Kindle Fire and Nexus 7.

And that's the question of the summer. Should you get the Amazon Kindle Fire, or the Google Nexus 7. Finally we've got a real choice between low-cost 7-inch tablets. Both are geared toward content consumption -- reading books and magazines, watching movies, listening to music. 

Amazon certainly made quite the market for itself when it launched the Kindle Fire late last year. At only $199 and promoted heavily on Amazon's website, it was sure to sell a bunch. And a bunch it did sell.

So which one should you get? Let's discuss, after the break.

Price

Easy comparison here. The Kindle Fire, which comes in one version and one version only, is $199. The Nexus 7 is $199 for the version with 8 gigabytes of storage, and Google's also got a 16-gigabyte model for $249 -- still a perfectly reasonable price for this sort of thing.

The verdict: Push

Kindle Fire and Nexus 7.Kindle Fire and Nexus 7.

The form factor

Things are pretty similar here as well. Both are 7-inch tablets, designed to be mainly used in portrait (vertical) orientation. The Neus 7 is taller (8.5 mm taller) than the Kindle Fire, and both are 120 mm wide. But the Nexus 7 shaves just about a full millimeter off the thickness, and the sides curve in toward the back, making it feel that much thinner than the Kindle Fire, which is basically just a box. Both have a soft-touch coating on the back, which we like.

The Nexus 7 adds actual volume buttons (which are rumored to show up on the next version of the Kindle Fire), and also has external charging contacts that point toward some sort of docking station.

But the kicker is the Nexus 7's higher-resolution display (1280x800). It simply looks better than the Kindle Fire.

The verdict: Nexus 7

Under the hood

Again, this one's a pretty easy decision. The Kindle Fire is using the dual-core TI OMAP 4430 at 1GHz with 512MB of RAM. Don't read too much into the amount of RAM, as if a device is optimized properly, it can run just fine. But, we'd rather have more RAM available than not. The Nexus 7 is running the newer "Kai" version of the Tegra 3 platform. That means four cores -- plus that fifth low-power companion core -- are available, with clock speed varying depending on which cores are running. 

That the Nexus 7 is running Tegra 3 also means some serious gaming is coming your way, something you're not really going to see on the Kindle Fire.

The bottom line is that, under the hood, the Nexus 7 is more of a full-fledged, traditional tablet.

The verdict: Nexus 7

Kindle Fire and Nexus 7.

Content

This is where Google's still trying to break out. Amazon's well-established itself as a major content provider, between Amazon Music -- which still has a far better selection than Google -- and its video streaming service, which includes movies and television shows.

Google's just adding that in Google Play. And that, folks, is where we find the true purpose of the Nexus 7. We've talked before about whether it's "Just another Android tablet," and clearly Google has developed this one with purpose. But for now, Amazon still has the better selection.

That said ... The Nexus 7, being an actual Android device with the Google Play store at its fingertips, has flexibility that the Kindle Fire doesn't. It has the full selection of apps, and whereas the Kindle Fire is mostly locked into Amazon's services, on the Nexus 7 you can use Amazon's library. Or purchase books from Barnes & Noble and read on the Android Nook app. Or download music from Amazon MP3 store. That's flexibility that the Kindle Fire doesn't have, and it can help make up for the growing pains Google Play has experienced.

The verdict: Kindle Fire, but not by much

The software

The Nexus 7 is running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the newest version of Android. The Kindle Fire is running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but you'd never really know it, it's been so heavily customized. (Not that that's a bad thing; Amazon's done it quite well.) But Google's going to take care of its Nexus baby.

The verdict: Nexus 7

So which should you buy?

We're going to hedge just a tad here by saying that there's always something newer and better around the corner, and recent rumors suggest we might see a new Kindle Fire at the end of July. 

But for right now, today, should you get the Kindle Fire or the Nexus 7? It's a pretty easy choice, we believe. The Nexus 7 has better internals, a better display and more flexibility of services. It's also got the added bonus of being a "Nexus" device, meaning it has the full attention of Google, whereas the Kindle Fire is using Google's code and has to forge ahead on its own. Not that Amazon hasn't done a yeoman's job of that, and the Nexus 7 most certainly is a reaction to that. But Nexus means not having to depend on others.

And so, we can easily recommend the Google Nexus 7. At $199 (or even $249), it's pretty much a no-brainer for the 7-inch tablet market.

 

Reader comments

Google Nexus 7 or Amazon Kindle Fire?

81 Comments

I'm going to disagree on the content front. All of the books available to Amazon can be had via the Kindle app. You don't get the library lending, but I don't know many people who would care if that was gone. And what about Netflix and Hulu plus and stuff? Can you even do those on the Fire?

Well, if I'm not mistaken Kindle does have a Netflix app (not sure about Hulu), but overall you're right. There was a time, when the Kindle was first released, that I actually thought of wanting one. But eventually what made me change my mind was the limiting true tablet function. Not being able to download the apps I really want or that the fact that even if I did it would still require a helluva lot of tweaking and modding just to get it to do those things. So I bought inexpensive aftermarket Renas3 tablet instead.

Like you mentioned it's not like you'd be totally void of the 'Amazon ecosystem' if you went w/ the Nexus 7--just like for any other Android tabs you can still download pretty much most of the Amazon apps from the market (aka 'Play') and they do the same function, especially the Kindle one--minus the lending part. If you're comparing apples-to-apples I'd say that the Nexus 7 is definitely the better deal.

The Kindle does have both Netflix & Hulu+ apps, and actually has quite a decent selection of apps. Just about anything that is a top app is available in both app stores, as developers actually make more per user from Amazon's store.

In addition, I can say for a fact as a Kindle Fire owner that it does not "require a helluva lot of tweaking and modding" to be able to use the Google Play store. In fact, using the app "Kindle Fire Utility" it's pretty much a "download the app, run, connect your Kindle, press a button, done in 3 minutes" kind of affair. The tablet is then rooted, with GAPPS and GO Launcher installed at your option.

That being said, this hardware kills the Kindle: faster, better OS, better screen, lighter, and Google ready "out-of-the-box". I will definitely be getting one.

Regarding apps, most of the popular ones I've seen cost more in the Amazon store. Though, they have the "one free app a day" which you can also get on any Android device.

Ther can be no comparison -- Nexus 7 wins hands down. It's newer and understandably has a vastly superior hardware (screen, CPU, GPU, storage options, OS, camera, NFC, bluetooth).

What's this "content" about? Amazon will be happy to sell you all the content you want to your Nexus 7.

Can you show me where I can get an official download of Amazon Video? I'm an Amazon Prime user and would like to watch Doctor Who on my upcoming N7. (Please note that Doctor Who is not available on Google Play, in spite of any model TARDIS's seen around the Google office.)

Exactly. I have a shortcut programmed on my DolphinHD start page for my Amazon Video Library. Video displays fine in the browser. If you hover over the video you can tap to enlarge to full screen and the web page goes away. The device works just as easily as if you were watching Dr Who on Netflix.

I switched to buying my DrWho season on Amazon from iTunes when I figured out this trick for my Android tablets last year. Now all my video comes from either Amazon or Netflix.

Only thing you cannot do is download the video for offline viewing. It's stream only.

ummm, the chrome browser doesn't have flash support...

And I've tried that and it doesn't come close to the clarity and smooth streaming of the amazon prime video app.

Sorry, but google is not even close on multimedia content and ease of use yet. And the Fire has a new device coming end of july. Better to compare hardware that is 30 days apart instead of 8 months.

I stand corrected. I posted this before Adobe announced it was killing Flash for mobile (specifically any OS post ICS which includes Nexus 7's Jelly Bean). That said, I've heard some Nexus 7 owners (the developers at IO, I presume) have been able to watch Amazon Video just fine. How I'm not certain.

Netflix does indeed carry all the current 6 seasons of Doctor Who. Trouble is they won't be carrying Season 7 until sometime next year when it finishes airing. So if you're being a good little Whovian and buying your episodes in a digital subscription, you really need to be able to watch your Amazon Video Library.

I'm waiting to see how Amazon handles Adobe's dropping of mobile Flash. IMHO they need to come out with a dedicate app for Android to remain relevant. Otherwise they open a huge whole for Google Play to march through.

I completely agree, I have an older kindle (3rd gen I believe) and I don't even like the idea of reading on LCD screens. E-ink is the hands down winner when it comes to an e-reader. Nexus 7 performs the tablet functions much better it seems compared to a kindle fire.

I have to disagree. I've owned a SONY PRS-505 and a K2 (older than yours ;) ) And reading on the nookColor is a far better experience. The contrast is better and so is the software.

I do miss being able to read in direct sunlight but then again I do get to benefit from being able to read at night without the glare on my screen.

Kindle Fire also limits you to Amazon play store. Nexus 7 wins on that one as well with no restrictions.

Dang!!! I just got the Kindle Fire about 6 weeks ago. Wish I would have waited. Guess I could sell it on Craigslist or Ebay. :(

You'll typically get more from eBay and Craiglist though. Gazelle is only good if you just don't want to jack with it and get a pittance. Kind of like those places who'll come buy your house, no questions asked. You pay a premium for convenience.

Amazon is probably just as happy if you buy the Nexus. I still buy tons of stuff 24/7 from Amazon on my windows computers, Galaxy tablet, Galaxy phone etc lol I freaking love Amazon so much and just because I have an Android tablet and not a Fire that doesn't mean I'm even gonna slow down in buying stuff from amazon lol

@robotaholic,

My thoughts exactly. I'm a happy Amazon customer regardless of what devices I use to access them or their content on. Amazon makes it easy to access their content/services no matter what anyway, so if anything while it might give them a kick in the ass, hardware-wise, content purchased is what matters to them the most. Amazon's still gonna get a piece out this deal anyway when you consider that their Kindle app is still king.

The real question will be the Kindle Fire 2 or Nexus 7. I would go with the Nexus 7 since I want an actual tablet.

The OG Kindle Fire I have now is so restricted you can hardly call it a tablet untilyou load a custom rom onto it. I would assume the KF2 will be the same. The lack of bluetooth on the Kindle really sucks for playing emulated games. That is the number one reason I want a different tablet.

The only way I would choose a Fire 2 over the N7 is if they opened it up all the way to the android market but still had their really nice Amazon integration built into it (like the prime video app) and included an sd card slot and other features of a tablet like GPS and bluetooth.

You actually don't need a custom rom at all. Once you root your Fire and install GAPPS (and a launcher if you prefer...my wife uses the stock launcher, I use GO Launcher) the Fire does everything any other tablet will do. Keep in mind I am also using the 100% stock ROM. Any limitations are hardware based only (no bluetooth irks me as well, no camera doesn't matter to me). The whole process takes less than 3 minutes and is essentially one-click.

In particular, I was surprised at the graphics performance of the OMAP chipset. I haven't had any issues with any game I've thrown at it yet.

I do agree with one thing though: Amazon needs to add a SD card slot if they want folks to pick the KF2 over the N7. Everything else hardware-based just levels that playing field, but the software one would remain in the N7's favor. Considering Amazon's stance on piracy though I highly doubt they will have one on the KF2.

Unfortunately Amazon won't add an SD slot to their Kindle Fires. They purposely excluded it to push people to use their cloud service.

I ordered the 16 GB today, I had been using a HP Touchpad I bought in the fire sale and thought about putting ICS on it but with the Nexus sporting Jellybean, it's a no-brainer.
Now I'll see how the Slingbox app I use with my Evo 3D works in tablet form.

Right now, I'd say that the Nexus is the way to go. That could change entirely though, like you mentioned, if Amazon puts out an update to the Fire this summer. That said though, even at $199, I wouldn't trade my Fire for the Nexus tablet, it does what I want it to and it does it very well.

Pretty sure I know the answer but I want to confirm.

If I'm an Amazon Prime member, what parts of Prime can I access on the Nexus 7? What parts can I not?

Pretty sure no instant video and no Kindle book lending. You can still get the regular Kindle app and Amazon MP3 though.

Hmmm, but I can stream instant video to my blu-ray player and my computer (via the web). Would it be possible to stream it to the Nexus 7 in a browser?

You can still use Amazon Instant Video on the Nexus tablet(or any other tablet). Just set your browser to desktop temporary un-root (OTA) and watch in a browser window.. everything KF offers and more..(with a little work that is!) (Running CM9 on my KF and still watching my Amazon Videos.:-)

There's no (supported) way of streaming video from the Prime library. Not sure what else there would be, as I'm not a prime member.

I have a rooted kindle fire and it's a great device, but. More than likely. I will be giving the fire to my wife and g
oing to get this in a few weeks

Sigh! I wish my better half would go for that :-))
I think I'll have to do the sell-and-buy approach.. of course I wonder what the KF2 will look like too...

If you have an XBox you can watch Amazon content via the Prime app. Until Google sorts it out so that I don't have to buy a dedicated device I'll never buy video content from them.

I saw one site say it will not be MHL compatible.... I really want to know this before I purchase. For me that's important, probably not a deal breaker (haven't decided) but would like a solid answer first

I asked Google's tech support that very question. Here's what they said:

"Thank you for contacting Google with your question. The only output option
on the Nexus 7 is the micro USB. This means that video out is currently
unsupported."

In a followup, they also confirmed for me that there is no support for wireless video output built in either.

There is a CHANCE that they will later have their own HD Dock using the Pog Pins on N7 to connect to the TV, until then the Q is the only known way (Yes, *sigh*)

If you're buying now it's a no brainer, the Nexus 7. Thing is that I just got a fire recently for $170, and I'm not overly motivated (at least at the moment) to switch since there is no sd card slot. Maybe after the initial rush for it is over, but not right now.

I have lots of people ask about getting a Kindle (or Nook just to throw this in) vs. a "regular" Android tablet. I always suggest getting a "regular" Android tablet simply because you can download the apps for Nook and Kindle. I agree with earlier comments - so what if you can't borrow something? What you gain far outweighs what you lose i.m.o.

couldn't disagree more. Kindle fire has more dev support than any other google tablet. There are more fire specific apps than tablet apps at the moment. The only thing my fire is missing is BT.
Why do people think that the fire isn't a full tablet? It has specs that were comparable when it hit the market and will run all the apps.

I ordered the Nexus 16gb model. I had the kindle fire and i returned it. The main reasons where low memory and the fact that i had to sideload every app i wanted to use because it wasn't available in the amazon app store. Now my issues have been resolved. I actually have a Motorola Zoom Wi-fi and it works great but i want something more portable. i can't wait unitl i get my hands on it

I have a Kindle Fire, but I plan on getting a Google Tablet eventually. It won't be when it first comes out, but I may just wait until Christmas.

As someone who thought they wanted a vanilla tablet back in December, I have to say I like my Kindle way more than my wife's Toshiba Thrive. Now I admit part of that is that I like a 7 inch tablet more than a 10.1 inch. However, I found I really did not like Honeycomb. I can't speak to ICS on a tablet, but I have seen very little in the differences. I just don't think stock Android works well on a tablet. I know I am heretic for saying that here, but I think Amazon did a good job polishing a turd with how they did their implementation.

With that said, if I was making a choice today, I would go with the Nexus. Why? because the new widgets fix what was wrong with Android tablets. They were not focused on consuming content the same way the Fire is. Also, the hardware specs make the Nexus a little more future friendly. Now, since I have used and owned a fire, I feel the Fire has a pretty high benchmark to meet. Can the better hardware and widgets beat the presentation Amazon has put together? That's really hard to say. The Fire is rumored to have more than 50% of the Android tablet market, and the developers have noticed. There are lots of apps that are optimized for the Fire. I doubt that will be the case with Nexus.

Really it comes down to whether or not you like the Amazon eco-system with Prime. If you don't have Prime, then the Fire really isn't worth it. But with Prime I can make up my membership costs with the lending library and videos. What I am saying is it is personal preference. If you were leaning towards a Fire this is the wrong time of the year to buy one and you should wait. If you were just leaning towards buying a nice, cheap, 7" tablet get the Nexus.

That would be plain silly. Besides, that's basically an app level decision. If the launcher doesn't, replace it. This is Android, not iOS. You can do whatever you want, instead of sticking with the dictated preferences of a corpse.

haha what exactly I told my brother with his Ipad is: "your tablet is only the icons moving around for nothing". And he's stunned when He saw my Hptouchpad CM9 with widgets, live wallpapers etc ...

Of course it does. If you look at Google's own videos you can see the N7 being rotated and used in landscape mode.

I'm not in US, so my Kindle Fire rooted run as a normal Android tablet. And to be honest, 8gb storage is always a pain in the ass.

Now with my Hp Touchpad 32gb everything is much easier to breath, but I think even Nexus 7 16gb is not enough for customer's nowadays

I have a Kindle fire rooted and running ICS. I love it, it's just like a tablet should be now, and not restricted like the stock rom.

But, this Nexus 7 is looking very enticing, mainly because of the front facing camera. I will definitely be grabbing it sometime this year.

I find it disgusting that Google offers the 16GB model for $249.

An extra 8GB for $50 more? That's worse than highway robber
or Apple Inc tactics.

I just bought a Sandisk 64GB microSDXC card for $49(with Prime
free two-day shipping) from Amazon.com It works perfectly
in my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 tablet. Combined with the
built-in memory, I have almost 70GB of user accessible storage.

When my Galaxy Nexus had no microSD card, I put up with it
because Google put 32GB onboard memory on it... and also
that it was just a smartphone.

To have only 8GB/16GB on a tablet is just inexcusable. Why
is Google starting to behave like Apple, Inc? :(

I have the tab 2 7in also, but it says you can only have 32 gigabyte cards. Can you really get it to recognize 64gigs?

I've got an iPhone 4S and a Kindle Fire. I probably touch the Fire MAYBE once a week. Unless I get immersed in a book, I don't even really use it. The reason being, it isn't a real tablet. It is a glorified e-reader. I want a tablet with actual tablet functions. Not just content consumption. I want the content to be the added bonus - which is how I view the Nexus7 - a tablet with some sweet content consumption baked in. And like others have said, you can get to much of Amazon's content from the Nexus7. I'm putting my Fire up for sale and getting a 16gb Nexus7 the second it comes out. And no, I have little to no desire to have an iPad. It's just a giant version of my phone. How exciting is that? Now some widgets and such on a Nexus7, that's what I'm talking about. Yes, I am one of those crazy people who actually like both iOS and Android. Blasphemy! :)

can you please explain what the kindle can't do that a google 7 inch tablet can? I can sideload a launcher and have all the widgets I want. But I find widgets to be resource hogs with very little value. Just curious since everyone on here is so sure that the fire is not a tablet.

I guess my questions ultimately boil down to two things:

1) Is this an actual tablet or is it like the Fire basically a handheld portal for content? For example, is there an email client other than GMail; can I use alternative keyboards and such; can I access and run the full range of apps in the Google Play app section (like Documents to Go for example)?

2) When exactly is it shipping?

1) It has all the functionality of a normal android tablet short of an rear facing camera. It should come with the standard android email client as seen from Froyo on... You should be a be able to use a Bluetooth keyboard with it. The full market is available, or at least apps that are adapted to run on Jelly Bean.

2)Ships mid July.

Google Nexus 7 tablet Quad core Tegra 3 8GB £169
Good fashionable elememt and nice product. Google Nexus 7 tablet quad core tegra 3 8 GB is really nice and Better configuration and smart style. thanks.

I agree with several of the comments here that this is 8 months old Kindle Fire. You don't have to sugar coat your comparison. It beats the Fire on all fronts. Content? Really? That's part of the sweetness. All of the content from Amazon is available on any Android phone. On the other hand, NOTHING in the Google Play store can be played on a Fire out of the box. SOOO... don't sugar coat it. The Nexus 7 runs circles around the Fire. In two or three months the Fire 2 will try to even it up or maybe even blow the Nexus 7 out of the water.

That's the world of Android. You can get a new cutting edge tablet or phone any time of the year. With iOS you have to sit on your hands waiting for June or October for any upgrades or new features only to have last year's greatest Android phone come out with an Apple logo slapped on the back. No wonder they get worked up in such a frenzy! While Apple Fan Boyz are talking about rumors we're getting the goods.

Whereas the Nexus is actually coming out in July, and the specs of the Kindle Fire 2 will be announced at the end of July, I think I'll wait to compare. Supposedly Amazon will release a 10" model as well.

Nexus hands down wins for me. The only thing here is that it seems to me that the Kindle Fire has the ability to drop in price. It was estimated to have a BoM at price when it came out nearly a year ago. So I'm sure Amazon could easily cut $20-40 off the price, making it a good value brand new.

from anyone that has touched the Nexus...I'm curious..on the....smoothness? I really enjoy my Kindle Fire and think for the last year its served me well and I continue to recommend them.
But I always feel it to be a little hurky jerky sometimes when browsing compared to other Tablets.
In the end if all I'm doing is surfing the web I would prefer never to feel the need to open up my laptop. (and I know the Fire is a Amazon Content delivering advice...etc...I'm just saying what I use it for)

Does the $200 Nexus improve on this greatly? Or is this just what you get for $200 still?

Neither.

Though the Nexus 7 is good hardware wise and the Fire is good content wise, both depend TOO much on a non existent ubiquitous WiFi connection. With no expandable storage and no USB host capability, both are a wash for me. I spend too much time on the go with no access to a data signal so I need to be able to access my own storage, be it memory card or hard drive.

Which is too bad, because I was waiting quite excitedly for the Nexus 7 to make its debut. Unfortunately, this critic has to say the show was fair, but was missing that little extra something that would have made it a must see.

I'm ready to purchase a Nexus 7+ with upgrades in a number of hardware areas. I don't like out of memory issues, better optics is a good thing and SD slot would suit me fine. Any word on a Airplay like feature so we don't need a cable or can this be done with Q? Great seeing keynote videos.

I'm still gonna buy all my books from amazon, as I own 2 kindle readers - so, even though I prefer the nexus 7 and have it on pre-order, amazon will still boost their sales of books etc from people buying the nexus 7.

Google books is nice, but they can't be used on my kindle readers, so I haven't bought a single book from them and I tend to find the kindle store cheaper too. - the nexus 7 doesn't stop kindle books as their is a good kindle app available.

Nexus 7 is better because it also has the full Google play store, along with full android vanilla experience - I can use all my THD games too.

For me, win win.

But no doubt, amazon will struggle now with the fire.