This Tuesday Amazon will release their latest 7 inch tablet, the Kindle Fire. Later on Friday, Barnes and Nobles will release their new 8 inch tablet, the Nook Tablet. Both companies are taking their new tablets to the market amid high expectations that smaller tablets will gain wider acceptance and compete better against the tablet makers such as Apple, Research and Motion, and Motorola that carry a larger 9-10 inch tablet.
The Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet could shake up the power dynamics in a tech industry that is beginning to see a transformative delivery of media and digital content with tablets.
Both new tablets with their smaller 7 inch size are viewed as e-readers supported by big recognizable retail companies that provide cloud networks, allowing their users to store and access content from the cloud.
Amazon and Barnes and Nobles are providing their customers with smaller, more portable tablets to access books, media, music, and information flowing from the internet.
Priced at $249 or $224 if signing up for a Barnes and Noble membership, the Nook Tablet is an appealing tablet for accessing Barnes and Noble’s 2.5 million book library and utilizing their new pre-loaded media apps such as Netflix, Pandora Radio, and Hulu Plus.
The Nook Tablet will be available at Barnes & Noble stores but it will also be available at major retailers, including Target, Staples, Wal-Mart and Office Max. The Nook Tablet uses a Wi-Fi connection instead of a satellite based 3G network which comes with a data plan through a wireless carrier. The Nook Tablet relies on the Nook Cloud for content storage.
The Nook’s LCD screen is bright and crisp, and captures video playback with vivid detail. It is capable of streaming HD video with 1024 x 600 and 169 PPI pixel density. The Nook screen is laminated with a non glare coating, and has the world’s most advanced Vivid View display from LG. It weighs under 1 pound at 14.1 ounces and offers 11.5 hours of battery reading from one charge.
One new feature that the Nook Tablet offers is a microphone recorder that allows a parent to record a story from a children’s book which can be automatically played back when a page is turned. This feature will work great for a parent who is constantly on the road traveling or very busy and yet still wants to help their child to read and understand children’s stories.
Barnes and Nobles is known to carry the deepest children’s book library for e-reading and they have a wide array of interactive children’s book. They also offer digital subscriptions to over 250 publications, including 100 leading magazines.
The Nook Tablet is also capable of dowloading library books from public libraries.
Running on Android 2.3 the Nook Tablet has 16.8 GB of expandable storage, 1 GB of Ram, and a micro SD slot for transferring images, photos, documents, etc. The Nook Tablet also comes with apps that reportedly number in the hundreds but Barnes and Noble is working to increase it to a thousand of apps in the future.
Priced at only $199.00 the Kindle Fire is clearly an affordable 7 inch tablet in the market. Similar to the Nook Tablet, the Fire runs on Android 2.3 and uses its own storefront to sell Amazon products such as Amazon Apps, MP3 music, Amazon Online Bookstore, and Amazon Prime for streaming movies or T.V. content. Last week, Amazon announced that they will now offer Netflix and Hulu Plus on the Kindle Fire.
Over past few years, Amazon has been building its media store to closely compete with Apple’s iTunes. They have literally millions of MP3 songs and albums to download in addition to their books and games in its own apps collection. Amazon Prime members who pay $79 a year to join Amazon Prime will receive instant streaming of movies and TV shows. New Kindle Fire users will receive a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime which also comes with discounted shiping rates and access to Amazon’s loaned e-books.
The Kindle Fire features the new Touchscreen technology and relies upon a combination of on-board storage and unlimited Cloud storage. The Kindle Fire uses Amazon’s proprietary Whispersync technology which keeps track of your bookmarks, notes, highlights, and last page read, and insures that they are synchronized across all of your devices. The Fire will open up PDF files through e-mail.
Battery life with the Kindle Fire is 8 hours for reading and 7.5 hours for video with the wireless connection turned off. The Kindle Fire operates on 8 GB of expandable storage and 512 MB of Ram. It weighs 14.6 ounces and is mirrored after Research and Motion’s Playbook design.
How do they compare?
The Kindle Fire has a more expansive collection of media content with their MP3 music library, in house streaming content with Amazon Prime, plus Netflix and Hulu Plus. The Nook Tablet has Netflix and Hulu Plus pre-loaded and only relies on Pandora Radio for music.
The Nook Tablet doesn’t have the deep music library of Amazon’s MP3 collection; however, their e-book library is larger with more titles and books to select from Barnes and Noble. Barnes and Noble reported that a number of audio services such as Mog and Spotify are on the way.
Concerning apps, the Kindle Fire has access to a larger supply of apps through Amazon compared to the Nook Tablet although popular apps like Angry Bird are available on both tablets.
The Nook Tablet is reportedly faster and has more storage than the Kindle Fire even though Amazon claims their silk web browser and Amazon cloud network provide an added boost for speed enhancement.
The Nook Tablet can integrate online e-books through public libraries while the Kindle Fire also shares that feature albeit in a different format.
Barnes & Noble calls its own Nook Tablet the “lightest, fastest tablet with HD entertainment.”
Tech magazine Wired recently wrote that the Nook Tablet is “a serious, high-performing device for kids too young to sport a smartphone or iPad, and who don’t plow through enough books to warrant a Nook Simple Touch or plain-vanilla Kindle, but who could benefit from an inexpensive, highly mobile device that can do a little bit of everything.”
The Kindle Fire is roughly $50.00 less expensive than the Nook Tablet and is being sold by Amazon at a loss of anywhere between $10- $25.00 per tablet. The company is expecting to make up the difference by having Kindle Fire users buy Amazon products such as MP3, e-books, Amazon Prime membership, and use Amazon for e-commerce.
During the presentation of the Nook Tablet last week in New York, Barnes and Noble’s CEO William Lynch spoke about Amazon’s push for selling their own services and said, “The Kindle Fire is a vending machine for Amazon services – they’ve said it themselves.”
Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble will be competing for supremacy in the e-book industry which is expected to grow in the years ahead. The competition is expected to be fierce.
CEO Lynch said that in 2010, $21 billion of the $22 billion trade book business represented paper books, with the remaining $1 billion in e-books. By 2015 he expects the numbers to be closer to $15 billion in paper books and $7 billion in e-books.
For consumers who are not interested in paying over $500.00 for an i-pad with their dual cameras, GPS, and content creation capabilities, the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire are good alternatives with impressive tablet features that will clearly find a place in the market.
Update: Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus was recently unveiled and it is also a 7 inch tablet. It was not featured in this article.