Amazon Kindle Fire HD vs Barnes & Noble Nook HD

Vs Paul Briden 12:25, 14 Dec 2012

Barnes & Noble has followed Amazon's lead in introducing a device that's more than just an eReader with the Nook HD, but how does it compare to the Kindle Fire HD?

We take a look at two custom-made content reader tablets with Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD taking on a new challenger, the Barnes & Noble Nook HD.

Form

Barnes & Noble Nook HD - 194.4x127.1x11 mm, 315g

Amazon Kindle Fire HD - 193x137x10.3mm, 395g

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD is a small, lightweight and highly portable slate which has clearly been designed with function and form in mind more than aesthetics.

Amazon has obviously chosen to play it safe when it comes to the visual design, which is quite typical of other 7-inch tablets.

The bezel around the display is quite large, giving a bulky appearance, but the counter to this is it’s quite easy to grip.

Likewise the black plastic matte finish unibody might not exactly be glamorous – the only nod to some kind of visual flair is a glossy black bar with ‘Kindle’ embedded into it and some vents at the sides (for the speakers) – but, we can’t argue with the fact that it makes it quite ergonomic.

Lastly, the build quality is pretty good all round – you won’t find any creaking or flex to the bodywork.

The Nook HD looks quite alien by comparison, it appears to have been designed with portrait orientation in mind (for reading eBooks, of course), so the bezel is thinner along the two shorter edges and thicker where you’d spend most of the time holding it along the longer edges.

The thicker edges are still reasonably svelte, however, and certainly add to the feeling that the Kindle Fire HD is a bit on the pudgy side.

The corners have a much more pronounced curvature than the Kindle Fire HD and the display is slightly recessed into the bezel surround – a similarly sized depression is found on the rear of the device too. Notably, the Nook HD is almost 100g lighter than its Amazon rival.

The bodywork effectively wraps around the display and includes the bezel, it’s made from a soft-touch plastic and the whole build is reasonably solid, though reports indicate a small amount of flex in the back panel.

With these two devices we’re not particularly enamoured with either of them aesthetically and they appear to be on an equal footing in terms of practical design as well as fit and finish.

As a result we’re calling it a draw.

Winner – Draw

Display

The Kindle Fire HD sports a 7-inch IPS LCD capacitive multitouch display with a 1280x800pixel resolution at 216 pixels-per-inch. It should deliver reasonably good picture quality as that pixel density is not far off the Retina-equipped iPad’s larger screen in terms of sharpness.

Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD also has a 7-inch IPS display but at a higher resolution of 1440x900 pixels giving a pixel density of 243 pixels-per-inch. By tablet standards this is very good indeed and should ensure excellent picture quality.

Winner – Barnes & Noble Nook HD

Storage

In the case of each device there’s something of an emphasis on using cloud-based or streaming services for content accessed through either an Amazon or Barnes & Noble account, however, both do come with some built-in storage capability, but each has quite a different approach.

The Nook HD gives you 8GB or 16GB of internal storage but also provides a microSD slot, allowing you to expand your space via cards by up to 32GB.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD is more generous with the onboard capacity, with options for either 16GB or 32GB built-in, but there’s no microSD slot so you’re not going to be able to boost this.

As usual with this scenario, there must be a heavy dollop of user preference involved. We’d always rather have both plenty of onboard storage and the flexibility of microSD.

Neither tablet provides the luxury of this magic combo (although the 16GB Nook probably comes closest), so you’re going to have to decide whether it’s more important to have oodles of space inside or the capability to expand by card when necessary.

Winner – Draw

Disqus - noscript

The main reason in purchasing either a Kindle Fire or Nook HD is for the text-to-speech feature. The iPad, Google Nexus nor any other tablet has that functionality. Being able to read a book out loud while I am working, doing dishes or even driving makes purchase an actual Kindle or Nook worth it! Not to mention the lending library and ability to lend or borrow books from friends. No app allows you the capability to do that.

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