Barnes & Noble made the Nook Tablet official today. Just as the leaks suggested, the Nook Tablet will sell for $249. The Nook Tablet was being compared to the Kindle Fire as soon as the public became aware of its existence, and those comparisons continued during the event. The question is whether or not a customer should stick with the $199 Kindle Fire, or spend a little more and opt for the Nook Tablet. The answer to this question won’t be determined by specs alone like many other Android-based tablets out there. In order to figure out which tablet offers the best value, you have to look deeper.
The first thing most people will notice is the $50 price gap between the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire. At first glance, the Kindle Fire may appear to be more attractive to the wallet. Then again, you have to understand why B&N priced the Nook Tablet higher than the Kindle Fire. B&N CEO William Lynch said the company is “trying to lead, not follow.” At the same time, the Nook Tablet contains some features and services the Kindle Fire doesn’t have and vice versa. Let’s get into those now.
The Nook Tablet includes 16GB of storage and an expandable microSD slot that can support a 32GB card. The Kindle Fire has 8GB of storage (6GB is usable) and doesn’t support expandable memory. To make up for this, the Kindle Fire falls back on Amazon’s cloud service to access the media the tablet can’t store locally. The cloud provides more storage than most people can use, but its dependence on a Wi-Fi connection can be very limiting. Do not expect to import your entire music library to the Kindle Fire’s internal memory.
The Kindle Fire relies on the Amazon Appstore for its collection of apps. The Nook Tablet will support the Nook App Store. Neither tablet has access to the official Android Market. Amazon has openly expressed the Kindle Fire’s separation from Google’s services. B&N may support the official Android Market in the future, but it currently makes good money from its own app store that’s made up of apps that are optimized for the Nook Color and Nook Tablet.
Make no mistake, media consumption is the main feature of both products. The Kindle Fire has all the bases covered. Music, movies, apps and books can all be purchased from Amazon and used on the Kindle Fire. The Nook Tablet still primarily relies on books and magazines. B&N doesn’t offer video or music content, but it has teamed with the likes of Hulu, Netflix, Grooveshark, MOG and Pandora to make up for that. Amazon’s ecosystem is more controlled and tied to a single account, whereas B&N is pulling content in from all over with a dependence on multiple accounts.
This is something you can only experience for yourself. I recommend visiting a store and playing with the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire to see which tablet fits your personality. The user interfaces are different and the speed of the tablets may differ also. Don’t worry about specs too much. Real-world performance is the most important thing of all.