Nerdist was started by Chris Hardwick and has grown to be a many headed beast.

Kindles vs. Nooks

by on November 18, 2011

Emails wondering about Amazon’s Kindle(s) or Barnes & Noble’s Nook(s) have been rolling in lately, so I’ll try to save you from the inevitable “BUT JESSICA, WHICH ONE DO I WANT?!” meltdown with a very basic run through of your options here.
The question that ultimately comes up after accepting that these are all e-readers that won’t perform or look exactly like an iPad (or miscellaneous tablet of your choosing) is: So… which one is better? I’m going to save you time, right now! There is no clear winner. Each can be useful to a person — it depends on whether you’re looking to save money or have a clean and easy book reading experience or want to read your books and play games/videos/browse the internet too.


First, let’s go with the much anticipated tablet readers.

The Kindle Fire ($199) vs. B&N’s Nook Tablet ($249)

First, there’s price. It’s only a $50 difference! So what do you get for $50 with the Nook? Almost double the storage space of the Fire. The Nook boasts 16GB storage AND a MicroSD slot for expansion up to (I believe) 32GB. The Kindle Fire offers 8GB and two of those are eaten up by the OS immediately. If you want to store photos, music, videos — basically anything other than a book — on your e-reading tablet, you’ll want the Nook. If you intend to simply stream video, read books (the Cloud service is just fantastic on the Fire), play games and browse the internet, the Kindle Fire will be more than perfect.

Both have access to the Android app market, but not full access. In this case, the Fire is the clear cut winner. Amazon has many, many more apps available in their marketplace and while I’m sure the Nook will catch up eventually, it’s nowhere near it right now.

They both have 7-inch screens with almost identical display resolutions. (I think the Fire is 1ppi less than the Nook which almost isn’t worth mentioning, except I just did…) The Fire is a bit lighter and slimmer than the Nook overall and, personally, I like its fancy black casing better. Purely a matter of opinion there.

Basically, I call this a toss up. While I own a Kindle Fire, I can see the merits of the Nook. But because I have other options for storing things like music, pictures, etc., I don’t need the extra space. I realize I’m not using this toy for anything other than a fancy book reader and Fruit Ninja slicer, so saving $50 is saving $50. For me.

Did that help? Hope so.

Now, onto the others! Amazon has the $79 Kindle, a small and bare bones reader than they claim fits in your pocket, but I think it depends on the size of your pocket. You’re getting what you pay for here. It’s not frilly or fancy; it’s an utilitarian book reader and it’s absolutely PERFECT for that price. Next, the $99 Kindle Touch, which is a bit more advanced than the Kindle with it’s fancy touch display and text-to-speech features, but both are WiFi only connections.If you’re looking for 3G connection to get books anytime you want, basically wherever you want, you’ll want to pay attention to the $149 Kindle Touch 3G. It has all of the features of the regular Kindle Touch, but with the capability to get you a book without any contracts or fees anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. I love the 3G thing, and wish the Kindle Fire had that capability as well. You’ll appreciate being able to download a book whenever you want. Trust me. You also have the option to get the $139 Kindle Keyboard 3G, which is essentially the same thing as the Touch, just a little bigger and uh, you don’t have to touch anything. (There’s also a WiFi only Kindle Keyboard for $139, but I don’t understand why you’d opt for the one that won’t get you books all the time) I have one of the first incarnations of the Kindle, and this is what it most resembles now, minus the “Whispernet” connection. Remember: all of these are very utilitarian options, no color displays or anything fancy, just books on the go, and they’re perfect for that!

Onto the Nooks!

This part will be a lot easier. There’s only three! First, there’s the $99 Nook Simple Touch, a black and white bare bones sort of reader, which is extremely similiar to the Kindle Touch and just as easy to use. For me, it’s a toss-up. If you have the luxury of going to try them both out at a store — do it! Maybe one feels better in your hand than the other. Both boast the “best” E Ink technology and both have 6” displays. The Nook is a little fatter. That’s about it.

Then we have the $199 Nook Color. It has an 8GB internal memory and capability for expansion, has limited access to the app store, and, according to the website, will have Netflix and Hulu streaming “coming soon.” (no idea on the specifics of the “coming soon” timeframe)  In my opinion, the Nook Tablet sounds like it’s going to be the better of the Nook options for only $50 more.

So, which is the best? For me, the Kindle Fire was the best option because I like to waste time on mindless games and keep lots of books on the Cloud service to re-download on a whim. I’m not sure there’s a clear cut winner here, except in storage capacity. Of course, there are other options out there, but I think these two brands are going to dominate the market. Naturally, if you want a bigger screen and lots of apps, get an iPad. You can get the Kindle app there and make it a giant e-reader.


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