8GB NOOK Tablet released for $199: head to head with the Kindle Fire

8GB Nook Tablet released for $199: head to head with the Kindle Fire

Barnes & Noble released a new version of their NOOK tablet today, with 8GB of memory rather than 16GB…and at the same price as the Kindle Fire at $199:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/nook-tablet-barnes-noble/1104687969

This eliminates the “easy choice argument” for the Fire over the 16GB NOOK Tablet…did you want to pay $50 more for it?

Honestly, people are going to see this as a real challenger to the Fire in what I call the “entertablet” (a portmanteau of “entertainment” and “tablet”) market.

The memory comparison is much stronger than it was before. There is more user available memory on the 8GB NOOK Tablet than on the 16. The NT8 (my new abbreviation) has 5GBs available for your files (not B&N content): the NT16 only has 1GB. That puts the NT8 in line with the Fire, which has 5.36 for general personal files and 1.17 specifically for apps.

There will be other things that stand out to comparison shoppers:

  • The NT8 has a microphone. The Kindle Fire can use a particular type of microphone in the headphone jack, but that’s probably baling wire and chewing gum in comparison
  • The NT8 natively reads Excel and PowerPoint: the KF needs apps
  • You can create your own wallpapers with the NT8, not with the KF
  • The NT8 can take up to a 32GB micro SD card…not memory expansion slot on a KF. You can use a wi-fi drive, but again, not as convenient
  • The KF is half an inch shorter…but weighs a bit more
  • The KF allows sideloading using a USB cable…the NT8 doesn’t have a port for that (but you could use the SD card)

Seriously, line up the tangibles and ignore the companies, and I think many people would select the NOOK Tablet 8GB over the Kindle Fire.

The intangibles count, though. Amazon’s Customer Service has been so much better for me than the experiences I’ve had online with Barnes & Noble. Amazon lets you “return” a Kindle store book for a refund with seven days of purchase. Barnes & Noble still doesn’t allow the return of NOOK Books at any time:

“Items That Cannot Be Returned
We are unable to accept returns for NOOK Books, magazines, downloadable PDFs for SparkNotes products, gift cards, and shrink-wrapped items that have been opened. Please note: Once purchased, NOOK Books cannot be refunded.”

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/help/cds2.asp?PID=8121

If you pay to be an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow up to a book a month from about 100,000 titles, and watch Prime streaming videos at no additional cost.

However, I think those are intangibles are a tough sale to people who haven’t already committed to one company or the other emotionally.

Will Amazon respond?

They’ve responded to Barnes & Noble before, but this is a tough call.

They can’t just lower the price: Barnes & Noble also lowered the price on the NOOK Color to $169: even though it isn’t technically comparable to the Fire, it puts that price into a comparison chart.

Amazon could announce a bigger, more expensive one. They could announce new features (come on, text-to-speech! Someone in the Kindle forum recently reported that Amazon told them they were working on TTS for the Fire). They could coast…but I think that might be a mistake here.

What do you think? Does Amazon need to respond to this? Will this take market share? How does a possible smaller iPad play into this? Feel free to let me know by commenting this post…

Thanks to my reader Susan for a proof-reading comment on this post. :)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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15 Responses to “8GB NOOK Tablet released for $199: head to head with the Kindle Fire”

  1. Deb Schmalz Says:

    On the app Happy Geek they stated that a new Kindle Fire 2 was in the works to be ready for release this this summer.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Deb!

      Yes, that’s one of the rumors. :) There have been stories about both a 9.7″ and, alternatively, a 10″ Fire.

      My speculation is that we will get more than one new Kindle Fire. At least one will be larger screen, and another will be the same screen size as the current one, but more fully-features (cameras,GPS). As to timing, I would guess it will be before the end of the second quarter, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was earlier. We’ll see, though.

  2. Karen Salmons Says:

    I own the Kindle 2nd Gen e-reader and a Kindle Fire. Love them both and love the Amazon eco system. I am a prime member and
    considered it for some time before joining after I bought the KF. I have never once considered the Nook even though the claims of storage, etc. There is just so much more you can do through Amazon that you’ll never do through B&N. If you are going to own a tablet for entertainment 7″ is a great size to carry around and Amazon is hands down the best when you consider all that is available. Expect it really boils down to brand loyalty. I once craved an iPad but couldn’t afford it but now that I have the Fire I no longer want it at any price.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karen!

      Brand loyalty is certainly part of it. Apple has a long way to go to get the sour (apple) taste out of my mouth over the Agency Model…

      It’s worth noting that you can be part of the Amazon ecosystem without owning a Kindle, of course. However, they are working on that…the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) is only available to people who own the Kindle hardware.

  3. Harold Delk Says:

    IMHO B&N has raised the bar with the new Nook and I’m hoping Amazon sees the move as “throwing down the gauntlet” and responds with a more more innovative, feature-rich, camera and mike enabled Fire. I love my Fire, but really wish I could use Skype on it and some of the voice-enabled apps such as Dragon Dictation. Looks like we’re going to see the competition benefiting the consumer and both companies. I’m also hoping Amazon will allow a more open OS so I can run the browser of MY choice and shop at the app store of my choice (without side-loading) … I really do not need them to act as my protector from malware or anything else for that matter.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      I think Amazon was likely working on a version of the Fire with a microphone…but this certainly may nudge them. :) Have you tried downloading another browser by changing the setting to allow outside apps?

      Settings Gear – More – Device

      That makes things pretty simple.

      By the way, you may not need that protector…but I’m guessing a lot of people benefit from it. Of course, they let you take off your hazmat suit and wander outside their protection if you want…see the above. :)

  4. TC Says:

    The Nook Tablet has several things going for over the Fire – the display is superior, battery life is about 2 hours longer than the Fire, the micro sd slot is a big advantage too. Perhaps the best thing is having physical volume control buttons – can’t believe Fire left those off. And the NTab works great with Amazon Prime streaming movies too. I access all my Amazon music on it as well. Don’t know if the new 8 gb NT will be as peppy as the 16 gb model (which was on the B&N ebay site for $199 last week). I did a fairly simple rooting of the 16 gb NT and it now works great with Android apps, Amazon Apps, the Kindle app, etc. It’s like a Fire & Nook all in one; best of both worlds.

  5. Clint Bradford Says:

    Amazon will be around tomorrow. And next year. No one can definitively say that about Barnes & Noble. That fact alone makes the purchasing decision ‘tween any Nook and a Kindle simple for me.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Clint!

      Well, that it is a interesting point. I think the NOOK may survive even if the brick-and-mortar Barnes & Noble stores don’t. It might be bought by someone else…could be a nice acquisition for Google, for example. That might wreak havoc with the ecosystem, though.

  6. Tom Semple Says:

    This strikes me as being a somewhat strange move on the part of B&N. It sort of legitimizes Amazon’s calculation that 8GB is ‘enough’, and can only undermine sales of the 16GB model (which presumably is more profitable for them, after all an additional 8GB does not cost anything like $50 more). Will increased overall sales with the new 8GB model make up for that? Seems doubtful.

    As for what Amazon should do, it seems they see no need to respond as they have in the past (the same day in at least one case). As far as price drops, they may be taking a wait and see approach as they prepare launch of either the rumored larger Fire and/or color eink Kindle Touch. One could even imagine release of a 16MB Fire at a price undercutting the NC 16GB model.

    I’d be among the first to confess some disappointment with the Fire specs, starting with lack of what I’d consider ‘adequate’ on board storage, and lack of volume buttons. As a reading device it is missing features (no page numbers, no bookmarks, annotation, or pan/zoom of fixed-layout format, no margin/spacing adjustment/font choice, no TTS, no video/audio embedding, no XRay). And they need to fix Personal Document service so KF8 files don’t get downgraded. But there is more to it than a hardware/reading feature comparison alone captures: Amazon delivers a more multidimensional experience.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      It’s only a strange move if B&N is satisfied with the sales of the NT16. If they are getting…um, I’m going to go with “soundly mashed” by Amazon with the Fire, this is a natural move… ;)

      Oh, and on new models from Amazon…I think it’s more likely to be “and” rather than “or”.

  7. Edward Boyhan Says:

    As you said, they have responded with price reductions before. With everyone saying KFs are priced below cost (I’m actually not convinced that this is so — the fact that BN can price their new Nook buttresses this because BN does not have the financial resources to sell below cost) you might think a price adjustment at this point might be a difficult move for them.

    I suspect that much will have to do with existing KF sales volumes (which only Amazon knows), and what the KF follow-on products (and timings) are. If the follow-on is not too far out, they could early announce (they would take a hit on current KF sales if they do that).

    There are quite a few system S/W improvements (like the TTS one you mentioned) and apps (like many of the Google ones) that could be added to the app store, but I suspect most of those would be of interest and welcomed by existing owners — I don’t think those kinds of things will generate a lot of new KF users than those they were already otherwise going to get.

    If they could do something dramatic on the content side, that could have a big impact. Unfortunately, they are hemmed in in terms of what they can do there by the content rights holders’ interests.

  8. homeward bound Says:

    Hi — I’m a Kindle user since early-adopter days, and though I upgraded to the K3 a year or so ago, my K1 died only a few weeks ago. I’ve also had a K4 now since Christmas, which goes everywhere with me due to its size. Saying all this to say that while I’m fairly well-acquainted and happy with all-things-Kindle, I’m considering a quasi-tablet, and comparing Fire and Nook8.

    A simple and rather uninformed question. Is there a comparison chart for the KF and N8? Apart from the 8 gig with 5 gig user memory, I’m not seeing a lot of differences, so the “new N8″ with more user memory seems to me to be something better referred to as “N16 update.”

    Is it a deal-breaker either way that N8 has put Excel and PP on board natively? Or are they available as apps anyway? How much of the 32gig SD is user-available?

    For me, one of the BIGGEST and GREATEST features on the NTab is the microphone. What a fun time for grandparents and grandkids. From my Oklahoma to his NYC, I could load up for my 6-yr-old grandboy a ton of stories and simple books, read a bunch of them to him, even adding sound affects and other miscellaneous sounds (cat’s meow, kitchen mixer making him cookies, etc), then bubble-wrap the NT, throw it in the box, and send it happily off to NYC along with cookies and other stuff. After he’s finished and ready for a refill, he could fill up the NT with him reading to ME, as well as some of his latest shenanigans for me, then send it back. And the cycle begins again (except I don’t get homemade cookies, I suppose)!

    As you can see, the TTS and/or recording, read-to-me, etc, is a huge feature. If Amazon wants the Fire to grab me as their e-readers have, they’d better hurry up because the above paragraph pretty much sets my compass and sets it for “run fast” every time I think about it. So far only Nook fills that slot.

    What has held me back, waiting for settling in with new upgrades from both companies, as been EACH of the Amazon “intangibles.” They are very important to me, especially CS, prime features, and so many other features. But, at present developments in each tablet, apart from the intangibles, what would pull me to which tablet were I to purchase now?

    Thanks for info and thanks for wading through the above! HB

  9. Susan C Says:

    That’s “baling wire” not “bailing wire”. It refers to baling hay (hay bale), not bailing out a boat.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Susan!

      D’oh! I knew that…silly fingers. :) I’ll fix it, thanks. I knew the idiom, just typed it incorrectly.

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