If you want to transition from an e-reader to a tablet, the new Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet and the Amazon Kindle Fire are two entry-level options worth considering. These hybrid devices are the most affordable models from their respective lineups. They also share many capabilities, but have differences in design, features and storage.
We’ve compared these gadgets side-by-side to help you make the right choice.
The tablets: At a glance
|Nook Tablet||Kindle Fire|
|Price||$49.99||Starts at $49.99|
|Display||7-inch IPS display with 1024-by-600 resolution||7-inch IPS display with 1024-by-600 resolution|
|Colors||Black||Black, blue, magenta, tangerine|
|Storage||8 GB (expandable by an additional 128GB with microSD card)||8 GB, 16GB (expandable up to 200GB with microSD card)|
|Camera||2-megapixel rear, VGA front||2-megapixel rear, VGA front|
|Battery life||Up to 7 hours||Up to 7 hours|
|Weight||8.8 ounces||11 ounces|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||7.4 inches x 4.2 inches x 0.39 inch||7.5 inches x 4.5 inches x 0.4 inch|
The tablets both have sleek designs, rounded edges and 7-inch IPS color touchscreen displays. Each has a 3.5mm headphone jack, plus micro USB and microSD card slots.
The compact Nook weighs 8.8 ounces and measures 7.4 inches high, 4.2 inches wide and 0.39 inch deep. The slightly bulkier Fire weighs 11 ounces and measures 7.5 inches high, 4.5 inches wide and 0.4 inch deep.
The Fire is available in four colors, while the Nook comes only in black.
The Nook and the Fire are closely matched when it comes to features. Both have built-in Wi-Fi and offer access to apps, email, web browsing and e-books. The tablets are also equipped with the same cameras — a 2-megapixel rear-facing camera and a VGA front-facing camera — and provide up to seven hours of battery life. And you can set up individual profiles and parental controls on either device.
But there are some distinctions. For instance, the Nook offers the following:
- Google Play Store: The Nook, which runs on the Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system, comes preloaded with the Google Play Store. You can download apps for music, movies, games and more.
- Barnes & Noble Readouts: This feature lets you read a daily curated selection of magazine articles, book excerpts and commentaries, plus download a free book in chapter-by-chapter installments.
- Free in-store support: Take your Nook into any Barnes & Noble store for free help setting it up, troubleshooting or using it.
- Free in-store book reading: Read Nook books free on the tablet at Barnes & Noble stores for up to one hour per day.
The Fire’s additional features include:
- Amazon Underground: All apps and games from Amazon’s designated app store are free to download.
- Alexa: The tablet boasts Amazon’s voice service, which you can use to control your music and smart home features, ask questions, place orders and more.
- On-device tech support: Unlike Barnes & Noble, which has stores in all 50 states, Amazon has only three physical retail locations in San Diego, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle. These locations don’t provide device troubleshooting, but you can connect to a customer service representative through the tablet if you need assistance.
- Amazon Prime content: The Fire runs on Amazon’s Fire OS 5 operating system, which is optimized for Amazon content. Users can directly access e-books, music and videos from the tablet’s home screen, allowing Prime members to easily take advantage of their free downloads and streaming services.
The Nook has 8GB of internal storage, but if you buy a separate microSD card, you can add up to an additional 128GB. The Fire is sold in 8GB and 16GB versions, and you can expand each by up to 200GB with an optional microSD card.
As a bonus, both devices offer free cloud storage for their respective Nook and Amazon content.
Price and availability
The Nook costs $49.99. The Fire’s cost depends on the storage and “special offers” you choose. Special offers are ads that appear on your tablet’s screen when it’s not in use. You can buy the 8GB Fire for $49.99 with special offers or $64.99 without, and the 16GB version for $69.99 with special offers or $84.99 without.
The Fire has been on the market for some time, but you’ll have to preorder the brand-new Nook through Barnes & Noble stores. It will be available online Dec. 9.
The two tablets are both reasonably priced and their resolutions, cameras and battery life are identical. Both are solid choices for casual users who don’t need the most advanced technology.
Because the Nook weighs less and is marginally smaller, it might be the better on-the-go option. And users will find a wider variety of Android Apps in its Google Play Store than they will in the Amazon Underground app.
The Kindle Fire — as an Amazon product — offers a voice assistant and more seamlessly integrated Prime benefits, and although its Underground app store selection is limited, it’s entirely free. The Fire also has more storage options than the Nook, but you’ll have to pay more for a model with increased capacity. And if you prefer an ad-free experience, that’ll cost extra, too.
More from NerdWallet