There has been some question about the importance of pricing in the Kindle Fire’s dominance over the seemingly superior Nook Tablet. On paper the Barnes & Noble tablet is definitely the slightly better device with more storage, expandable memory, twice the RAM, and otherwise similar hardware, which means it makes sense to pick out the one aspect of the comparison (in this case the price) that goes against it when determining why the Nook Tablet hasn’t done better. Barnes & Noble obviously thought so, and has decided to start offering a version of the Nook Tablet at $200 that sacrifices nothing but its superior onboard storage. Surely they are hoping this will be enough to at least start to draw even with the Kindle Fire.
The big question we have to ask now is whether or not this is a reasonable expectation from such a small change. Have people really been choosing the Kindle Fire just to get 20% off the competition’s price? This is definitely a possibility for some buyers, but overall there are other factors that we have to consider. What you buy when you get one of these tablets is more than just the physical device at this point; it’s an entire content ecosystem.
Many, myself included, are of the opinion that the real strength of the Kindle Fire stems from its deep integration with Amazon’s systems. It is undoubtedly a mixed blessing thanks to the associated lack of access to the main Google App Marketplace among other things, but this integration does allow for some impressive features. The on-device storage is practically irrelevant when a decent WiFi network is in range, for example, thanks to the streaming media options Amazon has made available. There is also more than enough space at any given time for several dozen apps, a couple hundred eBooks, and assorted music and video files. Will you be carrying around entire seasons of your favorite television show? Probably not. You can expect to have several hours worth of viewing on hand for when wireless connectivity is unavailable, though.
Barnes & Noble simply isn’t offering the same amount of service, which is why it makes sense for them to be trying to make up the difference with somewhat superior hardware at the same price as the Kindle Fire. The new Nook Tablet is, if anything, an even better option than the 16GB model for those looking into the possibility of rooting their new tablet, but if you’re keeping the stock firmware then it is a decision that should be carefully considered. Nothing has changed or improved here, when it comes right down to it, besides dropping the price.
If you are a fan of the Nook, or dislike the idea of Amazon’s having a hold on your tablet, this is a great deal. If you really want a color LCD device for reading on, the Nook Tablet is also still your best option. If these situations don’t apply to you, however, the $200 Kindle Fire vs $200 Nook Tablet competition is still pretty heavily weighted in favor of Amazon.