Just in time to take advantage of the Kindle Fire let down, Barnes and Noble's similar idea, the Nook Tablet, has hit reviewer's hands. And so far, it's been a pleasant surprise. When B&N first revealed the Tablet, it didn't look like it would outshine the cheaper device. Yet, when people actually used the Kindle Fire, it didn't impress: The cheap pricetag translated to the device. And about a week later it's having some app problems. Just in time to woo these let-down would-be Kindle Fire-philes, the Nook Tablet has hit the market. And overall, that tablet functions better than its rival. Unfortunately, that might not matter much. Because the few ways the Kindle Fire is better matter more.
The Nook Tablet is better than the Kindle Fire in the following ways.
Neither the Nook Tablet nor the Kindle Fire are particularly snazzy devices. The Kindle Fire (on the left) looks like a BlackBerry Playbook. At least the Nook has some design character, explains Endgadget's Brian Heater. "The most distinctive feature, hands-down is the little carabiner loop that juts out from the bottom left corner of the reader, a design decision largely to set the device apart from other tablets according to B&N -- and to offer some protection for the slot that lies on the other side," he writes. It's not much, but Business Insider's Steve Kovach prefers it to the Kindle Fire's copy-cat design as does The Verge's Joanna Stern. "Yes, that means I much prefer the Tablet’s bolder style and the unique design quirk — the hook on the left corner — to that of the rather bland, unassuming Kindle Fire," she adds. We guess it's the very small things that count?
Beyond the little hook Barnes and Noble made some other design choices that improve user experience, like more physical buttons, which as Heater points out, makes the tablet usable when the touchscreen stops working. And the actual shape of the Tablet, with a curved, instead of flat back, make it better to hold, he adds.
The Kindle Fire weighs 14.6 ounces; the Nook Tablet weights 14.1 ounces.
Longer Battery Life
The two have the exact same battery, but somehow the Nook Tablet is more efficient, notes Gizmodo's Jamie Condliffe. "Interestingly, it turns out that the Tablet uses the exact same 3.7 V, 4000 mAh battery as the Nook Color," she writes. "But somehow manages to squeeze an extra 3.5 hours of use out of it."
A big issue for the Kindle Fire, which runs on its custom Silk browser, the Nook's browser works a lot better than Amazon's. It "runs smoother" with "No jitters or zooming problems" and "doesn't choke," -- Silk does all of that, explains Kovach.
More Memory, Just as Fast
The Nook Tablet offers 1GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, double that of the Fire, yet it runs at the same speeds.
Given all of these winning traits, one would think the Nook would win this Tablet-off. Yet, there are two very important ways the Nook is worse than the Kindle Fire.
Both of these tablets were designed with content consumption in mind, as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has made clear. The Kindle Fire has a lot more to offer. "Without its own multimedia services like Amazon has with its Music or Instant Video, the only way to get multimedia on the device is to sideload content," laments Stern. "Not only is it inconvenient to go through that process, but B&N has only allocated 1GB of internal space for sideloaded files," she adds. And, while the Kindle Fire has less storage, Barnes and Noble only leaves one GB for non B&N content, which without too many offerings, will be a lot. A functional device without fun stuff on it is basically useless.
The Kindle Fire acts cheaper because it costs less than the Nook, at $199 to the Nook's $250 price tag. The less than $200 price point has psychological powers, explains Heater. "The words "under $200" mean a lot to shoppers," he writes. For $50 more one gets a better device, but again, the content options aren't there.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.