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Sep 19

Kindle Fire HD vs iPad 3, Nexus 7, Nook Tablet, Xoom, Playbook

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Kindle Fire HD vs iPad 3, Nexus 7, Nook Tablet, Xoom, Playbook

Continuing from yesterdays “First Impressions”, this article includes some comparisons of the Kindle Fire HD vs similar devices such as the original Kindle Fire, the Nexus 7 and the iPad3.

Due to my work with Pavtube DVD Ripper, I get a lot of questions regarding video playback on different devices. While it is impossible for me to own everything that is out there, I find that if I actually own a device that is quite popular or considerably different from its counterparts that it makes my work a lot easier to actually own a device, rather than just looking at factory-provided specifications.

With so many different tablets out there that basically offer the same functionality, it is nearly impossible to choose what works best for you. I don’t consider myself an expert on all these different devices, mainly because my own use on each of them is limited to basic email and web browsing, but of course when it comes to video, I do what I can to make the best use of its capabilities.

The Kindle Fire HD has only been available for 2 days, so a detailed comparison between these different devices is early, however, a few observations, along with comparison pictures should be of some assistance in case you are interested in a new tablet.

Let me start with a basic comparison of the Kindle Fire HD with its older brother, the original Kindle Fire from last year:

Kindle Fire HD vs Kindle Fire:

The first noticeable difference is of course the lock-screen ads of the Kindle Fire HD.

Many people find it annoying, but I’m not too bothered by it. It wasn’t nice of Amazon to do this, considering it wasn’t mentioned in the actual announcement (or I missed it), but they are there, and that is it.

It is possible to remove them if you are willing to pay the $15 for it, but actually it doesn’t look too bad, and with one of the ads offering $5 of free music, you might end up with a good deal.

One thing I am not to excited about with the Kindle Fire HD is the home-screen. If you browse through your content in portrait mode, the Fire HD (right) shows a “customers also bought” menu. On the original Kindle Fire (left), it shows your favorites (on the Fire HD, it brings up the favorites if you tap on the star icon on the bottom right)

Using default settings, web-browsing on the Fire HD (top) is a bit faster than the original, and due to the slightly larger screen area, provides a better layout and looks nicer. Also having the menu-bar on the right instead of the bottom is a welcome feature.

Opening books seems a bit faster on the original Kindle Fire, but flipping through pages works just as fast.

Other observations:

* The border around the Fire HD’s screen area is about 2x as thick as that of the original Kindle Fire.

* Despite the thinner look, the difference in thickness is not much, maybe 2mm or so. The beveled border on the bottom does make it feel slimmer.

* The screen on the Fire HD is quite readable in a direct-light scenario (next to a window on a sunny day), the original one, not so much.

* Flipping through menu’s seems faster on the original Kindle Fire. It instantly reacts, but then it starts loading. With the Kindle Fire HD, it seems to pause for a second, but then it catches up quickly.

Kindle Fire HD vs Google Nexus 7:

The Nexus 7 is one of the best Android tablets on the market today. It delivers the best performance in it’s price-range, however, there are some things that the Kindle Fire HD has some advantages. Of course when it comes to games and apps, the Nexus 7 offers a bit more. The Kindle Fire HD lets you get content from Amazon’s Apps, but the Nexus 7, can use that, and its own Google Play. Thanks to the Tegra3, the Nexus 7 is also quite the performer when it comes to visually stunning games, many of which don’t run on the Kindle Fire HD at all.

However, Amazon does have a headstart when it comes to content. Of course you can install the Kindle app on the Nexus 7, but Amazon offers much more. With its prime-service, you get free access to a large collection of movies and TV shows, many of which are almost full-retail pricing on the Nexus 7.

Web-wise, its a bit of a toss-up between the 2. On some pages the Nexus 7 is faster, on others the Kindle Fire HD. The Kindle Fire HD does take a little to update the screen if you scroll down a page.

Other observations:

* Both are about the same thickness and the same length in landscape mode. The Kindle Fire HD is a bit wider because of the thicker borders around the screen.

* The Kindle Fire HD has HDMI, so you can actually hook it up to a TV.

* Both devices lack any form of memory expansion, unless you use something like a GoFlex WiFi or a WiDrive.

Click here, you can play DVD movies on Nexus 7.

Kindle Fire HD vs Nook Tablet:

Similarly priced, and of course a similar focus on eBook, the Kindle Fire HD is a direct competitor for Barnes and Noble’s NOOK tablet.

Unfortunately, aside from the ease of use of the NOOK tablet when it comes to reading, the Kindle Fire HD has the upper hand. The higher resolution of the Kindle Fire HD (1280×800) vs the NOOK tablet (1024×600) makes reading more comfortable. Characters look a bit sharper, images more vivid.

Web browsing is also somewhat of a toss-up. Some sites are faster on the NOOK tablet, others faster on the Kindle Fire HD.

Size-wise the NOOK tablet is slightly longer, but the Kindle Fire HD, again due to the wider borders, is a bit wider.

Other observations:

* Device-wise, the differences are not that great, however, the one thing that B&N lacks is content other than reading. It offers a large selection of eBooks and magazines, but that is basically where it ends. With Amazon offering music, apps, movies, tv shows as well as eBooks and magazines, the Kindle Fire HD offers more functionality.

* One big advantage the NOOK tablet does have over the Kindle Fire HD, as well as over the Nexus 7, is the inclusion of a memorycard slot. The Kindle Fire HD stops at 32GB and the Nexus 7 stops at 16GB, which costs an additional $50 over the base models, and with the NOOK tablet, every additional $30 or so will get you another 32GB of extra storage.

Kindle Fire HD vs Blackberry Playbook:

This was more fitting for a compare between the original Kindle Fire, however, the Playbook is still one of my favorite tablets.

Size-wise, they are both about the same size, and, not counting the beveled edge of the Fire HD, it actually looks more like the Kindle Fire HD than it does with the original Kindle Fire.

When it comes to web and video, my personal preference still goes out towards the Playbook. however, its biggest drawback, and the Kindle Fire HD’s biggest advantage, is content.

Regardless of that, I still love the border-swipe controls (rather than screen-smudges) and of course its ability to keep your other apps running while you switch between them, rather than placing them in a paused mode.

Both devices have HDMI-out, so they can be used with a TV.

Kindle Fire HD vs Xoom:

Just to throw it out there for anyone interested in looking for something smaller than a 10″ tablet.

I do think that last-years Tegra2-based tablets such as the Xoom, Thrive, Transformer etc, still hold up really well.

Kindle Fire HD vs iPad 3:

After all these wide-screen devices, it looks weird to place the Kindle Fire HD in the same picture as an iPad 3.

Browsing speed is about the same between both. Reading is more comfortable on the iPad’s screen due to the higher resolution, but the size of the iPad makes it a bit less comfortable to hold, especially for reading sessions on your daily commute.

Content-wise, Amazon and Apple are quite similar. Both offer large amounts of eBooks, magazines, movies and TV shows, but Amazon goes a little further further thanks to its Amazon Prime subscription service. eBook borrowing, and of course its free movie and TV show catalog, not unlike Netflix. But, on top of that, with its physical goods, with many DVDs and Blurays you purchase through Amazon, you gain instant access to the purchased movie for streaming.

Closing thoughts:

Aside from the form-factor (physical size), differences in the operating system (stock Android, custom Android, iOS, PlayBook OS) and differences in available content, all these devices perform quite similar. There are of course differences in speed for web browsing, starting up, loading/using applications etc, but for the basic functionality (at least what I use them for), the differences are minimal.

Last night, I read a chapter of the second book of the Hunger Games on the Kindle Fire HD, and it worked surprisingly well. My eyes are a bit sensitive to screen-flicker, so I don’t do much reading on my tablets (less noticeable with videos), but it worked quite well. Still, my favorite device for reading is my iPod Touch 4. It is a little small, but the retina display, and its weight work best for me. An iPad Mini, if Apple decides to release it with Retina, and not wait for the iPad Mini2 to implement it, would be perfect for that reason alone.

Compared to its direct competitors, the NOOK tablet and the Nexus 7, the Kindle Fire HD is more a media-consumption device than anything else.

The Nook Tablet is more focused on reading alone, and while capable of a lot more than that, B&N doesn’t seem to have interest to actually move in other directions with it; a missed opportunity for them.

The Nexus 7 is more focused on performance and gaming. Google tries to move it towards a media consumption device, however, unless Google implements some form of subscription service for videos like Amazon, rather than just following suit with Apple and the likes, it would continue to remain more of a gaming tablet.

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