Product Reviews

Kindle Fire vs. Nook Tablet – Which Tablet Should You Buy?

Matt Smith 17-11-2011

kindle fireFor a time, it seemed that Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet would be launched without opposition from the company’s e-reader rival, Barnes and Noble. Not to be outdone, however, the retailer recently unveiled the Nook Tablet.


Both of these tablets are from retailers, both will have built-in stores, both have seven-inch touch screens and both run modified versions of Android. They’re very similar products for consumers with similar needs – so which should you buy?

Hardware Showdown

Barnes and Noble has been quick to trump the RAM and memory specifications of the Nook Tablet. It will have 16 gigabytes of storage and 1 gigabyte of RAM, and both specifications are double what the Kindle Fire offers. Better still, the Nook Tablet’s maximum memory capacity – counting the microSD card 3 Cool Ways To Use SD Memory Cards SD memory cards are one of the most common forms of mobile storage, but they also tend to be very specific in their purpose. On their own, these cards tend to be less useful than... Read More slot – adds up to a whopping 48GB. That’s almost as much as the SSD in my desktop!

That’s great. But when it comes to performance, the two tablets will likely be similar because they use the same SoC architecture, which is known as OMAP 4. This is a very quick part – the same used in the iPad 2, in fact – so it’s not as if these two tablets have lowered prices by offering sub-par processors.

kindle fire

Claimed battery life for the Fire is eight hours of reading with Wi-Fi off, while the Nook supposedly offers 11 hours. However, manufacturer battery life claims mean little. I encourage readers to look at reviews of both devices for real-world numbers.


Neither product offers a camera or GPS.

Ultimately, the winner in the hardware arena is obviously the Nook. Though it is $50 more, the massive increase in memory and storage capacity more than compensates for the difference.

Design Desires

kindle fire review

Though it’s a new product, the Nook Tablet has old bones. It uses the same chassis as the Nook Color, which has been around for some time.


I’ve handled the Nook Color before. While it’s not a bad product by any means, I felt the design matched the price point. The masses of dull silver are not attractive, and the little loop in the bottom left hand corner still strikes me as odd. B&N is offering the Tablet with aluminum trim, however, which will class it up a bit.

kindle fire review

Kindle’s Fire, on the other hand, is all new 7 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do with Your Kindle Fire Your Kindle Fire has some tricks up its sleeve you haven't discovered, yet. We'll reveal 7 that don't require you to root your device. Read More . And it looks all-new. Like the Nook Tablet, the design is more utilitarian than luxurious, but I think cladding the device in black does a better job of obscuring any material cheapness – from afar, at least.

There are other advantages, too. While the Fire and the Nook Color both have 7-inch displays with a resolution of 1024×600, the Fire is not as wide, not as tall, and just a bit thinner. On the other hand, the Nook Tablet is a tad lighter.


Personally, I think the Fire wins, but it’s close enough to be considered a toss-up.

Storefront Warfare

Comparisons here require some long-term speculation. The value of a tablet’s marketplace depends on the support for it, both by the original manufacturer and by developers. Just ask BlackBerry PlayBook users, who still lack an email app for their device, despite it being promised as “coming soon” when the device was launched.

On this front, Amazon has given us much more to go on. The company already provides a wider selection of services. It has a gigantic library of digital books, streaming video, cloud music and file storage, and its own Android app store. Many of the new services that Amazon has improved or debuted over the last year are applicable to this new tablet. On top of that, Amazon is offering a custom web browser that is promised to be smoother than anything seen before.

That’s not to say the Nook offers nothing. It will come with Netflix 9 Tips & Tricks To Get The Most Out Of Your Netflix Subscription Read More and Hulu Plus installed and has an app store of its own. What’s not clear is how many apps will be available on that store, and how strictly separated the device will be from the rest of the Android eco-system.


Given how much we already know about Amazon’s offerings, the Fire is the clear winner. If Barnes and Noble has any tricks up its sleeve, it had better announce them soon. Amazon already has a head start.

The Verdict

kindle fire

Now you know about both devices. But which should you buy?

That depends on how you plan to use your device. The Nook, with its larger storage capacity, seems to be a better choice for users who aren’t excited about cloud storage or streaming video. Barnes and Noble will be offering sales and service at its stores as well, an advantage Amazon can’t match.

If you’ve had your head in the clouds already, and like the view, the Fire is probably the better choice. It has a wider range of services available, a more mature app store, and an interesting custom browser. Sure, the storage is less – but that’s only an issue if you are going to fill up the Fire’s eight gigabytes. If you aren’t, the Nook’s only advantage is RAM, which may not be worth the additional $50.

If it were my money, I’d choose the Fire.  I think that the software and service advantages do outweigh the Nook’s hardware specs. I can see the Nook’s appeal, however. It may be the better choice for users who don’t care for cloud services and need the extra storage capacity.

Image Credit: LEDFrog

Related topics: Amazon Kindle, Amazon Kindle Fire, Buying Tips, eReader, Nook Tablet, User Review.

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  1. kindle downloads check out
    May 7, 2012 at 11:11 am

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  2. Dl Betty
    January 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Why not have other choices than just these 2 tablets? Ipad? Android?

  3. Nomad63
    December 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Let me rehash my question: If you personally have no intention of buying an ebook from neither Amazon, nor B&N, but use this thing (after rooting each device, provided this is possible without much fuss) as a cheap Android tablet, which one would you choose ? Or would you go with another provider's tablet or hackable ebook reader ? My main concern is the price/performance index. It needs to be as cheap as possible without losing computing power, due to lack of memory (not storage memory but internal, on which android runs) or lack of CPU power. I am not really concerned about outdoor viewing or all other extraneous specs as my intention of using this device as a companion to my TV remote or to my laptop. 

    In the past (read as last year around this time) I bought a Pandigital ebook reader and hacked it to full Android, but CPU is powerless and capacitive touchscreen is not responsive as its resistive (or vice-versa)  counterpart. So, it left a sour taste in my mouth and a hole in my pocket. This time around I want to research thoroughly. 

    • Max
      December 5, 2011 at 6:15 pm

      I know there r many sales and deals u could find so look there

    • M.S. Smith
      December 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm

      I'd still go with the Fire as it apparently is easier to root. I also believe it will be a long-term sales success, which means a large community looking for ways to mod it. Both the Nook Tablet and Fire have the same processor/gpu silicon inside, so there's no difference there.

      • Max
        December 8, 2011 at 8:01 am

        I have had the nook tablet and the fire( I did return the fire after about a week). I started out trying to hook both of them up to my wifi. The nook tablet was sooooo easy but for the fire I had to call amozon not much fun. My friend who also got a fire was so mad when hooking it up to the wifi she returned it. Once I finally got them both hooked up to my wifi I decided to invite my friends over. I didn't tell them what we were doing and I had them blindfolded and I put both the nook tablet and te kindle fire in their hand. Everyone liked the feel of the nook tablet more they said it felt sturdy in their hand. Next I rooted them I rooted the nook color in a hour but I couldn't figure out how to root the kindle. Hope that helped anyone

        • M.S. Smith
          December 9, 2011 at 10:26 am

          I'm not sure what to say about the WiFi issue. The Fire I reviewed has no problems in that area.

        • Max
          January 24, 2012 at 6:50 am

          Well when u own on its diffrent

  4. Menesespmn
    December 4, 2011 at 9:37 am

    i just need to know, what would be better to buy my wife ??
    she occasionaly likes to read but really enjoys the Internet and Facebook.
    She loves saving pics of her grambabies and does not want to carry a LapTop around every where.
    pls Help Me, KNDLE OR A NOOK ??

    Im going nutts xmas is almost here, pls reply asap

    • Maximum Ride
      December 8, 2011 at 7:52 am

      Well dose ur wife have friends with a nook or kindle? Go to them they will know what ur wife will like

    • M.S. Smith
      December 9, 2011 at 10:27 am

      I still think the Kindle Fire is better.

  5. momoftwoprinces
    December 3, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I'm still confused .... we need something with storage and that's good for gaming and web browsing but if I read one of the comments right, the nook tablet would not allow this because of b&n restrictions.  This is contradictory to what I have previously heard, but it seems I hear different info everywhere which makes it hard to research.  However, with the lack of memory on the kindle fire, I don't see how the games would be possible either.  Unfortunately, I can't afford to go the ipad route or any of the other more expensive tablets and will likely be purchasing one for my teens as well as myself ... this is very confusing ....

    • M.S. Smith
      December 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      From what I'm reading the B&N memory restriction is a surprise they kind of sprung on people.

      I reviewed the Fire for another site and I can confirm it's actually a very nice gaming tablet. The display is beautiful and Amazon's app store has a lot of good games on it.

    • Max
      December 8, 2011 at 8:05 am

      Well I do know this about the fire u have to pay a monthly fee. So getting this for your teens may not be reasonable. And after a lot of reasurch I found out that yes the tablet is 50$ more but u will have to pay around 80$ a year pre fire so in my opinion the nook tablet is better cuz all I have to pay is the 250 bucks flat out

      • M.S. Smith
        December 9, 2011 at 10:29 am

        You don't have to pay a monthly fee with the Fire. You can purchase the Amazon Prime membership that will give you access to a lot of content, particularly video content (plus, you get free 2-day shipping on all Amazon purchases or something like that...) But it's not required.

  6. Emma826
    December 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I'm so confused... I'm trying to decide between the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet... I've done lots of research and right when I think I'm about to make a decision, something I read changes my mind and makes me wonder which one is best... Here's my issue~
         I have a kindle right now. A normal, boring kindle. The first Kindle I had was great- loved it. Until the screen went wack, and I couldn't read anything. Then, Amazon gladly game me a new one, for free, no questions asked... which i loved. And now, I have this new kindle, and about two weeks after I got it, the same exact thing happened, and I know I'm not doing anything wrong, trust me, I retraced my steps, safe as can be. 
         So now I think maybe an upgrade will help. Such as the Kindle fire. But maybe it's just the brand so maybe the Nook? Should I try something new or stick to an upgrade?
         I love reading, which Is my main focus, but I also think the entertainment part of it is pretty cool, and all the features, which without a doubt I'll use.. Personally, I like now the Nook looks. I've heard the Kindle Fire has better apps and inside features such as Cloud.. But the design of the Nook is better, has more storage and more responsive than the Kindle... I'm just so dang confused. Help Please?! 

    • Kittiekatzinak
      December 2, 2011 at 12:37 am

      Well I know nooks are very sturdy and are better than the fire durability wise. But it depends on if u want to just read or if u want to be able to do things like listen to music surf the web ect. Ask urself thease qs do I have a laptop do I have a IPod or ifone and what Kan this device do that those can't hope I have helped u

    • Ella
      December 2, 2011 at 3:55 pm

      I know how disappointing it must be for ur kindle to freeze. I also know it u have the kindle keyboard u may want to upgrade( my friend has had one for two years and it still works but yet she rairly uses it) the nooks are in my mind pretty sturdy. U may want to do what I did go to a store that sells the kindle wifi or the nook simple touch and see which one you like the most. But if your thinking of the nook tablet/color or the kindle fire go see which one you like. For me it was a defanit nook tablet when I first held both of them because unlike the kindle fire which seemed so fragil the nook tablet felt sturdy in my hand it also seemed like the screen would be more protective. But look at the differences and pick the one u like the most if u need or have any more quistens let me know and let me know which one u get?????????????????

    • M.S. Smith
      December 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      Trying to predict reliability is foolhardy. Who knows which will be more reliable? Literally no one.

      So just buy what you think is best. I still lean towards the Kindle Fire. I think there's a lot more mileage to be had from Amazon's garden of content and apps. Plus the Fire's display is really really nice (outside of direct sunlight)

  7. maggiemypup
    November 30, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I want a tablet with games and entertainment, but  i like to read books. I am 13 years old, and price means nothing as it will be from "santa". Please help me decide which one i want!

    • Tina
      December 1, 2011 at 12:01 pm


      sounds like the article above didn't help you make a decision. Are you not interested in the Kindle or the Nook? Do you have other tablets on mind?

    • Kittiekatzinak
      December 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      Maggie I Am also 13 and I to am deciding on which ereader to buy. I have done countless hours of reasurch And I have finally made a dission. I have decided to get the nook tablet. I picked this over the fire for many reasons. First since I am a kid the nook tablet is proven to be more sturdy second it's a pretty cool desine third I have quite a few friends with nooks so I can lend and borrow books with them forth I was surprised to find out that I could take the nook tablet to school but I could not take the fire last is that I could walk in to any BandN store and the could help me with ANY problems I have I hope I have helped you

    • Kittiekatzinak
      December 4, 2011 at 10:33 am

      Hi maggie I would like to share something I found out for myself just reasntly. Did you know that you have to pay a monthy fee for the kindle fire but for the nook tablet there is only the 249 dollars for the tablet plus mabey a chip to expand memory

    • Coco
      December 9, 2011 at 6:35 pm

      My young brother has decided to get the kindle fire.  After much research games and entertainment seem to be the main focus, with a side of books... I suggest the Kindle Fire!

  8. Alecsey Boldeskul
    November 26, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Don't buy Nook Tablet if you are planning to get your content elsewhere other than B&N. 
    Nook Tablet has 16GB internal memory of which 3GB reserved for system and software. Of the remaining 13GB -- 12GB allocated to content purchased from B&H and only 1GB to user's content. 

    B&N tech rep told me that the only way to fix the problem is the use of microSD memory card, and that B&N does not plan any software updates to make more memory available to user content originated from the third parties.The big problem with memory card is this: Nook's shelves that are populated with books from the  memory card would go empty after device power off / power on and would have to be re-populated again! I love the tablet for it's speed and handling heavy pdf files but B&N imposing hardware restrictions??? Screw This!

    Otherwise Nook Tablet is an amazing device.

    • Kittiekatzinak
      December 2, 2011 at 1:02 am

      You can buy books at other places than bandn u can also lone them from the library

  9. Coco
    November 22, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I am sooo confused! which one should i buy if i want this for entertainment and not just solely books??? HELP!

    • Kittiekatzinak
      December 2, 2011 at 2:37 am

      Reasurch is all I kan say and personal prefrence now media wise I would pick the nook tablet because of the expandable memory but u chose what u want and can afford

  10. Robin Ashe
    November 18, 2011 at 4:35 am

    Gah, another showdown with no mention of the screen for outdoor viewing. Obviously B&N hasn't talked that point up enough (nor has Kobo for the Vox), but still, that's a huge factor, as tablets lend themselves to being taken outside and used on the go, while standing up (particularly in the 7" form factor). A screen that washes out in sunlight is practically as useless as one with a narrow viewing angle (or moreso if you like to keep what you're looking at private).

    • Kittiekatzinak
      December 2, 2011 at 2:39 am

      U may be superised that I u get an antiglair screen cover u can read fine in the sun and outdoors

  11. scooby
    November 17, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Shame that Amazon appear to have no intention at present to sell to us in the UK, just the (now) below par Kindle for nearly the same price (and even a UK charger is an extra!). I would probably have bought the Fire, but I rarely bother with companies that treat the UK and Europe in cavalier fashion.

  12. Nomad63
    November 17, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I personally do NOT want an e-book reader. I want a reasonably priced tablet. I read about first rooting of the Kindle Fire on the one of the blogs and it is encouraging but what I want to know from people who had the first hand experience, is, how easy or hard to add/replace the 8GB storage on Kindle Fire ? Is it just a slot loading or will it require cracking into the device's otherwise sealed case, voiding warranties. Otherwise, 16 GB SD memory is (if you are throwing the existing 8 GB into trash) is $20, not the $50 price difference.

    The other thing is the lack of camera. Although my cell phone has a decent one and will be augmenting my tablet for 3G connectivity, It would still be nice to connect (even an external one) camera to these devices. Will this be possible ? Will they have a USB host mode or whatever the feature is called, allowing me to add USB peripherals to it.

    Last but not the least, I am a cheap guy when it comes to spending on gadgets, considering they will go out of fashion, two seconds after I purchase them and my heart is telling me to go with Kindle Fire. Does any one have a compelling reason, other than larger memory (see my plan above) to make Nook more attractive ?

    • M.S. Smith
      November 17, 2011 at 9:51 pm

      There is no SD card slot on the Kindle Fire. So you can't make that upgrade. I do not know if an external webcam would work, but I doubt it, if only because of a lack of software support. 

  13. Anonymous
    November 17, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I'd go with the Fire and I have one of the original Nook Color. I think it will be more useful to me. I have some qualms about storage, but if you look not only at the streaming capabilities, but the Fire as a glass you can fill and empty, it makes sense. We've virtualized or subscribed to so much of what used to be material content ... storage is now being included in that process.

  14. Geoff Taylor
    November 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I bought a Kindle Fire. Love it. Folks have already figured out how to root, or jailbreak, the Fire. I'm not really interested in that though.

  15. atexec
    November 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Interesting, but if i plan to jailbreak the devise the clear winner is Nook, right?  That would open it to the entire Android app market...

    • Matt.Smith
      November 17, 2011 at 9:47 pm

      If you want to Jailbreak the Nook is probably the winner, due to higher technical specs.