Barnes & Noble has joined the ranks of the new generation tablets, by introducing two brand new models in the market: the Nook HD and the Nook HD+. Now, that the party is gathered and most note-worthy companies have assembled, a match between the three most desired 7 inch slates was more than required. So today, we set ourselves to track down the answer of a really burning question: which one is better? The Nexus 7, the Nook HD or the latest Kindle Fire?
At the end of the page you will, hopefully, be able to make a choice, as soon as these three babies unleash. The starting price is no quarrel, with all three options being sold at $199, while the availability will differ from case to case. For instance, the Nook HD will be launched in late October, the Nexus 7 can already be purchased if you are in the right country and the Kindle Fire HD accepts pre-orders.
Nook HD vs. Nexus 7 vs. Kindle Fire HD
The context is simple. We have three tablets, two of them produced by the most content-hungry companies out there, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, while the other product is launched by Google itself in cooperation with Asus. All three sources have nicely-contoured marketing schemes and mostly bet on other profit factors, instead of the selling price alone. Let’s take a look at what each product has to offer:
The first in line is the Nexus 7, a 7-inch wide slate with a stylish candy-bar design that was designed to be used in portrait mode. The front of the device is devoid of any hardware buttons and the only element being present on this side is the front-facing camera, which is covered entirely by a glass panel. To maneuver through the menu the user will encounter three hardware buttons and on the right side of the slate, a power/sleep button, alongside the volume keys, can be found.
Although the Nexus 7 is primarily made out of plastic, a pleasant feeling is bestowed upon the user at touch. Asus made use of stylish corner cuts and a slim bezel around the screen itself, which measures around 2cm on top and 1,4cm on sides, making the tablet pretty pleasant to hold. The back plate of the tablet is marked by the Nexus logo and covered in tiny holes within the plastic material, which offer an overall premium look and feel of the small gadget (198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm in size).
The Kindle Fire HD is the 7-inch answer from Amazon, which measures 193 mm x 137 mm x 10.3 mm in size. A bit larger than the Nexus 7, Amazon’s latest creation bypasses classical rules and introduces a design which will stand-out in the crowd. The front of the tablet is mostly occupied by the large screen, with the front-facing camera serving as the only white cloud in a blue sky.
The sides of the device are curved towards the back and the continuous line is only broken by the side power and volume buttons, as well as the headphone jack and the various ports found. At the first touch, the back-plate is very soft and a small band that houses the speakers and Kindle’s logo, stretching across the equipment offers a professional look.
Slightly thinner than the Nexus 7 (.01 inches), the Kindle Fire HD weights 395 grams and arranges itself comfortably in hands. The slate feels good in hands, and it’s particularly well-suited for the portrait mode.
When taking a look at the newest member of the family, the Nook HD measures 127mm across, meaning 7mm wider than the Nexus 7 and 10mm thinner than the Fire HD. While most tablets go with the classic candy-bar look, Barnes & Noble has opted for an extra comfy support which is placed around the edges, offering a rest-place for thumbs without leaving marks on the actual display. Although the principle in theory is good, the extra space could have been saved to reduce the overall size.
Verdict: In matter of pure looks, the Nexus 7 is the classiest of the three. With its simple yet stylish design, the tablet won’t be mistaken for a Galaxy Tab and will fit comfortably in hands.
The Nexus 7 comes with a 7-inch 1200 x 800 HD backlit IPS display which packs a respectable 216 pixels per inch density. Although bright and rich in color, the overall contrast is somewhat disappointing and seems almost muted, noticeable while viewing the home screen. Leaving this small matter aside, viewing content in any other form has proved to be great, but it still is a long shot compared to the iPad or its Asus sibling, the Transformer.
While the IPS LCD display on the Kindle Fire HD supplies almost the same pixel density, Amazon’s creation blows away the Nexus in terms of color richness, general brightness and the number of black levels. Although covered in an anti-glare coating, the screen proves to be pretty shiny in most rooms.
Surprisingly, the Nook HD lives up to its name by offering a higher 1440×900 resolution and a pixel density of 243, approaching the numbers of the latest iPad. While watching the same video on these three tablets, I can safely say that it has the most colorful pictures without reaching over-saturation.
Verdict: Nook HD.
Battery and Connectivity
According to manufacturers, the Kindle Fire HD can last approximately 11 hours on an average use. If you tune the Wi-Fi or download content from the web, that amount will drastically become shorter. The performance is comparable to the one of the Nook HD, which offers around 10.5 hours of reading and 9 hours of video playback, much like the Nexus 7 with a 4325 mAh battery.
In terms of connectivity, all devices stand pretty much equal, having microUSB ports, microHDMI connectors (except for the Nexus 7) and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Verdict: It’s a tie!
Processor and Memory
When looking at the raw processing power, the Nexus 7 is the clear winner. With its powerful quad core CPU, clocked at 1.2 GHz, it puts to shame the other two tablets packed with only dual-core components (and on a similar frequency). As for the memory, the Nook HD fells short with 512MB of RAM for the standard version, while the Fire HD and the Nexus 7 both have 1GB built-in.
In the storage room Amazon’s device is once more the most prominent with 16GB by default, while the other two have only 8GB. Reports have said that the Nexus 7 has severe issues with the memory because of its Android settlement, and owners can only make use of around 5GB of the whole. Moreover, the Nook HD has the advance of coming with an extra storage slot which can take it to a staggering 64GB, so memory consumers will find comfort in B&N’s safe haven.
All three tablets are based on Android. The Nexus 7 has the exclusive advantage of arriving with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on board, while the other two competitors rely on 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with a modified skin on top. Sadly, these modifications were made badly.
Amazon has whipped most Android traces clear off, by putting a jerky barrier between the classic Android and what Amazon had in mind. In a few words, the user must perform plenty of tapping to get around through the menu, the home button has moved to the far left and the center of the menu is now replaced by a back button; confusing, indeed. There is no multitasking per-say, the favorite app menu is hard to reach and in general, there’s a pretty unintuitive method of moving from place to place.
Another impediment of the Kindle Fire is the response time, the OS having big lag issues from time to time. Most of the time, the keyboard feels delayed, certain buttons stall for moments and warping through applications can cause the device to freeze. Something that is no case at all, for the Nexus 7.
The Nook HD interface is also slow, besides looking cartoony and laggy within most animations. In terms of speed, it can be compared with the original Kindle Fire, which failed to make a stand.
Winner: Obviously, the Nexus 7.
Bypassing the era of specs and other technical complications, each tablet has its own tricks up the sleeve. For example, the Nook HD can be accounted as the first Android tablet that comes with multiple users support, making it a wonderful device which can be shared between members of the family. Moreover, the high-priority accounts can even restrict certain books or features to other accounts, similar to a parenting pass-requiring feature. Speaking of parenting, Amazon has a service of this matter embedded, but it only affects the whole device and owners have to pay for it.
Also on the Amazon camp, the vendor is high above the others when it comes to pure content. Holding thousands of books, movies, music and even a nice collection of apps, Amazon clearly shows an advantage in this category. Pairing this with the Prime service, which lets users enjoy unlimited streaming and promotional prices for a fixed annual rate, purchasers can consider themselves lucky.
Moreover, the Whispersync technology allows owners to continue borrowed books, movies and other content right from the point where they took off. Also, an advanced searching tool by the name of X-Ray was embedded, allowing users to query certain characters which can be tracked across movies and such.
When it comes to sheer applications, Nexus 7 is the king of the hill. Although it lacks any tablet-specific feature, it surpasses all competitors but does not enjoy any exclusive. Everything found on a regular Android phone will be located here as well. The thing is that Amazon, and B&N alike, lack most note-worthy applications from their store.
Winner: Kindle Fire.
Sheer specification comparison
Putting all the elements head to head, it is always left to the user choice. If you want a fast tablet, which can handle games on the go and enjoys the powers great apps, as well as the advantage of being a member of the Nexus family (instant OS updates), Nexus 7 is the choice. Those wishing for something more poetic, to be used mostly for videos, books and other media content, Kindle Fire HD is the answer. Sorry Nook, maybe next time.