don't think they'll hurt it much. Amazon has much more mind-share than B&N but of course that's just my prediction. Well have to wait till next week to see the results of the first day sales ('cause you know everyone is going to compare)

  • wolverineguy55

    I am going for the Nook Tablet. The largest part of this decision is that I have already invested in the Nook ecosystem.
    The Kindle Fire is compelling. The price is phenomenal as are the perks for Amazon Prime Customers.
    In terms of hardware, the edge goes to the Nook Tablet. Extra RAM is always good, as is the extra storage options. Storage for the Kindle Fire is a big question mark. Yes, they have free cloud storage for all Amazon content. What about other content? Is cloud storage unavailable or do you have to pay for it?
    The extra RAM should make the Nook Tablet a better performer.
    With respect to the ecosystem, this is a tough one. On one hand, you have the Kindle Fire that has all of Amazon's services integrated. On the other hand, you have the Nook Tablet with B&N's books, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Rhapsody, and Spotify. The Amazon setup is very Apple-like with both the advantages and disadvantages of a single source. The B&N setup is very Android like with the user able to get content from various sources. It comes down to simplicity vs. flexibility.
    I think both are winners and consumers are winners for having two great choices.

    • Shelby

      Does Nook Tablet have Spotify? I just purchased it today, but cannot find how to download it for the life of me. Help!!

  • David

    Sooooo...how DEEEEEP is the Netflix integration...

  • Bazar6

    @Jason Hanford-Smith: Amazon already said they're not going to try to stop you from hacking the Fire:

    Course that doesn't mean it won't already be nearly impossible out of the box.

  • Lisa

    I have the Nook Color. But I changed the ROM so it just runs android (CM7). So I am able to use all the Amazon and B&N apps. I love my Nook. So with that said, I would likly take the Nook.

  • Slipgate

    Or you could pay another $50 past the NT and get a real tablet... I was looking at the Fire pretty closely, but finding out that it doesn't have a sd slot makes the choice between the two obvious. The problem I'm having now is deciding between the NT and a HTC Flyer.

  • Jason Hanford-Smith

    @Bazar6 and @Lisa,

    You both make my point. The NC is already a great device from it's hackability point of view. Hopefully they (BN) have not decided to close that door. We'll see.

    Amazon have said they will not STOP you rooting, etc., but given the lack of MicroSD slot and they're highly modified (branched?) version of Android, who knows how easy that will actually be? We'll see.

    At the moment, it's NT's to lose. I'm not swayed by Amazon's Prime services (I have no need for them), but if I'm in the market for a faster than NC 7" tablet that's rootable, etc., the NT seems the likely choice at the moment

  • Nathan Curtis

    I have Amazon prime and I'm still going for the nook. Where I live (king county, wa) the libraries use epub books and kindle doesn't support that. I have an original nook and love it. I was considering the fire, but now it's nook all the way. I just hope that it can have Google music support, or will with a ROM.

    • Tom Semple

      King County library supports Kindle format. Plus, it's much easier to get library content on Kindle than with Nook, where all such things need to be side-loaded.
      Also where you prefer ePub, you should be able to read that on Fire with 3rd party apps from Amazon Appstore (Aldiko, Mantano).

  • ScooterGeez

    I'll get neither and make due with my Galaxy Tab 8.9.

  • liquidkermit

    NT has microSD slot, it should be easier to implement custom firmware. NC has CM7 already, and I believe CM will come to NT as well. Or maybe when CM has ICS, we can have ICS on NT, rooted, then get amazon service

  • Steve

    Tom Semple

    "Plus, it's much easier to get library content on Kindle than with Nook, where all such things need to be side-loaded."

    Umm.... I actually just downloaded 2 books from my library via wi-fi from my bedroom. No side loading here. Oh, and the library is 5 miles away. and I'm still in my pajamas

  • Loving the Nook

    I believe that the most important features to compare are the ones not shown... file type support is at the top:

    Nook Tablet

    Load EPUB (including Adobe DRM or DRM free) or PDF file types from your computer or microSD card
    Watch videos in MP4, or Adobe Flash Player format, 3GP, 3G2 MKV, WEBM (Video Codecs: H.264, MPEG-4, H.263, VP8)
    Load photos and create personal wallpaper: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP
    Play audio on built-in mono speaker: MP3, MP4, AAC, AMR, WAV, OGG (Audio Codecs MP3, AAC, AMR, LPCM, OGG Vorbis)

    Kindle Fire

    Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8.

    That said... you can take your Nook into any B&N and read any ebook in their extensive library for an hour a day (FREE!). Additionally, you can get ePub - digital books loaned from your local library. You can't do either with the Kindle. So at $50 more for the NT, my wife will "borrow" 3 new titles from the library and "pay" for the difference in 6 weeks.

    Don't forget the free books on Friday, and the coupons for free Starbucks drinks sent right to the Nook aren't too bad either.

  • loving the Nook

    Consider also that Amazon has actually gone in and taken books away from people that have purchased them legitimately because there was a rights issue with the publisher. How much does that suck to have a book you purchased vanish?

    With the new lending initiative, I expect to see the same.

    "Kindle owners who subscribe to its Amazon Prime programme will now be able to download one free e-book a month from a selection of 5,000 titles in the library. However, according to the US trade website Publishers Marketplace, publishers and agents said that some featured titles had been placed in "this new initiative without the consent or affirmative participation of the publishers and rightsholders". Amazon has already admitted that in some cases "it was purchasing a title each time it is borrowed by a reader under standard wholesale terms as a no-risk trial to demonstrate to publishers the incremental growth and revenue opportunity that this new service presents - WSJ."

    Note that: None of the six largest publishers in the U.S. is participating and that Kindle "borrowers" will be limited to one book at a time, and only one per month.

    Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204621904577014273003626952.html#ixzz1d8Kf2olU

    Again... gotta love the Nook. At least B&N has a rock solid relationship with publishers and understands lending... and it doesn't cost you $80 a year to borrow one title a month.

  • StephenM

    Given that Amazon Prime is unavailable in Canada, I am not holding my breath on getting a Kindle Fire in Canada any time soon either. I love my Kindle Keyboard, but my next Kindle will likely be a eInk Kindle, maybe a Kindle Touch. I will likely spring for a Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the Spring for that tablet experience. It is more full-featured than either the Kindle Fire. As well, up here in Canuckistan, the choice is between the Fire, if it becomes available here, and the Kobo Vox. For now, I expect that the Vox will own the Canadian bookstore tablet market.

  • Perry

    All things considered if you ARE a prime member then the Nook is the best bet. On the Nook you should still be able to download the amazon app market and you can still load/save all your music/videos/files to the cloud drive which is free if you're a prime member. Unless of course B&N prevents you from loading amazon app market. Hardware is hardware and for an extra $50 you're getting twice the RAM. twice the on board storage and an micro SD card slot. Well worth the extra $$ if you ask me.

  • John Connell

    I love my Nook Tablet, a Christmas present from my wife. It's really fast. It's functions rival those of the iPad but it's way cheaper. Every day I find new cool things I can do with my NT and it's so light and easy to carry around the house. Some say content creation is missing but I think there is a way to get a small version of MS Word lite for the NT. I will consider it for taking notes on the go.

  • Shelby

    Does Nook Tablet have Spotify? I just purchased it today, but cannot find how to download it for the life of me. Pleaaase help!!