Amazon managed to get its name at the top of today’s shopping headlines by offering an impressive discount on the second-sort-of-first generation Kindle Fire. Their Cyber Monday “FIREDEAL” offers the slightly upgraded original Kindle Fire for just $129.00 USD. This is definitely a good deal on a solid tablet, but is it the right one for you?
First off, please note that this sale is not for the new Kindle Fire HD (currently $199 with special offers on Amazon.com). The ‘second gen’ Kindle Fire is basically the same as the first but with a couple of hardware upgrades: the battery life has been extended to 9 hours, and it boasts a new 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, making the Kindle Fire “40% faster and more fluid than before.” You still get the same 1024 x 600 screen resolution (162 ppi), 8GB of storage (only 5.5GB available for user content), and standard, not Dolby, speakers. These specs are by no means shabby, and for $129 you will be getting a much better device than you would if you spent that amount on a cheap Chinese tablet. But with the Kindle Fire HD line now on the market, it would be hard for me to endorse the Kindle Fire. This would be a great starter tablet for newbs and kids, but if you are looking to do some serious eReading on a device, go for the newer HD model. It has the new immersive reading feature with Audible audiobooks, and incredible text-to-speech. The screen and Dolby speakers will be much superior on the newer generation.
Barnes & Noble is also putting focus on their older tablets by offering a $20 gift card with the purchase of the already discounted Nook Tablet and Nook Color (if you pay with a MasterCard). $20 off the 8GB Nook Tablet will take it down to $139.00 USD. This might be $10 more than the Amazon deal, but, in my opinion, you will get a much better tablet. The display has 169 ppi, battery life can go up to 12 hours, and it packs a 1GHz TI OMAP4 dual-core processor with 512MB RAM.
The screen on the Nook Tablet offers basically the same resolution as the Kindle Fire, but according to many reviewers, it looks a lot better in comparison due to the Nook’s laminated display. I have noticed that glare is almost non-existent in regular room lighting on the Nook Tablet, but I can’t say the same for the Kindle Fire. More importantly, the Nook Tablet also features a microSD slot, enabling you to expand storage up to 32GB with a SanDisk MicroSDHC memory card (they are on sale at Amazon for $17.99). Remember, you can also purchase a N2A card and turn your Nook into a stock Android Jelly Bean tablet. It is just as easy as sticking in an N2A card and powering on the device. No rooting complexities or warranty voiding.
If given a choice between the two, I would definitely select the Nook Tablet. It looks better, it feels better in the hand, and it has a nicer build quality overall. The microSD slot and vanilla Android potential make it a much more versatile device. If you don’t intend to get a N2A card, or if you are already invested in Amazon’s ecosystem, then I would stick with the Kindle Fire. The app selection is much, much better than the standard Nook’s, and you can’t beat all of the free movies and other cheap content available on the Fire with a Prime Membership. Some reports indicate that Amazon will soon be offering a monthly subscription plan for Amazon Prime, and this will be very appealing to movie lovers who don’t like the automatic $79 annual Prime commitment.
What do you think?
Happy Cyber Monday shopping.