The Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire, the new tablet computers from Barnes & Noble and Amazon respectively, are both capable performers that have a lot going for them, at a low price.
As the Consumer Report video shows, our tests, which are nearly complete, largely bear out our initial, and generally positive, impressions of both the B&N and Amazon devices. In the way of key distinctions, the Nook Tablet's greater storage capacity makes it good for people who want to use it a lot away from Wi-Fi and the device's read-and-record storybook feature might appeal to families. The Kindle Fire is great for people who are big Amazon users. It's also less expensive by $50, allows easy access to thousands of free videos with Amazon Prime membership, and has a great music player.
On the Kindle Fire, you can choose to store music, and other content such as apps, in Amazon's Cloud service, where you can access it when you're connected to Wi-Fi or download content from the cloud to the device with a few screen presses. That cloud integration helps mitigate the Kindle Fire's 2-to-1 deficit in storage capacity compared with the Nook Tablet.
The biggest surprise to our tests might be that we've found little advantage to Amazon's Silk technology, which purports to speed up loading Web pages on the Kindle Fire's browser. Indeed, in our tests so far, many pages took a bit longer to load when the Silk's supposed accelerator was on. Amazon has said it will improve over time, and we'll continue to test the technology, but for now we don't see it alone as a compelling reason to buy the Kindle Fire, whose Web browser was on a par with the competent one in the Nook Tablet.
Next week, we'll post an updated Ratings of tablet computers and post more details about how the respective performance of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet. In the meantime, you can also check our comparison of their features and specs.