Amazon Kindle Fire HD vs. Google Nexus 7 Comparison
This decision might be easier than you think. These two tablets are designed with very different users in mind. It used to be that geeks on a tight budget who wanted a good quality general purpose 7" tablet had to buy and root a Nook or Kindle tablet. Thanks to the Nexus 7, that's no longer necessary. Being a Google pure experience device, the Nexus 7 not only has full access to the wide range of Google apps and services like Gmail, Maps and the Google Play Store, but it's easy to root and load custom ROMs. If that makes you grin madly, then the Nexus 7 is for you. If you could care less about Google's app store and don't know root from ROMs, but you do want to read eBooks, stream video in high quality and listen to music, then the Kindle Fire HD is for you (especially if you're an Amazon Prime customer).
Design and Hardware Features
Both are roughly the same size and weight (the Nexus 7 is 1.9 ounces lighter), but each tablet has hardware strongpoints. For the Kindle Fire HD these include excellent stereo speakers with Dolby audio, an HDMI port and strong dual band WiFi. For the Nexus 7 it's the GPS (the Kindle Fire HD, like the non-3G/4G iPad uses WiFi triangulation for location services) and a much faster CPU.
Both have very good 1280 x 800, 7" IPS multi-touch displays with ambient light sensors and accelerometers (neither have haptic feedback). Though they share a similar design, right down to the curved sides and soft touch back, the Nexus 7 is a little more modern looking. The taper is more pronounced and the Nexus 7's bezel is narrower. The large bezel on the Kindle Fire HD makes it look a bit old-fashioned, though ergonomically it makes the tablet easier to hold when reading. The Nexus 7 has a tall and narrow shape, while the Fire HD is less narrow, which may feel more natural when reading to some.
In our tests, the Kindle Fire HD's dual band WiFi managed a -5db stronger signal on the 2.4GHz band they have in common, and it downloaded test files a bit faster. And we always appreciate having 5GHz WiFi, which is much less congested that the 2.4GHz band (other WiFi access points and Bluetooth interfere on 2.4GHz).
The Nexus 7 is much faster on benchmarks thanks to the quad core 1.2GHz Tegra 3 with GeForce graphics vs. the dual core 1.2GHz TI OMAP CPU with PowerVR SGX 540 graphics on the Kindle Fire HD. There's honestly no contest there, with the Nexus 7 trouncing the Fire HD. That said, the Kindle Fire HD is purpose built tablet that is plenty fast enough to accomplish its mission of playing HD video, smoothly playing games on the Amazn App Store and browsing the web swiftly with good page rendering speeds.
Kindle Fire HD: 2174 Nexus 7: 3638
GLBenchmark 2.1.5, Egypt Offscreen Test:
Kindle Fire HD: 33 fps Nexus 7: 64 fps
For $199 you get 8 gigs of storage on the Nexus 7 ($249 for 16 gigs), while the Kindle Fire HD has 16 gigs for $199 and 32 gigs for $249. Neither has an SD card slot. Neither supports USB host for using things like external flash drives, though you can enable that feature on the Nexus 7 if you root it and install a USB mass storage driver.
Getting Work Done
Both have access to MS Office compatible suites, should you wish to get work done. Both have PIM apps and an email client. The Gmail app is notably MIA on the Kindle Fire HD, but you can pick up your Gmail using the email client.
With both tablets you can download image editors, social networking clients and check MS Exchange email. Bloggers, there's no Wordpress client for the Fire HD yet, but you can side-load it.
Ease of Use and Customer Support
Some folks find Android too undirected and confusing. Others find it joyously malleable and customizable. For those who are tech newbies or don't wish to learn a new OS just to read books, view photos and watch movies, the Kindle Fire HD has great appeal. It's brain dead easy to use. Amazon has lots of information on their website on how to get things done on the Fire. For those who area already familiar with Android, the Kindle Fire HD's walled garden will likely feel very constricting.
Amazon's customer support is stellar; it's the best in the business (OK, Apple's is also top notch). Google's support is very weak and Asus' is passable.
Most importantly: if you want a fast, general purpose tablet with access to the Play Store and Google's other services and markets, get the Google Nexus 7 by Asus. If you want a turnkey device to consume books, magazines, movies from Amazon, Netflix and Hulu and music, get the Kindle Fire HD.
Here's our Amazon Kindle Fire HD vs. Nexus 7 Comparison Smackdown video: