Amazon and Google will be going head-to-head this Christmas as both companies are looking to make a mark in the budget tablet market with their 7-inch tablets: the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. But which one gets you the most bang for your buck? Well, that’s exactly what were going to find out. It might be the case that this week a third competitor will enter the ring. But until the iPad Mini become reality we’ll blissfully ignore it for this face-off.
Round 1: Price
Both tablets have two price tags, £159 and £199 – meaning this face-off isn’t going to be solved on price alone. For the £159 Nexus 7 you get 8GB of onboard storage, while the Kindle Fire HD comes with a healthy 16GB. It’s the same for the £199 price point, too. The Nexus 7 comes with 16Gb of onboard memory, but once again the Kindle Fire HD offers far greater value for money as you get 32GB of onboard memory for the same £199 price point.
Round 2: Release date
The Nexus 7 has been on sale for a few weeks via Google’s Play Store – whilst the Kindle Fire HD won’t begin shipping until October 25. The late October release date might be an issue for the Kindle Fire HD, as it means picking one up in time for Christmas might be tricky if begins to fly of the shelves. A shaky European launch would be the last thing Amazon would want as the Kindle Fire hasn’t been on sale in Europe before. But with Amazon’s expertise in online retailing we’d hope they will have more than enough stock to cope with demand.
Round 3: Processor
The Kindle Fire HD comes with a Texas Instruments processor (yes, the folks who used to make those fancy calculators). Their OMAP4 processor is a dual-core model running at healthy 1.2Ghz. But until we actually get a retail version in our hands it’s going to be hard to know which is better. But we’d be very surprised if the Texas Instruments processor can better the Nexus 7’s Nvidia Tegra 3, which is a quad-core processor, clocked at 1.3GHz. Both devices promise all-day battery life, with the Kindle Fire HD promising 11 hours of continuous use and the Nexus 7 offer 9 hours.
Round 4: Memory (RAM)
Amazon hasn’t specified how much memory the Kindle Fire HD has, but as its cheaper sibling the Kindle Fire 2 has 1GB, we’re betting on that. The Nexus 7 has 1GB too.
Round 5: Operating System
Both tablets run Android – with the Nexus running 4.1 and the Kindle Fire HD running 4.0. Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD runs a stock version of Android so there’s no doubt it isn’t as accomplished as its competitor when comes to apps and functionality. You obviously don’t get the usual bevy of Android apps and the Kindle Fire HD doesn’t have access to the normal Google Play Store. Also there’s the likely hood Google will continue to update its OS for the Nexus 7, whilst Amazon might not – so we’d have to give this round to the Nexus 7.
Round 6: Display
Both tablets run identical 7-inch screens, running a 1280×800 resolution with Gorilla glass. But Amazon reckons its screen is better because of its polarising filter and anti-glare technology. The former is meant to improve viewing angles and the latter is used to reduce sunlight glare by up to 25%. That’s not all: the Kindle Fire HD comes with a Micro-HDMI connector – something the Nexus 7 does not.
Round 7: Storage
As we’ve mentioned before both tablets come with different storage solutions; you’ve got 8GB and 16GB on the Neux 7 and the Kindle Fire HD comes with 16GB and 32GB version.
Unfortunately neither tablet can be upgraded via SD cards – so once you’ve bought it there’s no going back. Obviously both companies want you to use their cloud-based services to supplement your storage – but if you can’t access the internet those solutions aren’t exactly ideal.
Remember that the operating system needs some of that storage too: Amazon says that the Kindle Fire HD gives you around 12.6GB on the 16GB model and 26.9GB on the 32GB.
Round 8: Speaker & Camera
The Nexus 7 comes with a meagre 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera for video calling. The Kindle Fire HD has a similar camera on the front for video calling, too. There isn’t much to choose between the two when it comes to camera, but the Kindle Fire HD has a pair of dual-driver stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus to deliver some decent quality sound. Whilst the Nexus 7 comes with some ordinary tablet speakers.
Round 9: Networking
At the moment both tablets only come with Wi-Fi, but a 3G nexus is in the pipeline. The Kindle Fire, again, comes up trumps with a dual MIMO Wi-Fi antennas which operates at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands – which should mean it performs a lot better than the Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 comes with a standard single antenna and can only use the crowded 2.4GHz frequency band. But you do get NFC for device-to-device sharing, built-in GPS, accelerometer and magnetometer for location-based apps.
Round 10: Weight
The Nexus 7 is 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm and weighs 340 grams, while the Kindle Fire HD is shorter and heavier at 193 x 137 x 10.3mm and 395g.
It’s clear from reading through the tech-specs that Amazon has gone to great lengths to make sure the Kindle Fire HD outshines its nearest competitor. There’s no doubt that the Nexus 7 is faster and with its access to the Google play store its going to be far more accomplished when it comes to the diversity and wealth of apps available. But when it comes to screen, storage and sound the Kindle Fire HD wins hands down. Basically the tablet we’d want is the Kindle Fire HD running a normal version of Android – but since that doesn’t exist we’d have to call it a draw. They’re both great in their own right. If you want apps then you need to go for the Nexus 7, but if you just want to read, watch and listen then we’d recommend the Kindle Fire HD.
The Nexus 7 is out now, and the Kindle Fire HD ships October 25.