Kindle Fire vs Nook Color

This isn’t a Kindle Fire vs Nook Color review. This is just a comparison of Kindle Fire and Nook Color features and technical specifications.

  • Experience with Kindle Fire: None. We use Kindle Fire information Amazon has shared.
  • Experience with Nook Color: Nearly a year of ownership.
  • Biases: This is a Kindle Blog. I do love my Nook Color.

Nook Color is a Reading Tablet and is a bit more oriented towards reading. Kindle Fire is a general Tablet.

The wild card is Nook Color 2. A Nook Color 2 and a Nook Color 2 Acclaim (high-end version) might arrive by the time Kindle Fire ships. Then Kindle Fire vs Nook Color 2 would be the more apt comparison.

Kindle Fire vs Nook Color – Price

The elephant in the room is the $199 price of the Kindle Fire.

Nook Color at $249 is a steal. However, at $50 cheaper, Kindle Fire clearly wins the pricing war. This might mean that a whole segment of people (those who won’t pay more than $199 for a device that only does everything) will only consider Kindle Fire.

If price is your primary criteria, Kindle Fire is probably your first choice. You might as well skip the rest of this Kindle Fire vs Nook Color comparison.

  1. Kindle Fire is probably going to be cheaper than Nook Color 2. If B&N comes in at $199 Amazon is likely to lower the price of Kindle Fire further.
  2. Refurbished Nook Colors are available for $179. If you don’t mind refurbished and are looking for ‘lowest price possible’ above all else – consider a refurbished Nook Color.
  3. Amazon has a lot more flexibility to subsidize prices as it can sell users all sorts of things. B&N is limited to books and toys and a few other things. Amazon is probably going to win the Lowest Price Tablet battle against B&N every time.

By the end of this Kindle Fire vs Nook Color comparison we’ll have a good idea whether Amazon’s price advantage also translates into a value for money advantage.

I’ll put up a Kindle Fire vs Nook Color 2 comparison when B&N reveals Nook Color 2.

Kindle Fire vs Nook Color – 5 Things Kindle Fire brings to the Table

The 5 biggest things Amazon brings to the Tablet table are -

  1. The $199 Price – which is very impressive for a 7″ Tablet.
  2. Access to content of all sorts – books, music, TV shows, movies, games, apps. For example – 100,000 movies and TV shows.
  3. Amazon Silk – A browser that promises faster browsing. The slight negative is that it might be a privacy nightmare.
  4. Amazon Android App Store – which has thousands of apps and games (exactly how many will work well on Kindle Fire’s 7″ screen is not known). B&N’s App Store only has around 790 apps and games (though those are all optimized for Nook Color).
  5. Amazon Infrastructure – By virtue of running the most successful set of Cloud Services in the world, Amazon has an advantage in infrastructure.

There are some other Kindle Fire advantages which you might find compelling -

  1. Amazon’s custom-built UI for Kindle Fire looks rather fetching. People who’ve seen it first-hand are also impressed by how fast and responsive it is. It’s also built on a later version of Android (2.3.4 supposedly).
  2. When it comes to eBooks, Kindle Store has the better prices.
  3. Faster dual-core processor. Nook Color has a 800 Mhz single core processor while Kindle Fire’s dual core processor is rumored to run at 1.2 Ghz.
  4. [Not Sure of This] It seems that Nook Color does not have the reinforced higher-strength glass display that Kindle Fire does. It’s not mentioned anywhere in Nook Color specs.
  5. Light Weight – At just 14.6 ounces (413 grams) it’s lighter than Nook Color (442 grams) and considerably lighter than 10″ Tablets. This isn’t a big advantage but might matter to you.
  6. Cloud Storage. There is free Cloud Storage for all content you buy from Amazon. There may or may not be the option to store your own content in the cloud. If it matches Amazon’s usual Cloud offering then the first 5 GB of your own content will be stored for free.
  7. More Compact – Kindle Fire is 7.5″ by 4.7″ by 0.45″ while Nook Color is 8.1″ by 5″ by 0.48″. Again, not a big advantabe but it might matter to you.

We’ll take a look at Amazon vs B&N later and that will cover Amazon strengths such as Cloud Services/Infrastructure and Customer Service.

Kindle Fire vs Nook Color – 4 Things Nook Color has that Fire doesn’t

Nook Color holds up surprisingly well for a Tablet that was released a year ago and is a ‘Reading Tablet’.

  1. SD Card Slot and Rooting. Nook Color is very easy to root and you can even set up a SD Card such that it lets you switch between default B&N OS and rooted Android OS easily. The SD Card also lets you add as much storage as you like (SD cards up to 32 GB are supported). The easy rooting means things like access to Android Market and access to reading apps from other eBook companies. Kindle Fire rooting is probably going to be tougher.
  2. ePub Support by Default. Get ebooks from any store except Amazon (though you can root your Nook Color to get access to Kindle Android App). While there are apps like Kobo in Amazon’s Android App Store which support ePub, it is unknown whether they will be approved for Kindle Fire.
  3. Nook Color is a proven device and it’s available now. B&N confirmed last year that it was selling 700,000 Tablets a month during Holiday Season. After 10+ months of use by millions of users and a few software updates (that added an app store and email and other improvements) Nook Color is a battle-tested Reading Tablet. Kindle Fire won’t be available until November 15th and then we’ll have to see what people and Kindle Fire reviews say. Nook Color is also a good ownership experience. Most of the Nook Color owners I’ve talked to love it. There are certain intangibles that you only experience after owning a device – likability and usefulness and satisfaction. Nook Color has that. Kindle Fire probably will too – but we’ll only know after people have owned it for a while.
  4. Nook Color is a Reading Tablet and likely to be better for reading. While both Kindle Fire and Nook Color have ‘specially treated’ screens (which aren’t really as effective as you might think) Nook Color is a reading Tablet and more focused on reading. Unless Kindle Fire has some features we haven’t yet heard of, Nook Color is likely to be the better device for reading.

There are some additional areas where Nook Color has an advantage -

  1. Nook Color has wider support for document and file formats. Kindle Fire supports MP4 and VP8 video formats while Nook Color supports 3GP, MP4, 3G2, and FLV. Nook Color supports Word, Excel, and Powerpoint formats natively (DOC, PPT, PPS, DOCM, XLSM, PPTM, PPSX, PPSM, DOCX, XLSX, PPTX) and also supports RTF (real text format). While Kindle Fire supports quite a few audio formats (Audible, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV) Nook Color supports more i.e. 3GP, 3G2, MP4, AMR, MP3, MID, XMF, MXMF, RTTL, OTA, IMY, FLV, SWF, WAV, OGG,  and ACC. You could get apps on Kindle Fire to support these – However, it’s far more convenient to have in-built support.
  2. B&N seems to be going after the Kids market very aggressively. While Amazon promises 1,000+ illustrated children’s books we’ll have to see if it can match the range of children’s books and apps Nook Color has.
  3. You can go in and see a Nook Color in a physical store. You can buy it right now. If you have questions you can jump into a store and ask your questions.

It makes Nook Color all the more impressive that even a year after release it matches Kindle Fire on important aspects like screen quality and even holds some clear advantages.

Amazon vs B&N

Almost as important as the devices are the companies behind them. Here are some key areas and how Amazon and B&N do in them -

  1. Customer Service – Amazon is the clear winner with its better customer service. B&N’s advantage is having all these stores you can go into for help.
  2. Innovation – Surprisingly, it is B&N that is leading in Tablet innovation. Nook Color from November 2011 is nearly as good as Kindle Fire from November 2012. Will Nook Color 2 be as innovative and ahead of the curve as Nook Color 1?
  3. Financial Stability – Amazon is the clear winner here. B&N’s disadvantage is its shaky financial situation. There are however two escapes – Nook Color is easy to root, B&N books are in epub format and Nook Color supports ePub format.
  4. Return Policy – Amazon’s 30 day return policy is better than B&N’s 14 day return policy. Both stores have generous Holiday Return Policies but Amazon’s is better. You could always get Nook Color from Best Buy and take advantage of its return policy.
  5. Store and Website. Both sites do a good job. Amazon has the advantage as it sells a lot more things and has a lot more web experience.
  6. Trust. This is a tough one. Both companies have a lot of loyal customers.

Financial Stability is the big one here. B&N is not in any danger of disappearing any time soon – In fact, Nook and Nook Color pretty much guarantee that. However, Amazon is more stable and more capable of fighting a price war.

Kindle Fire, Nook Color are uncomfortably close

Kindle Fire and Nook Color are currently close with Kindle Fire slightly ahead (mostly due to its cheaper price and better access to content of all sorts).

Kindle Fire is better for people who want a Tablet that – is cheaper, offers easy access to all types of content, has a tougher screen, is faster, has a faster browser, is compacter and lighter, offers Amazon’s backing and customer support.

Nook Color is better for people who want a Tablet that – is tested and safe, offers a SD Card slot, is easier to root, is probably better for reading, offers ePub support, offers wider format support, is available now, you can go to a store and try out.

Kindle Fire is the winner – provided that it does indeed deliver on all it promises. We’ll know once it is out and journalists’ and real users’ Kindle Fire reviews arrive. Kindle Fire also seems to be better value for money.

Before we make any recommendations, there is one last twist – Nook Color 2 is almost certainly around the corner.

The Importance of Nook Color 2

The biggest wild card in the Kindle Fire vs Nook Color decision is that two Nook Color 2s are around the corner – a spiritual successor to Nook Color that might be $249 or less, and a high-end Nook Color 2 that might be $349.

Since Nook Color is quite competitive with Kindle Fire – it’s quite possible Nook Color 2 ends up being the best 7″ Tablet available for Christmas 2011.

Kindle Fire isn’t out until mid-November. Nook Color 2 will benefit from all the lessons B&N has learnt in the course of selling millions of Nook Colors. Kindle Fire vs Nook Color 2 is the comparison to look at when deciding what Tablet to buy for Christmas 2011.

My Recommendation on Kindle Fire vs Nook Color: Wait to see what Nook Color 2 is like. B&N’s second generation Reading Tablet might outshine Amazon’s first generation Tablet.

28 Responses

  1. Talking about rooting a device as a “feature” is misguided. I myself am an IT professional, and I wouldn’t think about rooting devices such as these. First it voids your warranty — and even if it didn’t, it makes troubleshooting a bear — it’s just much simpler not to go down the rooting pathway.

    For the majority of non-technical users who are the primary target of these devices, giving them a feature comparison based on a rooted device, does them a disservice, and is flat out misleading.

    I agree people should wait for the NC2.

    • Rooting is listed as one feature in the feature comparison.

      Perhaps you got stuck on that point and didn’t read the rest.

      • Of course I read your comparison. I only mentioned rooting because I don’t believe that should have any place in product comparisons targeted at general audiences. I didn’t mention any of your other points because I didn’t have any problem with them.

        Ad hominem replies are never helpful: implying I didn’t read your evaluation lowers your credibility not mine :D

      • I think you are misunderstanding the point –

        You think being able to root a device easily is not a feature or an advantage.
        I do.

        please go to any site like MobileRead or NookDevs and look at the number of people who are rooting their devices. You are the one coming to this blog and claiming that I should not mention rooting. Do you have any statistics to back that up? I have two entire forums of users who regularly hack both their Kindles and their Nook Colors.

      • I guess I misunderstood your readership — up until this product announcement most of your posts have been general in nature (mostly free book offers as I recall). Over at mobilread.com the readership is clearly technical and rooting is an appropriate topic (in fact they have a whole subsection devoted to it).

        I still think I have the right to voice an opinion that rooting is not an appropriate feature for general audiences. I do agree that for a very small segment of the customer population rooting can be an advantage — just not for the vast majority of customers of these kinds of products. enough said:-).

      • I don’t understand why you care so much about rooting being mentioning. I think you’re right and we should just stop discussing this.

      • Edward, you say “A feature comparison based on a rooted device”. That means that you believe the entire feature comparison was based on a rooted device, if a normal person reads your comment. This is not the case, the ability to root is mentioned as a single feature *in* the feature comparison.

        Thinking you didn’t bother to read the post properly is thus completely justified — it was what I was thinking as well. Of course the other option is you expressed yourself unclearly. That’s fine, sometimes it happens — but getting that defensive about it, not to mention insulting to the owner of the space we’re in here, is not cool.

        Devices that are easily rooted/jailbroken tend to have that mentioned even in reviews on places like engadget & gizmodo — not so much the New York Times. I’d posit that the readership over here is slightly to the more technical than the Giz readership. It’s a feature that is important to some people and isn’t to others — like most others.

  2. Hey, thank you for some very important information.
    I would definietely buy a kindle when I’m readyi
    But, I think I’ll buy the new $79. Kindle, since I really just
    need the e-book feature. Also, I love dealing with Amazon.

  3. By the way, switch. Do you think I should wait for the 99. kindle
    tough over the 79 dollar one. If the 99.. one can do e-mail I would find that useful. Freddy

    • Switch is pretty firmly in the “nobody needs the Kindle 4, they need the Kindle Touch or Kindle Keyboard instead” camp.

      http://ireaderreview.com/2011/09/28/kindle-touch-review/

      “Not even going to discuss the $79 Kindle because its lack of speakers and lack of keyboard/touch make it a horror in my opinion. Just pay $20 more and get Text to Speech and background music and easy typing of notes.”

      I think it’s worth debating — however, if you can afford the extra $20 (25.3%, after all), it’s really easy to think of reasons to spend it, to taste on either the KT or even the good old K3 (now aka Kindle keyboard). The K4 is the low budget option — it’s K3/KK for people who never want to take notes, and rarely want to insert bookmarks, mainly. Or log in on public WiFi networks.

      If Kindle Touch had physical page turn buttons, I’d be recommending it even to people who don’t want Touch — because then you’d use touch when it’s really useful (navigation etc), and not when you just want to read and not smudge the screen. Personally, even on my K3, I never manage to keep the screen completely smudge free, because I tend to carry the thing with my thumb on the screen. Never has hurt it yet, and it cleans up easily and well.

      • Switch, or anyone. I still have not gotten an answer to my question as to whether the Kindle $99. special keyboard reader can receive
        and send e-mail. Can I read my e-mail on my computer when on the road. Can I then answer it on my Kindle 99. keyboard.
        Will appreciate any help on this. Thanks, Freddy

      • As Roger Knights says below — no current Kindle has an email client, except for the Kindle Fire. To the best of my knowledge the Kindle Touch doesn’t have one, either.

        You also can’t use the free 3G that Amazon pays for to read email on your computer, for obvious reasons.

        You can, sort of, run gmail in the experimental web browser and use that — but it’s very much an “emergency use only” thing. I used twitter through the Kindle’s 3G while I was on holiday and bored silly, but it was not particularly easy or a good experience.

    • Yes, Touch Kindle is much better value for money and will be easier to use.

      • Switch, I’m still a little confused (or maybe amazed). Can I receive and send my e-mail from the kindle keyboard. Also, does it use Google mail. Freddy

      • @Fred:
        Unfortunately, the KK doesn’t have an e-mail client (unlike the Fire). I’ve been bugging the company about it every since the KK1 came out.

  4. DO YOU THINK AMAZON WILL OFFER FREE BOOKS FOR “FIRE” ALSO?

    • Fire will use the Android Kindle Reading App (or a variant). It will share the same store and same offers as all Kindles and all Kindle Reading Apps. So, yes, all free offers will also be available for Kindle Fire.

  5. I really like my Nook Color running the CyanogenMod software.

    [Link Removed - For Legal reasons we don't link to rooting software]

    Modding / rooting Android devices isn’t for everyone, though. Of course, I can always reload the standard B&N software back onto my Nook Color if I desire to do that.

    Cheers!
    -Bob F.

    • “[Link Removed - For Legal reasons we don't link to rooting software]”

      Ooops!! Sorry. My bad.

      Cheers!
      -Bob F.

  6. I beleive RTF stands for Rich Text Format, not Real Text Format. Rich meaning that it can have font sizes, italics, etc. as opossed to plain text which only has letters. Otherthan that, I tink the biggest difference between te NC and the KF will be the processor. When I use a piece of electronics, what I want it to do is react. I want everyhing to be zippy, across the board. I like having a beautiful, painless experience where everything jumps beatifully and quickly a the touch of my finger, wonderfully animated.Rooting, by the way, probably shouldn’t be mentioned, because the KF is an unreleased product. If it was released this instant, it would probably be rootable. Think about how longit took for the NC to be rooted. It would be a matter of days before it was rootable.

    • Alex, the Nook Color is fine to use. No sluggishness.

      Rooting I think should be mentioned for a few reasons –

      1) For Nook Color there are a ton of options and you can even have a SD Card that lets you switch between stock OS and Android OS. That’s a big benefit.
      2) If Amazon has locked down Kindle Fire strongly then rooting process will be tougher.
      3) There is already a strong community of hackers doing things with Nook Color like exploring the Bluetooth etc.

      Think about it from the perspective of a user who is not tech-savvy but would like an easy way to root and an easy way to undo. The SD Card dual boot option is really easy.

  7. Well, iPhone 4s sold over a million units in 24-hours. Now, with the coverage on Kindle 4, KT, Fire, what do you think Apple is planning for this coming spring? iPad 3 or iPad Air?

    Game on.

    • Not sure what Apple is planning. Not sure it’s going to matter in the long run.

    • I can tell you one thing for sure — what Apple is planning for spring
      has very little to do with what Amazon is doing right now. Apple’s product development takes a bit longer than that.

  8. One Fire advantage was missed: Its got gorilla glass. (Or is that the Kindle Touch? Or do they both have it?)

    • I have mentioned the reinforced glass that is missing in Nook Color but present in Kindle Fire. I wasn’t sure it was Gorilla Glass. Thanks for the name.

  9. I’m happy with my K3 so I will just wait a couple of years to see how things shake out. Money in my pocket is never money wasted.

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