Today we will be comparing the three most popular and awaited $199 Android tablets. Each of these tablets also happens to be from well-known brands and feature a 7 inch display. The truth is that none of these tablets are alike, and as a result, we decided to roll all three of these tablets into one review to make comparing them easier in order to help consumers more easily decide what to purchase. We expect these $199 tablets to be extremely popular for this holiday shopping season as they are priced at a sweet spot and are all brand name products.Introduction - Design and Functionality
In this section, we will cover the physical design of the products including their hardware specifications and design choices as well as their overall functionality as a result of these decisions.
Left to Right: Nexus 7, Nook HD, Kindle Fire HD
When it comes to these three tablets, there is a drastic difference when it comes to design principles and each tablet has its strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to overall aesthetics, the Nook HD
is without a doubt the best looking and lightest (315g) tablet compared to the Nexus 7
(340g) and Kindle Fire HD
(390g). The Nook HD is also a grayish color while the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 are more of a black color front and back. The Nook HD has a rubberized smooth finish to it and is the most standard in terms of size for a tablet. The Nexus 7 has an interesting black dimpled texture on the back, with metal edging and a black front. It also seems like it is the skinniest and longest, while the Amazon Kindle Fire HD feels like it is the shortest and fattest. Of the three, the Nexus 7 and Nook HD feel the most comfortable being held vertically.
Left to Right: Nook HD, Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD
Beyond the overall initial looks and weight of the tablets, the display on Nook HD looks just a little bit sharper than the Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD. This is because even though all three tablets are 7" they do not have the same resolution. The Nook HD sports a 1440x900 resolution while the other two tablets have a 1280x800 resolution. The difference is admittedly negligible in most cases, but it will offer slightly sharper looking video playback and more webpage visibility.
In addition to the looks, weight, and resolution, there is also the topic of battery capacity. There is a variance of 10% between the battery sizes of the tablets, which should indicate relatively similar battery life depending on the SoC and display power consumption. The Kindle Fire HD has a 4400 mAh battery while the Nexus 7 sports a 4324 mAh battery and the Nook HD a 4050 mAh one.The Kindle Fire HD sports a Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 dual core SoC @ 1.2GHz with 1GB of RAM while the Nexus 7 features an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core SoC @ 1.3GHz with 1GB of RAM and the Nook features an OMAP 4470 dual core @ 1.3GHz with 1GB of RAM.
One interesting thing is that the Nook HD is also the only tablet of the three without a front-facing camera. This means that tablet does not support Skype or video chat of any sort, which may be a negative point for some. It does, however, follow the design principles of previous Nook tablets which also lacked front facing cameras.
One must also take into consideration that the Nook HD is the only tablet of the three that only features 8GB of internal storage, while the other two have 16GB standard at the same price. Of that 8GB, only 5.44GB is actually available for storage of books, music, and movies, which is not much. The Kindle Fire HD gives you 12.8GB of usable space and the Nexus 7 gives you 13.2GB, so in reality the Nook has only 68% available out of 8GB and the Kindle Fire HD has 80% available out of 16GB, while the Nexus 7 has 82.5% of 16GB. The one saving grace of the Nook in this category is that it, unlike its competitors, sports a microSD card slot supporting up to 32GB of storage. However, we do not want anyone to be fooled by claims of their capacity when having to figure in OS and other files.
Nexus 7's two connectors, 3.5mm headphone jack and microUSB for data and power.
Another thing to consider when looking at these tablets is their connectivity. Amazon handily won this category because they not only have microUSB like the Nexus 7, but they also enable HDMI through a microHDMI connector. The Nexus 7 does not support video out through microUSB like many smartphones using MHL nowadays do. The Nook is a similar story, but worse, because they decided that they would use a totally proprietary connector. This is disappointing, because the Nook Color had a custom high-power microUSB connector, but would still accept regular microUSB as well. The one nice thing about the Nook HD is that it does have a microSD card slot, which we mentioned earlier, that allows media swapping and provides the ability to increase the capacity of the device by up to an additional 32GB from the initial measly 5GB. The Nexus 7 also has Google's own docking system with four pins for easy docking and undocking, but they don't have any accessories that make use of that yet.
The Nook HD and it's proprietary connector and MicroSD card slot as well as mic and speakers pictured (above)
Finally, in the design category we wanted to talk about the buttons and their placement/function. The buttons on the Nexus 7 protrude from the casing of the body to the point where they are very easily found, but they are not necessarily aesthetically pleasing. The Nook HD's buttons protrude from the body of the tablet and are the smallest buttons out of the three tablets. Furthermore, the power/unlock button of the Nook HD is on the left, unlike the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 which both have it on the right. The one saving grace of this oddity is that the Nook is the only tablet of the three with a physical home button unlike the other two which have software home buttons. The Amazon Kindle Fire HD bothered us the most in this section, because all three buttons of the tablet are totally flush with the body of the tablet and virtually impossible to feel for by touch. Some may say that these are most aesthetically pleasing, but they are an absolute pain because they often require one to physically look at the tablet in order to find the buttons.
The sides of the tablets pictured with their respective buttons and Kindle Fire HD's connectivity
Amazon Kindle Fire's flush Power and Volume Buttons and 3.5mm headphone jack
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