5 Reasons (Each) Why I Love the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD

I have been highly critical of Android tablets (shock, I know) for a number of reasons, and 7″ tablets in specific. But as has been pointed out, I also tout enjoying the Google Nexus 7 quite a bit for a number of reasons. I was also the last one holding on to my launch-day Kindle Fire from last year, and pre-ordered and have happily kept the Kindle Fire HD.

All of that screams ‘cognitive dissonance’ to me, so I thought it was worth explaining – and what better way than to list a bunch of things I love about each tablet! No ‘buts’, ‘if onlys’, ‘not as good as Apple’ or any other half-compliments. These are all things I love – so let’s get to it!

[Kindle Fire HD] The SOUND: Let me be crystal clear – the Kindle Fire HD has the best sound of ANY tablet I have touched. Period. It isn’t just loudness, it is great design. You generally use the Fire in landscape mode for media, and the speakers are to the left and right so you can watch a TV show or movie and get excellent stereo separation, clarity and volume.

[Nexus 7] Performance: I have been vocal in the past that very often the need for multiple cores in a mobile device says more about OS inefficiency than it does about the processor. At this point, however, dual-core is a must simply due to the way multitasking and threading is handled in pretty much every device. Quad core is largely a gimmick … except when it isn’t. For gaming performance and pumping out the pixels, the quad-core Tegra 3 in the Nexus is the best performing Android tablet I’ve touched … by a lot.

[Kindle Fire HD] Amazon Integration: I have loads of Kindle books, Amazon MP3s, subscribe to Prime and mostly rent from Amazon Instant Video on our Roku. So I am pretty well plugged into the Amazon ecosystem. And there is no better way to consume it all than the Kindle Fire HD.

[Nexus 7] Google Integration: Amongst my daily must-dos are GMail and Google Reader … and the native Android apps working with Jelly Bean are the best mobile experience for those services. The same goes for all of the Google play services.

[Kindle Fire HD] The Slick UI: I know many are critical of how Amazon has modified the underlying Android interface, but personally I love it. How much? I think that for everything I use the Kindle Fire to do – ebooks, music, games and movies – I like it better than any other Android tablet UI.

[Nexus 7] Jelly Bean: Until July of 2012 ALL Android tablet OS versions sucked. But suddenly with the arrival of the Nexus 7 and Jelly Bean I found an interface that actually works for a mid-sized device without feeling like an over-sized smartphone. There are interface niggles that remain, but more importantly the internals and services have been vastly improved, making the overall experience smooth and clean.

[Kindle Fire HD] Special Offers: Can you believe this – some people actually PAY to get rid of the Amazon special offers?!? For me that is like saying ‘please stop sending me a check for $5 every week … I’ll pay you $15 to stop!’ Seriously – between ebook savings, free MP3 offers, special video credits and more I have saved at least $50 on things I would have purchased anyways.

[Nexus 7] Remote Device Management: Yes this is generic Android, but the way it eases dealing with the limited space of the Nexus 7 makes a huge difference in usability for me as a gamer.

[Kindle Fire HD] The Screen: Watching movies and videos on the Kindle Fire HD is a great experience not just because of the sound, but also because the screen makes viewing a joy. Even with the smaller screen you get to enjoy every pixel, every detail.

[Nexus 7] The Screen: Similar to the Kindle Fire, the Nexus 7 offers an amazingly crisp and clear screen that makes gaming a dream. The level of detail and precision of the touch interface has removed any sense of desire I had left for the Playstation Vita or Nintendo 3DS.

Conclusions: There you have it – five reasons each I love my Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7. These are excellent devices, each of which cost $199 and offer capabilities unmatched in other Android tablets that cost $50-100 more. Choosing one or the other is not my focus here, but looking through my points there are obvious strengths to each system that I cite.

On Friday I will be adding the iPad Mini to my arsenal (I know, I know), and it will be very interesting to see how that compares in terms of all of the things I mention here and have discussed in the past.

Oh well, that is something for another day!

Categories: Editorials

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7 replies

  1. Michael,

    A few questions

    1. If you had to pick either the Fire or Nexus, which one?
    2. Can you get Google apps on the Fire either directly or sideloading?
    3. Since the Nexus does not allow you plug it into your HDTV do you feel that gives the Fire an edge? If not, why not?

    • I was going to ask the same question as you did in your number 1. I am torn between the 2 mostly because of the new 32 GB Nexus 7 and the HSDPA+ as well. I DO like watching Amazon Prime Streaming Video though but It’s not a deal breaker if it doesn’t have that.

      As for number 2, I can answer that: no. Unless you root the Kindle Fire, I don’t know of a way to get the google apps on your Kindle. Let me know if I am wrong Michael! :-)

      I thought the Nexus 7 was going to have an HDMI dock. That still may be possible (it does have pogo pins) but even the Galaxy Nexus failed to really use this for much.

      I really DO want to know what you think about number 1 Michael. I am sure I’d like both and you know I am Kindle guy for reading anyway so I could go either way.

      • As I mentioned, I made a serious attempt at using the Nexus 7 as my ‘main computer’ … and it failed. But that doesn’t make it a failure, just a reminder of the limitations of the 7″ format particularly for productivity. I wouldn’t even TRY to do that with the Kindle Fire HD. The Fire is positioned accurately as a consumption device, and I find it does very well with that.
        But since you can do most stuff on the Nexus, I would tend to assume that would be more up your alley since it is a ‘pure Android’ device.
        My original point in writing this was a reminder – I am very critical, but these are (IMO) the two best Android tablets around, have a lot of reasons to like them, and you will do well either way.

    • Well, it really comes down to how you use tablets, but …
      1. I have said before that I would choose the Kindle Fire HD in a heartbeat. But that is because I have the iPad. As a ‘one and only’ I think the Nexus 7 has the edge.
      2. I haven’t done anything with it, but there is supposedly a way to do this without having to root the device.
      3. Again that depends on usage – I thought I would care about the micro-HDMI … but I don’t. We have a Roku that streams all of our Amazon stuff, so I have no need to hook up the tablet.

    • 1. I have both and I would hate to part with either for all the reasons mentioned in the article. The Nexus 7 is more portable because I can easily slip it into a pants pocket. I literally carry it everywhere (I have a Verizon MIFI) And the GPS is invaluable to me. If only the Nexus 7 had decent speakers and an HDMI port…
      2. I was able to load GMail, Currents, Music, Maps, YouTube, and Chrome on the Fire HD without rooting. There are instructions over on xda-developers and apks you can download. You have to get the login service working first. I pulled the Chrome off of my HTC EVO 3D, and Music off of my Vizio VTab. The others I downloaded from xda-developers. If you root, there are a few more you can load, including the Play Store. Using Maps with WiFi location is interesting. It sometimes does a good job of pinpointing your location, but other times thinks you are blocks away. I’ve actually been able to get turn-by-turn navigation to work…sometimes.

  2. Good article thanks for the second thoughts on the N7.


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