Five reasons the Google Nexus 7 beats the Kindle Fire HD

Amazon has called its new Kindle Fire HD "The best tablet at any price." But that's far from the truth. Here are five reasons the Google Nexus 7 beats the Kindle Fire HD.

It's faster

Use both devices for a little while, and it's clear that the Google Nexus 7 is zippier than the Kindle Fire HD. Web pages load more quickly and it's just more responsive overall. I found that over time the Kindle Fire HD would experience lags when launching and running apps, something that doesn't happen with the Google Nexus 7.

There are likely several reasons for this. The Google Nexus 7 sports a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, while the Kindle Fire HD has a 1.2Ghz dual-core OMAP 4460 Texas Instruments processor. And it's likely that the Nexus 7 going with the latest version of Android, Jellybean, versus Amazon's interface layered on top of an earlier Android version, has something to do with it as well.

It's got GPS

The Google Nexus 7 has GPS built in, and the Kindle Fire HD doesn't. So don't look to the Kindle Fire HD for navigation or any other apps or capabilities that use GPS.

Apps, apps, and more apps

The Kindle Fire HD is app-poor; the Google Nexus 7 is app-rich. The Fire HD's built-in apps are underwhelming -- you can't even open your favorites when you're browsing a Web page. It lacks basic apps such as a to-do list. As for adding apps, with the Kindle Fire HD, you're largely stuck with Amazon's app store, with 30,000 apps, versus the Nexus 7's access to Google Play, with 600,000 as of late June, and plenty more since then.

Better design, fit, and finish

Overall, the physical design of the Google Nexus 7 is superior to the Kindle Fire HD. Although both devices have seven-inch screens, the Google Nexus 7 is noticeable narrower than the Kindle Fire HD and easier to use with one hand. And the on/off switch and volume controls on the Kindle Fire HD are almost impossible to find. As David Pogue of the New York Times accurately points out, not entirely tongue in cheek: "When you want to change the volume, you have to turn the tablet on edge to study them, preferably with a flashlight and a map."

It's got Jellybean

Jellybean is the latest and greatest version of Android, and it's a joy to use. It's fast, smooth-running, and simple to use, but still lets you customize it as much as you want. And it's got nifty features such as Google Now and Voice Search.

Amazon's own layered interface sits on top of an earlier version of Android. It's very good for consuming Amazon content, but not particularly well-suited for doing much else.

For my full review of the Kindle Fire HD, check here.


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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