Amazon’s Fire tablets have really caught on since its inception. Amid its cheap price, suitable performance, and deep integration with Amazon’s products and services, the Kindle Fire has become the unrivaled sweetheart of low-end affordable tablets. However, the "unrivaled" aspect of the brand may soon be omitted as an old rival has surprisingly resurfaced to challenge the popular budget-friendly tablet: the Barnes & Noble Nook.
Amazon and Barnes & Noble were once stiff competitors. Around the same time that the Amazon Kindle eReader was gaining serious traction, Barnes & Noble was also getting involved in eReaders with its own product, the Nook. The brand was a popular option for eReaders, but really took off when Barnes & Noble unveiled the Nook Color tablet at the tail end of 2010, the same year the Apple iPad was released. The Nook Color was one of the first “budget” tablets to arrive on the market and was wildly popular, selling millions of units. The Kindle Fire wouldn't appear on the market until a year later.
Unfortunately, a string of questionable decisions led to the demise of the Nook, including the release of too many Nook variants in a short amount of time, disabling a popular ability to sideload Android apps, limiting memory partitions so that users only had access to a fraction of the advertised price to load e-books and losing the ability to download and backup e-book purchases. Amazon, on the other hand, continued to thrive after its release.
Despite its shortcomings, the Nook line never did completely die out. Barnes & Noble teamed up with Samsung to create two Galaxy Tab 4 Nook models in 2014, and released one eReader in 2015. Barnes & Noble also released a Samsung Galaxy Tab A variant earlier this year. These releases came and went quietly without much coverage, but Barnes & Noble appear to be edging its way back in the budget tablet market with the introduction of the new competitively priced $49.99 Nook tablet.
The new Nook offers specs that relate closely to the $49.99 Amazon Fire 7, such as a 7-inch 1024 x 600 resolution display, 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 8GB of storage (expandable by microSD up to 128GB; Amazon’s allows for up to 200GB), VGA front-facing camera and 2MP rear-facing, and runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow (Fire 7 runs on Fire OS, a forked version of Android).
Despite their similarities, the two devices also have their differences. The Fire 7 has a much wider array of accessory options when compared to the new Nook tablet. The Fire is also offered in more colors, whereas the Nook is only offered in black. The Fire 7 also offers double storage for $20 more; the Nook is stuck at 8GB of internal storage. However, both tablets support SD storage for apps. Kindle FreeTime, a relatively hassle-free option for kids for a monthly fee, is a nice plus for the Fire 7, but the Nook also has parental controls and profiles.
On the other hand, the Nook has advantages as well. For starters, the Nook is ad-free at $49.99. It costs $14.99 extra to remove ads on the Kindle Fire. The Nook also appears to have unbridled access to the Google Play Store, whereas the Kindle Fire only has access to Amazon’s Appstore (which features many of the same apps in the Play Store, but not all). There are workarounds to get the Play Store on the Kindle Fire, but it does not come with it right out of the box.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The Kindle Fire is better for more storage/wider variety of accessories and Amazon connectivity, while the Nook is better for ad-less hassle and a wider selection of apps from the Google Play store. Ultimately, they are both excellent deals for the price.
Readers, what are your thoughts about the new Nook with competitive pricing? Would you rather have the Nook with the Google Play Store out of the box, or the Kindle Fire with more accessories and storage space? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!