Google’s launch of the Nexus 7 at the end of June represents a challenge to Amazon’s Kindle Fire, released last year. Both are 7 inch tablet devices designed to primarily play content from Google Play and the Amazon Store, and are distinct from Apple’s iPad in terms of power and price. The Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire are priced at around $200 (without a UK release date), and have less of the power and image quality than the iPad.
However, both the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire have more features than more basic competitors like Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet. In terms of whether Google’s device will kill off the Kindle Fire, it’s worth thinking about their development, head to head features, and whether the choice between them comes down to the hardware used, the software and the content available to download.
The Nexus 7
Google have had their own tablet in development for quite some time, and worked with Asus to develop a quad core Tegra 3 processor for power. The device plays content downloaded via Google Play, and uses an Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS that also enables standalone apps like Netflix. Like the Kindle Fire, the Nexus is designed to be used for reading eBooks, watching movies and listening to music, as well as for general browsing. The default browser is Google Chrome, and the device has an LED backlit screen, 1GB RAM, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and a built in camera, as well as a non removable, rechargeable battery.
The Kindle Fire
Amazon’s device is a premium version of the successful Kindle, which acts as more of a basic ebook reader with limited WiFi. By contrast, the 7 inch colour touchscreen Kindle is more of an all entertainment device streaming content from Amazon’s large holdings online. The Fire also makes use of Android, albeit in an older, Gingerbread version, and employs a 1 GhZ Texas Instruments processor. The Kindle Fire has 8 GB of storage, Wi Fi and USB connectivity, and a battery power of 8 hours reading, and 7.5 hours of video watching without the WiFi engaged. The default browser is Amazon Silk. Since its late 2011 release, the Kindle fire hit 1 million sales a week in December, and exceeded its targets for the first quarter of 2012.
Head to Head
Although both devices are the same price, the Nexus 7 is arguably more powerful than the older Kindle Fire. Both are 7 inches, but the Nexus 7 has a better screen resolution: 1280×800 compared to the Fire’s 1024×600. The Nexus is also slightly larger but thinner, and more powerful in terms of memory and storage. While the Kindle Fire doesn’t have a camera, the Nexus 7 lacks 3G and 4G support, as well as an HDMI port. Generally, then, the Nexus 7 gives you more power and better resolution for the same price, and is more of a loss leader for Google.
However, the appeal of both devices, and whether or not the Nexus 7 will overtake the Kindle Fire in popularity, comes to content. Both devices are effectively players for Google and Amazon’s content library, and buying either will depend on whether you already make use of Android on your phone, or have a well used Amazon account. The Nexus 7’s Android apps and cutting edge OS does, however, mean that it is more open platform at present than the Kindle Fire.
Both devices are still dwarfed by the iPad’s greater size, and compatibility with other Apple products, but represent excellent value for money in terms of power and content. It’s unlikely that the Nexus 7 will kill the Kindle Fire, which has the exclusive advantage of Amazon, and the established brand name of the Kindle behind it. Other competitors lie the Nook Tablet, which has less memory, but offers the advantage of an SD card slot for non downloaded content, may be too marginal, while the Blackberry Playbook lacks the content of the Google and Amazon devices. At present, the Nexus 7 is more value for money, but could be challenged when Amazon release a new Kindle Fire later this year.
Lisa Gan blogs about technology and social media, currently freelancing for Dcl Mobile – award-winning business mobile phone services company.