Battle of the Tablets (Nexus 7, NOOK HD, Kindle Fire HD) – Part 1

Barnes & Noble NOOK HD+ Tablet
NOOK HD+ (9″)

As an app maker, I need to have a variety of hardware for testing. This is especially true of Android where each phone and tablet is a little different. That’s how I came to have a Google Nexus 7, an Amazon Kindle Fire HD, and a NOOK HD+. I mixed it up and got the 7″ Kindle Fire HD and the 9″ NOOK HD+ so it’s not 100% apples to apples – and no Apples. 🙂

The Contenders

  • Google Nexus 7 - 7″ 1280×800 HD display, $199 for a 16GB model.
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD – 7″ 1280×800 HD display, $199 for a 16GB ad-supported model ($15 more to remove lock screen ads) – no power supply included.
  • Barnes & Noble NOOK HD+ – 9″ 1920×1280 HD display, $269 for a 16GB model (the NOOK HD is a more comparable model at $199 for an 8GB model or with a higher density 1440 x 900 7″ display)
    NOTE: The NOOK HD and HD+ allow you to add up to 64GB via a microSD slot.

The comparison begins after the break.


Amazon Kindle Fire HD Tablet
Amazon Kindle Fire HD (7″)

The product design award goes to the NOOK HD+. It looks good, feels good in the hand, and has some nice styling touches. (I also look the oval-inspired design of the 7″ NOOK HD.)

The speakers award goes to the Kindle Fire HD. You can actually play music on it and hear it around the room! (But don’t crank it all the way or you’ll get distortion.)

The processor power and responsiveness award goes to the Nexus 7. My graphic-intensive apps got great frame rates on it. Some of this is dues to the quad-core Tegra 3 processor but I think Android 4.1 Jelly Bean’s “project butter” (get it? smooth as butter?) makes a big difference.


I found all three screens really good. We’re certainly in a new era. They all have high pixel density so the graphics are nice and smooth. Plenty of brightness too. You’ll enjoy reading, browsing, working or playing on any of these screens.


Google Nexus 7
Google Nexus 7 (7″)

The Nexus 7 has the numerical edge on apps with 700,000 apps in Google Play. It can also use the over 50,000 apps from the Amazon Appstore. You can read books from Google’s store, but you can also load the Kindle and NOOK apps and read those. You can get Google’s or Amazon’s music too. For books and music, it’s the best of all worlds. Video options include Netflix and Google’s movie store.

The Amazon Kindle Fire HD can only easily load apps from the Amazon Appstore, which might seem like a big drawback, but you’ll only see apps that have been tested by a human being. And you’ll only see apps that have been proven to work well on a tablet. It’s possible to “side load” other apps from third-party app stores if you like. You also get the advantage of Amazon Instant Video, which could be a big deal if you’re an Amazon Prime member (lots of free movies).

The NOOK HD has the smallest app store, but it only includes tablet-optimized apps, and B&N’s quality control standards are high. They’re just starting up a video service so hopefully there will be more videos to watch shortly (along with Netflix). Of course Barnes & Noble has a large collection of NOOK books. One of my favorite things about the NOOK is Free Book Friday. Every Friday, you can visit their “Unbound” blog (get it? unbound? eBooks… never mind) every Friday for a free eBook! They’re real books, not the usual 100 different slow cooker recipe book.

Google and Amazon both score points here. But next week, we’ll look at battery, connectivity, the user interface – each is different – and what might be best for you depending on how plan to use your device and who will be using it in your household.

Next Time

What would you like to know about these devices? If you have one of them, what do you like/dislike? Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page at

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