Nook Tablet vs. Kindle Fire: Which will win?

Holiday shoppers must decide between the Nook Tablet's superior features and the Kindle Fire's lower price

As predicted, Barnes & Noble introduced a $249 Nook Tablet that has about double the memory and internal storage of the upcoming $199 Amazon Kindle Fire.

Nook Tablet
The Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble.

While some of the Nook Tablet's specifications are superior to those of the Kindle Fire, the Nook's price fails to break below the magic $200 figure that will attract more consumers, analysts said Monday. As a result, the Kindle Fire, with its better-recognized brand name and access to widely known Amazon content, should sell better among holiday shoppers in the initial weeks when both go on sale.

Both devices have 7-in. touch screens and will be available next week. The Kindle Fire arrives Nov. 15 and the Nook Tablet comes by the end of next week at Barnes & Noble stores and other retailers, the company said.

The Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire are "very different products, but the critical break-point is $199, and $249 [for the Nook Tablet] does not have that same cachet with buyers," said Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group. "Below $200 is a much bigger market than $249, and Barnes & Noble is missing the break-point that's going to be the critical factor in sales, not specs."

Enderle's reasoning is based on consumer technology sales history and how shoppers buy during the holiday season. While a person buying for himself might weigh more carefully the superior memory and storage of the Nook Tablet, that same buyer would want to hold down the cost below $200 when buying one as a gift, he said.

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said the $50 difference could weigh against Barnes & Noble because "most buyers aren't crazy techies and won't go through every spec like I would ... For most users, the extra memory won't be that important."

IDC analyst Tom Mainelli said it is hard to predict how important the $50 price difference will be, but added that the customers Barnes & Noble is going after are "likely not that specification-driven."

Barnes & Noble also claimed the Nook has a better screen than the Kindle Fire, "but that's one of those things that you'll need to compare side by side." Both devices have a 1024 x 600 touch screen, but the Nook Tablet benefits from a VividView display, Barnes & Noble officials said.

Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch drubbed the Kindle Fire on its specs, calling it "deficient" as a media-playing device, partly because it has just 512MB of RAM, compared with the Nook Tablet's 1GB of RAM. Documents leaked on Engadget last week said the Nook's dual-core processor would have a processor speed of 1.2 GHz, but Barnes & Noble said Monday that the Nook's dual-core processor is 1 GHz, the same as the Kindle Fire's.

The Nook Tablet has 16GB of internal storage, expandable with a slot for a 32GB memory card, while the Kindle Fire has 8GB of internal storage that Lynch said would be insufficient for when a user is not connected to the Internet over Wi-Fi.

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