I’ve mentioned before that I’m a tech junkie and an Android fan. I own a Motorola Xoom tablet (love it), and my wife has a Nook Tablet (8GB), which she loves as well. We’ve both been owners of black and white Nooks for years. We’ve been fans of the Nook for years. But now, with the recent release of the Google Nexus 7, I fear for the future of Nook Tablets, and the Kindle Fire as well.
Let’s start with what is now old, digested news: the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet set new standards for 7″ slates. (See here for the CNET comparison of the two: Kindle Fire vs. Nook Tablet) They were the real first attempt to give users an inexpensive tablet experience (web access, social media links, respectable processing power, etc) that transcended the eReader platforms they were born out of. I bought the Nook Tablet for my wife, who was quite skeptical of the utility. Within weeks she was a convert, and she uses the device constantly.
The problem with the Tablet, and with the Kindle Fire to a lesser degree , is the restrictive operating system. This is especially true of the Nook Tablet. Though a marvel piece of hardware, the OS does not allow (without hacking or the purchase of a third party conversion chip) for access to the Android Market (now Google Play), so you are forced to buy many Apps through the B&N Market that are free through Play. I’m not as familiar with the Fire, but I understand that there is a similar setup there, albeit to a more generous market.
So now enters the Nexus 7. Here’s the CNET review: Google Nexus 7. This device is vastly more powerful than either the Amazon or Barnes and Noble devices, and allows full access to Google Play. It is also priced the same as both the eReader tablets ($199). Now a consumer has a choice: do I buy a Fire or a Nook for about two hundred bucks, or do I buy an incredible, fully powered 7″ tablet (complete with camera) for the same price? One that, incidentally, you can load Kindle and Nook apps onto, so you can buy and read from both Amazon and B&N.
I imagine that this alone will be a real threat to the viability of both the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire. But add to that the rumored release of a 7″ iPad sometime soon, and then you’ve just given Apple disciples with an appetite for 7″ eReaders a new option.
I’ll be interested to see what the next generation Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet have to offer. Barnes and Noble have recently partnered with Microsoft, so maybe they’ll be able to pull some magic out for their Tablets. But it may also be that these trailblazers of the inexpensive tablet market may be forced back to the black and white eReader world once more, or their devices may have to make steep cuts in price. I hate to say it, but all things being equal, I would not think of buying a Fire or Tablet with the Nexus 7 out there.
What do you think?
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I love reading on devices that e-ink. We’ve got 2 second generation Kindles in my house and they are fantastic devices for reading at length-great on the eyes. For me personally, I prefer to do my reading on the non-color devices instead of the Swiss Army Knife style color tablets that attempt to be way more than an e-reader; these certainly have their purpose too, but I don’t think they are the best solution for reading. I still think there’s room for improvement with e-ink devices from the likes of Amazon and B&N for reader geeks like me.
I really enjoy the e-ink as well. I still use my black and white Nook, even though I have a Xoom tablet with the Nook and Kindle Apps. So I can’t help but wonder if B&N and Amazon will devote more resources to improving the B&W readers if Google, Motorola, Apple, and other tablet makers take over the $199 market. Thanks for your comment!